Saturday, November 15, 2014

We can't have jobs and the environment if we give away the environment

Sometimes it's obvious to me why I'm not a politician. Today is one of those times. After winning a squeeker of an election, my Democratic congressman broke with his party to vote with House Republicans to send a bill to the Senate approving the KXL pipeline. There are two aspects of his vote that I'm not sophisticated enough to understand. First, the congressman from the Eighth District had previously wanted to require that the pipeline be built with American steel. I can understand that political trade off, since his district includes Minnesota's Iron Range. I don't support that trade off, but I do understand it. The good Congressman didn't get his amendment and voted for the bill anyhow. He claims that his constituents want to see more political compromise. I'm one of his constituents and think he fails to understand the difference between compromise and capitulation. Furthermore, the bill the House approved has a Republican's name attached to it. The Republican congressman from Louisiana who's running against Democratic Senator Landrieu. So, as I see it, at best any Senate vote for the pipeline becomes a tie affecting who wins the senatorial runoff in Louisiana. Plus, the Democrats have already lost control of the Senate for at least the next two years so are they trying for a larger minority? Clearly, I need a remedial course in political calculus. Unless this is all a strategy to make the President look strong when he vetoes the legislation, if he vetoes it.

Minnesota's North Shore beauty
We can have this and jobs only if we're smart
Photo by J. Harrington

All of the preceding [UPDATE: a similar perspective] mad(e) me wish I hadn't written yesterday about keeping to a minimum tantrums posted here. As an alternative, I'm going to try reverting to one of the principles my friends and I followed as teenagers growing up in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston: "Don't get mad, get even." That went nicely with "Fool me once, shame one you. Fool me twice, shame on me." I've read several recent analyses that postulated that Democrats harmed themselves by "running away" from Obama and not offering a clear vision of what they stand for. We've written here, more than once we think that we want a more of a choice than that between a moderate Republican, labeled "Democrat" for public consumption purposes, and a Tea Party Republican labeled Republican. I don't intend to not vote in the future, but I certainly won't be at all concerned about "wasting" my vote on a candidate from the Independence or Green Parties. The Democrats have fooled me once to often by pretending to support the labor and environmental standards I favor. I started out as a proud Democrat, then I became a reluctant Democrat. Now I'm a disaffected one. I suspect I'm not alone. There was an interesting Tweet on Twitter this morning. There are no jobs on a dead planet. I'd like to see the Democrats adopt that as a slogan for the 2016 elections.

What Kind of Times Are These

By Adrienne Rich 
There's a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I've walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don't be fooled
this isn't a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won't tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won't tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it's necessary
to talk about trees.

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