Today we examine the challenges ahead & what we all can do to face them. Plus more evidence of why the Georgia runoffs are so important and report on flawed Methane Regs pointing to need for Green Amendment. Plus, Winona LaDuke video on Deb Haaland.
Before getting started a couple reminders:
Retake Our Democracy’s 2021 Legislative Priorities Survey. We have had almost 700 responses to date, but we’d like to get to 2000 by January 1. So please take the survey and share the link with a few friends. Nag, nag, nag.
Retake Our Democracy’s NM State Senate District Advocacy Network. We make it so easy to advocate directly and personally (zoom, of course) with your legislator. We’ve got coordinators in most all districts who will organize the zoom. You just have to sign up and then join a zoom with your Senator. You do NOT have to be an expert, just a constituent who cares about decriminalizing abortion, getting funds to early childhood, passing health security, and more. Click here to sign up.
NM Proposed Methane Regs Exempt 95% of NM Gas & Oil Operations: REALLY?
New Mexico Environment Secretary James Kenney held a press conference to announce that a new study had revealed that NM methane release is double what had been reported previously. He called the press conference to tell us that “this is an undeniable call to action.” That is like the NY Times calling a press conference to announce they have found evidence that Trump does not tell the truth. Seriously, the head of NM ED is just realizing there is a problem?
““It’s clear that voluntary emissions reductions measures undertaken by some operators are not enough to solve this problem,” Kenney said in a statement.”
Really? You mean you can’t trust the gas and oil industry to regulate itself? Imagine that. Yet somehow the NMED is mystified that methane release has doubled, despite a prior report from scientists at the Environmental Defense Fund, Harvard University, Georgia Tech and the SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research who also found the Permian Basin accounts for twice the average methane emissions of 11 other major U.S. oil and gas production regions. Maybe self-regulation isn’t working.
Justin Garoutte, a spokesman for the Environment Department, said state officials weren’t yet certain why emissions have spiked in the region. “Until the department engages in discussions with these companies regarding the root cause of the emissions problems, we are unsure what caused the increase in documented emissions,” he said. News flash to Garoutte: the root cause is that you are dealing with a bunch of companies that don’t give a rats ass about our environment if they can make just a bit more money and because the state is so dependent upon gas and oil revenue, Democratic leadership has failed to act.
Well, at least state regulators have been hard at work to develop regulations to address this crisis. One problem, according to analysis by the Environmental Defense Fund, 95% of operators would be exempt from draft regulations and implementing those regs would only reduce emissions by 21%.
If there ever was evidence that NM needs a Green Amendment, this is it. With an Energy Department that finally realizes gas and oil will not voluntarily manage methane emissions and then develops methane regulations that exempt 95% of gas and oil operations, it is clear that our state government will not protect us. Failing that, a Green Amendment provides the tool to force the state to do for the environment, what Yazzie Martinez has done for public education.
Covid Relief Comes with a Gravy Train for Wall St & Lobbyists
“$600 is what rich people think poor people think is a lot of money.” This tweet was all over social media yesterday and it expresses perfectly the perspective of so many privileged decision-makers in Washington, D.C. Yet, for working America, many of whom are 2, 3 or more months in arrears on their rent, it is very often just two week’s rent. And yet to get this meager relief to Americans who are suffering, the GOP forced the Dems to accept a provision that allows for a 100% business deduction allowance for food and drink expenses. Many of those meals will cost well over the $600 Americans will be receiving. And, as reported by Truthout, other GOP terms to get the relief passed include, punishing new state regulations for distributing the extended unemployment benefits, regs that will make it impossible to get the funds out quickly or to distribute all of them before the funds expire and the provision of billions of dollars of relief to big business.
So, as part of the Covid relief package, lobbyists and Wall St. can now write off every dime of the expensive dinners they host with legislators, using that access to ensure they can continue to exploit essential workers, communities of color, and our earth. How on earth is this Covid relief?
Well, the answer is that this was the price Dems had to pay to get very meager relief for working families. The lesson here is that If we don’t win both seats in GA, this will be the norm. Hand over your left arm to McConnell so he can sever that but spare your right pinkie. In order to have any chance to escape the hell outlined by Chris Hedges below, we must win both those races. And the election is two weeks away, Jan 5.
And while the polling news from GA is more reassuring than the polls from the last two weeks, quite obviously it is going to be close; and quite obviously the GOP will toss every barrier they can to prevent high turnout among communities of color and urban Georgia. So it is up to us to put in the time and maybe invest a bit of our $600 relief check, to make sure we win both these runoffs. Without two wins in Georgia, we are going to be negotiating every bill with Mitch McConnell with McConnell holding all the aces.
We have an opportunity to officially help GOTV for Jon Ossoff via the Vote Builder VPB tool. There will be a push with three hour shifts from Jan. 1st through Jan. 5th. The campaign has created excellent training materials that I will be able to share with scheduled volunteers. Proposed GOTV Schedule
- 1/1: 12pm, 3pm, 6pm (est)
- 1/2 – 1/4: 10am, 12pm, 3pm, 6pm (est)
- 1/5: 8am, 11am, 1pm, 4pm (est)
If you are interested in participating by volunteering to staff one or more shifts, please join our Zoom call at 5P (Sat., Dec. 26th).
NOTE: The GA campaigns are coordinating their messaging efforts. Should you also wish to help candidate Warnock, we can get you connected with their VPB efforts as well.
Bruce Roach is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Recruiting call for NM VPB Jon Ossoff GOTV
Time: 5P Saturday, December 26th
Join Zoom Meeting
Over the last four years, we have become shell shocked by Trump’s daily barrage of moral insults. And with Mitch and Trump in control, we’ve been disempowered to take action on the environment, racial injustice, health and food insecurity and a host of other issues on a national level. There is a natural impulse to breathe a sigh of relief and fantasize about a return to normal under Biden. But in the must read piece below, Chris Hedges shatters that illusion rather thoroughly.
Is a Return to Normal REALLY What We Want?
All of us anticipate the changing of the guard. On January 20, Trump will be gone and a new day will emerge. Hope is here. But, as Chris Hedges outlined so clearly, it may not be that simple. And his clarion call piece from Common Dreams, prodded me to sound the alarms. I’ve held my tongue about Biden and the future he most likely will usher in. Roxanne commented this morning, I’m not sure people are ready for Chris Hedges; right now; they want hope. But it is also important to face up to reality and not seduce ourselves into thinking that all is well. The future under Biden is not shaping up to be such a pretty picture, as Chris Hedges has disclosed in his most recent piece from Common Dreams, “The Dangerous Fantasy of Hope Rooted in Self-Delusion”
“We cannot use the word hope if we refuse to face the truth. All hope rooted in self-delusion is fantasy. We must lift the filter from our eyes to see the danger before us. We must heed the warnings of our own prophets. We must destroy the centers of power that lure us and our children, like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, to certain doom. The walls, daily, are closing in around us. The radical evil we face is as real under Trump as it will be under Biden. And if this radical evil is not smashed, then the world ahead will be one of torment and mass death.”From Common Dreams: “The Dangerous Fantasy of Hope Rooted in Self-Delusion”
The quote above is how Hedges concludes his analysis of our prospects under Biden. While Hedges’ language can be a bit extreme, I think most of us have been disappointed with most of the cabinet appointments Biden has been announcing. Certainly, all are better than the sycophants that have surrounded Trump for four years. But that is setting a very low bar. Hedges is unsparing in his criticism.
“Biden’s appointments are drawn almost exclusively from the circles of the Democratic Party and corporate elite, those responsible for the massive social inequality, trade deals, de-industrialization, militarized police, world’s largest prison system, austerity programs that abolished social programs such as welfare, the revived Cold War with Russia, wholesale government surveillance, endless wars in the Middle East and the disenfranchisement and impoverishment of the working class.”Common Dreams: “The Dangerous Fantasy of Hope Rooted in Self-Delusion”
Hedges then goes on to offer a less than comforting view of just some of the appointments to date.
General Lloyd J. Austin III, nominated to be secretary of defense, is on the board of Raytheon Technologies and a partner at Pine Island Capital, a firm that invests in defense industries;
Antony Blinken, Biden’s nominee to be secretary of state is a strong supporter of the apartheid state of Israel. He was one of the architects of the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and a proponent of the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya,
Janet Yellen, former Federal Reserve chair under Barack Obama, is slated to be Treasury Secretary. As the chair of Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) and later as a member of the board of the Federal Reserve, she backed the repeal of Glass-Steagall, which led to the banking crisis of 2008. She supported the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and lobbied for a new statistical metric intended to lower payments to senior citizens on Social Security.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry is to become a special envoy for climate. Kerry championed the massive expansion of domestic oil and gas production, largely through fracking, and, according to Obama’s memoir, worked doggedly to convince those concerned about the climate crisis to “offer up concessions on subsidies for the nuclear power industry and the opening of additional U.S. coastlines to offshore oil drilling.”
Avril Haines, a former Obama deputy CIA chief, is to become Biden’s director of national intelligence. Haines oversaw Obama’s expanded and murderous drone program overseas and backed Gina Haspel’s nomination to be the head of the CIA, despite Haspels’ direct involvement in the CIA torture program carried out in black sites around the globe.
Neera Tanden, a former aide to Hillary Clinton, has been picked to be director of the Office of Management and Budget. Tanden, as the head of the Democratic Party’s thinktank, the Center for American Progress, raised millions in dark money from Silicon Valley and Wall Street. Her donors include Bain Capital, Blackstone, Evercore, Walmart and the defense contractor Northrup Grumman. The United Arab Emirates, a close ally of Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen, also gave the thinktank between $1.5 million and $3 million. She relentlessly ridicules Sanders and his supporters on cable news and social media. She also proposed a plank in the Democratic platform calling for the bombing Iran.
Until Haaland’s appointment and also the appointment of Miguel Cardona to serve as Secretary of Education, most all of Biden’s appointments are not people who are ready to transform this country. They are just interested in restoring calm and avoiding drama, so they can go about advancing their neo-liberal goals, goals that depend on continuous economic growth, continued resource depletion and ever expanding gaps in wealth.
“The belief that we can maintain current levels of consumption, especially of animal products, capitalist expansion, imperial wars, a reliance on fossil fuels and abject subservience to unfettered corporate power, which has solidified the worst income inequality in human history, is not a form of hope but suicidal self-delusion. We are not headed under the policies of the Biden administration and the global ruling elite for the broad sunlit uplands of a new and glorious future, but economic misery, vast climate migrations, waves of new and more virulent pandemics, of which COVID-19 is a mild precursor, along with irreversible ecological systems collapse and frightening forms of societal breakdown, authoritarianism and neofascism.”Common Dreams: “The Dangerous Fantasy of Hope Rooted in Self-Delusion”
Hedges then goes on to drive home the message we must take from the 2020 election.
“After four years of lies, the stoking of racist violence, stunning ineptitude, rampant corruption and an abject failure to cope with a national health crisis, Trump expanded his base by 11 million votes. This should be a huge, flashing red light. Worse, 70 percent of Trump voters, 51 million Americans, believe that “radical Left Democrats” and the deep state rigged the elections through “voter fraud,” including the importation of Venezuelan voting software, illegitimate mail-in ballots and the wholesale destruction of Trump ballots by election officials. One hundred and twenty-six Republican House members joined a lawsuit filed by 18 Republican state attorneys general asking the Supreme Court to overturn Biden’s victory. “Common Dreams: “The Dangerous Fantasy of Hope Rooted in Self-Delusion
Trump and McConnell have made it clear they intend to make it as difficult as possible for Biden to govern. They are handing him a recession, an out of control pandemic, a nation torn in two by racial injustice and white supremacist paranoia, and a climate catastrophe that for some time has received zero attention. That is a mighty tough challenge in the best of circumstances.
But 2021 will not be the best of circumstance. It is clear that Trump is amassing hundreds of millions of dollars in phony appeals to reverse the election results in court. He is building a war chest that will be used to fund 2022 and 2024 campaigns to eradicate any Republicans who have been disloyal to him in 2020, with disloyal defined as having the temerity to even call Biden the president-elect. He will use that war chest to prepare for his 2024 campaign, a campaign that, in effect, has already begun. All the while, if the Democrats don’t win both races in Georgia, McConnell will continue to make it impossible for Biden to do anything to address the extraordinary number of ills plaguing us. In that context, the GOP will be primed to make sweeping election wins in the midterm elections and further their stranglehold on Congress.
It would be more comforting if Biden was coming to his presidency with Bernie Sanders as Secretary of Labor and Elizabeth Warren as Secretary of Treasury. But that is not the case. Indeed, Hedges noted that to date, Biden’s message to progressives has been: “Drop dead.”
I am sorry to drop such a downer on you just days before Christmas and the New Years, but as Hedges notes, to harbor hope within delusion is fantasy and with what is ahead, we must resist the temptation to accept a return to normal, as normal has not served us since well before Trump. Indeed, in June of 2019 I wrote: “In Search of a New Normal that Is Actually Normal: Today is NOT Normal & It Hasn’t been Normal for 40 Years” That piece underscores why we need to raise our sites far higher than a return to normal. Biden is not going to be an intractable obstacle, but as his history in the Senate has displayed and the evidence from his appointments reinforce, we have work to do and blind hope will not be our ally.
We close with something upbeat, five minute commentary from Winona LaDuke on the selection of Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior.
In solidarity and hope,
Paul & Roxanne
Categories: Election, Political Reform & National Politics