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Monday, September 12, 2005

The Republican Party: Helping Big Oil at All Costs

The Republican War on Reality proceeds unabated by the events of Hurricane Katrina. Today I have just two points. 1) The Republicans are again exploiting tragedy to benefit their rich corporate cronies and 2) The Republican denial of climate change presents a threat to national security. Any "commitment" by the Republicans to "securing our borders" consists of complete hogwash when you consider their dishonest denial of the environmental havoc that their policies create.

I. Exploiting Tragedy to Help the Rich

After Katrina, there have been fuel shortages across the nation. In response, Democrats and even some Republicans have pointed to increasing fuel efficiency for automobiles. The Republicans holding the real power, however, have another solution: give oil companies more of my tax dollars so that they can drill more oil.

Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) is one of the most powerful people you've never heard of. As chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, he has enormous power when it comes to our environment . What was his answer to gas shortages after Katrina? Not forcing auto makers to make more fuel efficient cars, which he openly admits "is not a good policy if you want to stay in the majority." Heaven forbid the Republicans do something good for America regardless of what their corporate cronies want. He also is in favor of giving oil producers like ExxonMobil -- who even Barton admits recently posted "the world's largest net profit ever", should be given government subsidies to drill for more oil. Unreal. Instead of actually addressing our oil dependency, we should just rape the Earth for as much as we can and continue to waste. This way of governing stands opposite to economic efficiency, because pillaging the Earth now and failing to take steps to use less fuel now means a future without oil and without a solution. The party in power must be cautious stewards of our country's natural resources; the Republican party continues to rape and exploit our resources to give immediate financial gratification to their filthy rich corporate cronies. How any thinking American can willingly go along with the Republican plan to destroy the future so that oil companies can continue to post record profits is beyond me.

Worth noting is that the Republicans dropped their plan to repeal the estate tax this week after initially promising to go ahead with the repeal despite the massive costs of Katrina. Republican operatives call it the "Death Tax" despite the fact that you need to have $1.5 million in assets to even qualify for the tax. I'll call it the "Tax on the Entrenched Power of the Mega-Rich." There is no "death tax" because the estate tax only applies to the mega-rich. If you want to defend the mega-rich, go ahead. I don't really need to repeat this here, but the "Death Tax" is just another example of the Republicans' manipulation of words to market their radical agenda.

Regardless, the repeal of the Estate tax will return soon enough. Its repeal means too much to the disgustingly rich.

II. The Republican Plan for Fighting Climate Change: Deny it and Launch a Witch Hunt

Joe Barton is actively involved in a witch hunt designed to silence key climate change scientists. Even Republicans admit that Barton has gone too far in his war on reality. From The Guardian:

A far-reaching inquiry into the careers of three of the US's most senior climate specialists has been launched by Joe Barton, the chairman of the House of Representatives committee on energy and commerce. He has demanded details of all their sources of funding, methods and everything they have ever published.

Mr Barton, a Texan closely associated with the fossil-fuel lobby, has spent his 11 years as chairman opposing every piece of legislation designed to combat climate change.
. . .
Alan Leshner protested on behalf of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, expressing "deep concern" about the inquiry, which appeared to be "a search for a basis to discredit the particular scientists rather than a search for understanding".
Political reaction has been stronger. Henry Waxman, a senior Californian Democrat, wrote complaining that this was a "dubious" inquiry which many viewed as a "transparent effort to bully and harass climate-change experts who have reached conclusions with which you disagree".

But the strongest language came from another Republican, Sherwood Boehlert, the chairman of the house science committee. He wrote to "express my strenuous objections to what I see as the misguided and illegitimate investigation".

He said it was pernicious to substitute political review for scientific peer review and the precedent was "truly chilling". He said the inquiry "seeks to erase the line between science and politics" and should be reconsidered.

The Republicans want to find an error somewhere in the findings of these brilliant scientists so that they can discredit their work. The Republican attack here clearly has no basis in science, but rather in politics. It's all about ensuring that their bills are paid on time by the oil lobby. They don't care about Americans or the world and their dangerous environmental policies will certainly lead to massive death and destruction. In short: a vote for the Republicans is a vote against our national security interests. If you want to be a Republican, you need to justify their war against the environment in some way. Denial is a common emotion; it solves the problem easily and allows you to move on. But denial of reality -- as the sole way to justify your party's environmental misdeeds -- requires you to lie to yourself every day.

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