"It is not hard to follow the money"
2014-05-13 by Jon Carroll, for "San Francisco Chronicle" [http://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/carroll/article/It-is-not-hard-to-follow-the-money-5475550.php]:
Robert Reich, in an interesting blog post on AlterNet, notes that, in some ways, the right wing of the Republican Party and the left wing of the Democratic Party have come together on a number of issues, pitting them against the establishment centrist Republicans and Democrats.
He calls this coming together the new populism, and posits a cultural shift where the divide is no longer along party lines but rather around populist issues. Reich identifies those issues: scaling back American intervention overseas, opposing trade agreements crafted by big corporations, and stopping the National Security Agency from spying on Americans.
There's another area of agreement: banks. Both sides want to ensure that no bank will ever become too big to fail again. They want the Glass-Steagall Act reimposed, separating investment from commercial banking so that banks can no longer gamble with their customers' money.
Indeed, both sides would like to end corporate welfare as we know it. Sen. Ted Cruz is against it and "crony capitalism."
Well, yes and no. There is one area in which crony capitalism is just fine with all Republicans - and more than a few Democrats. That's the relationship between Congress and the energy companies. Many politicians are just pleased as punch to be able to carry water for the energy companies.
This is not exactly news. The Koch brothers, the big-money right-wing donors of choice, got their inherited wealth from the oil business, and they still run that oil company today. (It does other stuff too, but that's the bedrock.) The Koch brothers are very much against alternative energy, supporting, among other things, campaigns to eliminate wind power farms.
And this is the message from the energy companies: Climate change is a hoax. The scientists are all dupes of the people like Obama who want to socialize American companies and force them to follow harmful policies. In fact, all scientists are left-wingers. Some of them don't even believe in God.
Nothing must interfere with the profit margin. That's what they mean by "this will hurt the economy." If people turn away from fossil fuel energy, it will threaten their bottom line. An obscenely profitable bottom line, by the way, and the energy companies want every nickel.
Every solar panel installed is like an icepick in their hearts.
And yet, and yet ... a Pew poll taken last year found that a plurality of Americans thought that climate change was a major threat. That still left us less concerned than many countries, including Japan and Brazil.
But breaking down the results: When Democrats and independents were treated as a group, 65 percent said that they considered climate change a major threat. That put us right ahead of Spain and substantially ahead of Canada.
(We are never ahead of Canada in matters like this. What happened?)
But who were the others? Republicans. Only 25 percent of Republicans believed that climate change is a big deal. That put the Republicans right behind China, where the government is the energy company, and the propaganda is ceaseless.
What is it about climate change that provokes such strong reactions? The science is clear. Why would people vote against their own interests? The weather reports are coming in from all over the country, and the news is not good. Are we having a heat wave in May? Why, yes, we are.
The hot, hot sun over the hard brown ground - not a good combination. Back in Tornado Alley, though, they'd probably take the trade-off. The low-lying areas of the East Coast take note of our drought and heat and are not impressed. Yes, it's happening all over. It's real. This is not rocket science; this is environmental science.
And the populist Republicans, the ones who proclaim that they're against crony capitalism? Sen. Marco Rubio, R.-Fla., said this during an appearance in which he announced that he was ready for the presidency:
"I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. And I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except that it will destroy our economy."
An energy company press release could not have said it any better.
Note the latest wrinkle in the energy company game plan: Yes, OK, there is climate change, but humans had nothing to do with it. Then why is it happening? Oh, you know, natural forces. Cycles of nature. Kumbaya, my brother.
So money drives politics, and the energy companies have lots of money. Both the politicians and the oil executives are willing to mortgage the future of the planet for the short-term gain of big bucks. Hell, they'll all be dead when climate change really hits; what do they care? Let the grandchildren figure it out.
It's a scandal hiding in plain sight, and one is not optimistic about change.