GOP as security threat

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism, Decline and Fall, Extremism at 2:03 pm by George Smith

Back at the end of 2010 I enumerated a year end list — the biggest threats to the nation’s security. They were all internal and that old list is here.

All the threats still exist. But number 4 on the list — the Republican Party — has climbed to the top. And that is because since December 2010, the stakes have become higher, the disasters greater. Even less has been done.

At the time:

The Republican Party is a threat to security. And not solely because of its descent into right-wing extremism …

As the party that denies science, one that will put people in committee chairmanships overseeing science and technology issues in the House who are basically opposed to science whenever it contradicts their political views, the GOP poses a threat to America’s future.

You can’t have a forward-looking and capable nation with people in power who truly believe global warming and evolution are hoaxes.

During the past election, global warming was a third rail issue. The President would not speak of it.

In fact, about the only thing he would talk about with any connection to it was how avid a developer of fossil fuels he would be. And Mitt Romney made a joke of global warming it at the Republican National Convention.

And then came Sandy, a storm so violent it delivered notice that in the future there would be more of the same.

Two weeks after the election the Associated Press ran this story, on weather disasters and the impact of the Republican Party on science and the recognition of it:

The nation’s lifelines — its roads, airports, railways and transit systems — are getting hammered by extreme weather beyond what their builders imagined, leaving states and cities searching for ways to brace for more catastrophes like Superstorm Sandy.

Even as they prepare for a new normal of intense rain, historic floods and record heat waves, some transportation planners find it too politically sensitive to say aloud the source of their weather worries: climate change.

Political differences are on the minds of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, whose advice on the design and maintenance of roads and bridges is closely followed by states. The association recently changed the name of its Climate Change Steering Committee to the less controversial Sustainable Transportation, Energy Infrastructure and Climate Solutions Steering Committee.

Still, there is a recognition that the association’s guidance will need to be updated to reflect the new realities of global warming.

In the immediate future, global warming is going to cost life. It means the continuing destruction of infrastructure on a national scale. We can only cope with it.

But at this time the gift of the Republican Party has made movement on the issue, except in sneaking inches by government agency, impossible. The GOP has successfully convinced almost half the nation to share in its dangerous know-nothing-ism, aided and abetted by reactionary mega-corporate interests, plutocrat money and the fossil fuel industries which choose to maintain a status quo at the expense of everyone else.

“[Several] climate scientists say sea level along New York and much of the Northeast is about a foot higher than a century ago, mostly because of man-made global warming, and that added significantly to the damage when Sandy hit,” wrote the AP.

Yet, “In conservative states, the term ‘climate change’ is often associated with left-leaning politics … Planning for weather extremes is hampered by reluctance among many officials to discuss anything labeled ‘climate change’ … The Obama administration has also shied away from talking publicly about adaptation to climate change. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s office refused to allow any department officials to be interviewed by The Associated Press …”

It is not a bipartisan issue. The Republican Party and its bankrollers are entirely responsible for paralyzing a national response to global warming and accurate assessment and preparation for catastrophic weather. Democratic politicians won’t address it because to speak of it immediately mobilizes millions of dollars against them in re-election campaigns, all furnished by the radical right.

If it were Switzerland, Luxembourg or Andorra perhaps this would not matter. But we are not those countries and it very obviously does matter.

And it should come as a source of great outrage to the American people that the Republican Party would appoint a science-denier, Lamar Smith of Texas, to chair that body’s science panel. One can look at it as purely a political step taken to help guarantee paralysis as a national response.

The paralysis also infiltrates security and mainstream pundits.

In a column at CNN, the “deputy director of the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation,” Patrick Doherty, writes on the challenges facing the nation.

“The U.S. must meet challenges such as climate change … says Patrick Doherty,” reads the caption under a photo of wreckage.

“Climate change is already with us,” Doherty writes. “Superstorm Sandy, the Derecho, Arctic melting, and droughts in the Midwest, India, China, and Russia this past year confirm the scientifically proven trend.”

Nowhere in the piece does Doherty acknowledge the political obstacle, the Republican Party, which has made dealing with it, even in some small ways, virtually impossible.

In fact, Doherty points to a column from Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, as something which may carry good advice on meeting American challenges. His use is to imply how the US could mobilize business capital by, for example, giving a corporate tax break to America’s big multi-nationals. But the Blankfein column is more interesting for how anti-solving problems it is.

However, in case no one actually read it (at the Wall Street Journal), here’s a small bit of its advice:

For the first time in several generations, it has become clear that abundant domestic energy resources are within our reach, and that we have the technology to responsibly and safely extract it. The government needs to work with the private sector to implement effective and far-reaching policies to develop these resources.

That’s what you call a gold-plated recommendation for expanded use and mining of fossil fuels. Call it the accelerate-and-exacerbate-global warming answer to the problem of climate change. Blankfein, of course, does not have to worry about this. When climate change turns the Manhattan neighborhood of Goldman Sachs into a skyscraper version of Stiltsville in the Biscayne Bay, he will be gone.

Today, at the Washington Post, Eugene Robinson laments the inaction:

You also might not have noticed that we’re barreling toward a “world of unprecedented heat waves, severe drought, and major floods in many regions.” Here in Washington, we’re too busy to pay attention to such trifles …

Meanwhile, evidence mounts that the legacy we pass along to future generations will be a parboiled planet.

But even Robinson can’t bring himself to write that it’s the GOP that has derailed the matter in the US.

To his credit he recommends the President do something:

And this is why President Obama should devote his next State of the Union address to climate change. He understands the science and knows the threat is real. Convincing the American people of this truth would be a great accomplishment …

The President has won re-election. There is no further political cost the GOP can extract from him. Telling the people about global warming in no uncertain terms is something he can do. Barack Obama can spell out who has blocked action, the very anti-science beliefs of the Republican Party, who supports them, and what the consequences have been at the federal and local level.

What was the Obama administration’s effort to battle climate change, or at least increase informed recognition of it, in the last year?

About zero.

However, the White House did issue a draft executive order on infrastructure cybersecurity in late September.

“Fueled by global warming, polar ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are now melting three times faster than they did in the 1990s, a new scientific study says,” reads a story, today, from the AP.

“Greenland is really taking off,” National Snow and Ice Data Center scientist Ted Scambos told the news agency. Scambos is a a co-author of the paper referenced by the AP and published in the peer-reviewed journal, Science.

Previously — the GOP — anti-science menace.

So if many in our country think that putting a modern Republican in power is a way to move the place forward, to help it deal with the very complex global problems with which it is currently faced, they’re one with entropy, which is the falling apart of everything, from order to disorder, until there is nothing left. That’s a tragedy and we should not delude ourselves that such actions, behaviors or opinions defend anything worthwhile.


  1. Frank said,

    December 2, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Arkham, eh.

    Is Robin going to study as Miskatonic?


    (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

  2. George Smith said,

    December 2, 2012 at 9:46 am

    He may not be in good shape after he gets out.