Carl Pope

McConnell's comeback to Biden's big plan is simple: Austerity, stagnation or both

Here's the biggest problem with Republican complaints that President Biden's American Jobs Act puts too little money — $621 billion — into ports, roads and bridges: Their so-called alternative would spend less than half as much on those urgent needs, only $236 billion.

So when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is asked why he opposes the act, which would fund desperately needed enhancements to the bridge which crosses the Ohio River between Kentucky and Ohio, carrying 3% of America's GDP across it every year, he doesn't say his alternative would fix it — because it wouldn't. He simply grumps that he's not willing to raise taxes and increase the deficit to fix the bridge.

The maximum the Republicans will allow for all infrastructure projects is $600 billion — but the backlog of repairs alone of U.S. roads and bridges is $740 billion. Republicans are thus opposed, in principle, to investing the funds needed to give the U.S. world class infrastructure.

Austerity is the first principle the Republicans say they won't yield on. And here's the second: stagnation. Biden's proposal contains about $600 billion to accelerate U.S. leadership in 21st-century critical technologies like broadband internet, clean energy, a modernized national grid, electric vehicles and distributed manufacturing. These technology investments can be designed to pay for themselves out of the profits they generate, if Republicans prefer it that way. For example, the fuel cost savings of electrifying new postal delivery trucks would create a hefty surplus. (In just this fashion the Obama administration's investments in wind and solar energy and electric vehicles paid for themselves and made a profit.) So there is in fact no rational fiscal argument against profitable technology investments.

But Republicans object to the very idea of investing in U.S. technology leadership, because new technologies will displace the coal, oil and gas whose corporate producers and lobbyists currently fund the Republican Party. They are clinging to yesterday's economy. At one recent House hearing, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., argued that Chinese leadership in electric cars was somehow an argument against U.S. investment in EVs. Acting as if the electric vehicle future were optional, Rodgers questioned "the security impacts of the United States trading its strategic advantage in fossil energy for more reliance on supply chains from China."

This profound commitment to technology stagnation is the second pillar of Republican resistance to infrastructure investment. That neatly captures the American reality; a bipartisan infrastructure bill is blocked not by Biden or McConnell or Chuck Schumer's attitude about how the Senate should work, but by the fiercely defended Republican principles of spending as little as possible and changing as little as possible.

It's important to understand that during the last six years Republicans could have pushed an ambitious infrastructure bill through the Senate and House, attracting Democratic support and a White House signature, and financed it with user fees, a gasoline or perhaps a carbon tax and other business-friendly revenues. They could have crafted one big enough to meet the deferred maintenance gap on roads, bridges, ports, airports, water supplies, dams and sewers; and big enough to enable the U.S. to start catching up with China on high-tech innovations like advanced batteries and electric trucks. They didn't even offer one.

Now that we have a Democratic version to start with, we need to ask the opposition party the following questions:

  1. How do Republicans propose to finance the $500 billion gap between their proposed infrastructure compromise and the funds needed just to repair America's roads and bridges?
  2. What is the Republican plan to replace the thousands of miles of lead pipes and other unsafe drinking water infrastructure that is poisoning American families, also with an estimated backlog of over $500 billion? (These two items by themselves present a bare-bones need for $1 trillion.)
  3. Since we all appear to agree that broadband is important, what is their competing plan for catching the U.S. up with its "socialist" European competitors in terms of broadband access and speed? How would they pay for it?
  4. Finally, how do they propose to win the 21st-century innovation race with China and Europe for leadership in advanced technologies like wind, solar, telecommunications, distributed manufacturing and electrified transportation?

If they can't come up with reasonable answers that go beyond polite terms for austerity and stagnation, we should recognize that allowing the Republicans to block Biden's investment agenda means choosing a grim future for our country.

It means that in 2030 Americans will still drive dirty and expensive oil-powered cars and trucks on potholed roads across unreliable and congested bridges — vehicles other countries no longer allow to be imported and sold. American shippers will pay twice as much to get goods across the country as their Chinese competitors. Households will still endure unreliable and expensive utility bills, while wondering whether the drinking water in their taps is poisoning their children.

Even more of us will know a friend or neighbor who lost their job because the factory where they worked could no longer compete with China. American workers won't be able to compete with Europe for the digital jobs of 2040 because their broadband access won't be fast enough. This won't happen because of partisanship or the filibuster, although those are major barriers. It will happen because one of our two major parties is clinging to an impoverished view of what government should do for its people and to yesterday's fading fossil-fuel economy, which very soon will genuinely be unable to afford the investments America needs.

Conservatives simply don't want majority rule. The filibuster has been their weapon since before the Civil War

Mitch McConnell's claim that "the filibuster is the essence of the Senate" has been tossed aside by his opponents as bad history, violently inconsistent with how Jefferson, Hamilton or Madison aimed to structure the Senate, and perhaps even unconstitutional. All true. But what McConnell's screed should remind us is that the filibuster has always been the essence of the politics of white supremacy — even as it now poses a broader threat to democracy itself.

McConnell draws on a playbook stretching back to John C. Calhoun, who as vice president in 1841 forged the filibuster into a conscious instrument to block majoritarian democracy as part of his project of creating a durable framework for slavery in a nation he knew would eventually vote against it. Calhoun, generations of Southern senators and now McConnell have shared a determination that majority votes should not be the last word in the United States. Privileged minorities should be able to override the will of the entire people — if their interests are endangered. Yes, Calhoun was focused on slavery and race, but his first filibuster was over national banking. The interest he sought to protect from a national majority was that of the South as a region, extending beyond slavery to issues like tariffs.

Chuck Schumer's attempts to shame McConnell for being anti-democratic — by seeking to shrink the electorate instead of persuading it — thus land flat on the right. McConnell is tapping into one of conservatism's deep obsessions: How can America avoid majoritarian democracy? And Calhoun, who was twice vice president and twice almost president, devised the precise answer that McConnell is deploying today. When McConnell refers to "consensus," he doesn't mean compromise that generates broad acceptance across divergent perspectives within a single electorate. He means that certain important subgroups — such as those who owned human beings as chattel, in Calhoun's day — should be allowed to veto legislation, however large the popular majority that favored it. Jefferson had asserted, "It is my principle that the will of the majority should always prevail" but Calhoun twisted this by asking, "Which minority cares the most?"

White supremacists have always been the exemplar of such a protected group. Calhoun devised his doctrine to protect them, calling such a system "concurrent majorities." (He envisaged them as interest groups, not political parties — his major difference with McConnell.)

Calhoun passed the torch to the leaders of the secession movement who then rooted the theory of the Confederacy in the soil of concurrent majorities. The Confederate constitution was thoroughly imbued with Calhoun's doctrine. As the Civil War drew to an end, Jefferson Davis made clear that he would not accept majority rule: "We seceded to rid ourselves of the rule of the majority…. Neither current events nor history shows that the majority rules, or ever did rule."

After the Civil War, the Reconstruction Amendments were intended to make America a democracy where the male majority ruled, regardless of race. This vision was subverted, using Calhoun's example, by repeated Senate filibusters blocking legislation to implement civil rights, a power specifically granted Congress by their authors. The justification? That "states" were a protected minority entitled to nullify majority decisions — in other words, the very issue that the Civil War was supposed to have settled!

The deep logic of filibuster and "concurrent majority" theory alike is the grant of white minority rights denied to an African-American minority. Carrying out Calhoun's theory as he envisaged requires deciding, a priori, that one race is entitled to greater deference than the other. (This exact logic led the Supreme Court to conclude, in the infamous Dred Scott decision, that to sustain the rights of slaveowners it was unavoidable to declare that Americans of African descent had no rights at all.) On matters of racial justice, defenders of the filibuster have always argued that reducing current inequalities between two groups required a supermajority, while sustaining inequality required only a robust minority.

White supremacists sustained this doctrine throughout the 20th century. Civil rights bill after civil rights bill went down in the Senate, throttled by the filibuster and defended with the argument, as Mississippi's Theodore Bilbo put it, that "a mob is a majority; without the filibuster the minority would be at the mercy of the majority." Bilbo's fears, of course, were not for the rights for the majority of Mississippians — the state was still 50% Black, and during the Jim Crow period African Americans had been a majority. The all-white political structure was the minority whose concurrence Bilbo demanded.

The broader conservative application of the concurrent majority concept was most clearly articulated by the John Birch Society after World War II with its singular focus on one goal: "America is a Republic, not a democracy. Let's keep it that way." But outside the South, ideological conservatives were too few in the Senate to otherwise abuse the filibuster.

The conventional wisdom after 1965 was that the debate about white supremacy — and the stain that most Americans thought it had laid on our national identity — had been ended by the civil rights movement, specifically the passage of the Voting Rights Act. But while explicit arguments for restricting access to the franchise by ethnic minorities, the poor or immigrants largely vanished, stripping the filibuster of its obvious racist identity actually made possible its contemporary weaponization.

Insisting on a Senate supermajority had been a challenging, expensive and rare option almost exclusively put in play to defend Jim Crow and white privilege. Now it became a strategic but routine Senate procedure, first deployed by Bob Dole to hamstring the Clinton administration and then by Harry Reid against George W. Bush. Finally, with Obama's election, Mitch McConnell unleashed the full force of the 60-vote loophole and imposed upon the Senate the very supermajority the founding fathers had specifically rejected. The toxin that Calhoun had first injected into the Senate to counter the future threat of majority rule now found its moment. The virus spread.

While the filibuster — the essence of Mitch McConnell's Senate — is the most powerful weapon the right-wing opponents of democracy have seized, Republicans in 2020 are deploying the full panoply of anti-democratic strategies devised over two and a quarter centuries by Calhoun's followers. The most important campaigns being waged by conservatives at this moment emphasize the spread of gerrymandered districts, purged voter rolls, legalized bribery, a politicized judiciary, state pre-emption of local home rule and crippling the executive authority of majoritarian governors, even Republican ones.

Every tool is designed to reduce the ability of the majority to govern. Changing voting rules or Senate processes such that the minority can prevail over the majority is a feature, not a bug. If endless voting lines in minority precincts in Georgia creates an opportunity to influence voters by offering them water, why else is the solution to make offering water a felony, rather than offering those citizens adequate numbers of voting booths?

Yes, the motivations may be — as some Republicans conceded in a Senate hearing last week — that if every American could vote easily, Republicans would lose because they are a minority. But Schumer's complaint about derailing majority rule, for many conservatives, misses the point. Some on the American right doesn't think the majority deserves to rule. Even more of it believes that voting and participation in governance are privileges to be earned, not rights to be protected. That's their understanding of "the consent of the governed." Mitch McConnell now has the Senate that John Calhoun always schemed for. That is the dilemma facing American democracy.

Mitch McConnell claims the filibuster has 'no racial history ...

www.alternet.org

Why Texas froze -- and California fried: This disaster was 90 years in the making

The catastrophe that swept Texas last week was 90 years in the making. Its roots lie in a decision during the 1930s to escape federal regulation of power rates under the terms of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal by forcing all Texas utilities to avoid importing or exporting power across state lines, thereby pretending that Texas electricity was not actually part of the national economy.

As the biggest oil and gas producer in the world, Texas had already set itself up in the business of regulating the global price of oil through the Texas Railroad Commission, which set limits on oil and gas production to keep oil prices artificially high. So going it alone on electricity prices seemed like a logical extension — except that in the case of electricity, Texas business wanted low prices, not high ones.

Implicit in the creation of what Texans call their "power island" was an understanding that cheap electricity was the only significant goal. Reliability came a distant second and clean air wasn't even on the radar screen. When Texas deregulated its electricity sector in 1999, it went further than most states. ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, kept prices low by refusing to pay utilities for keeping standby generation capacity in case of an extreme weather event. Since Texas also remained disconnected from other regions which might have provided backup power in the case of a shortage, the state denied itself any kind of safety net, either in-state or elsewhere.

Extreme heat waves were very much on the Texas radar, because high-demand summer days were frequent — and profitable for generators. So money was made, and summer blackouts were few, for almost 20 years. As the climate spun out of control, however, even in summer Texas barely avoided resorting to rolling blackouts to manage record demand during worsening hot spells. (In fact, in El Paso, on the state's western border, they happened.)

Meanwhile, the pretense that it never gets cold in Texas kept obstructing efforts to make the ERCOT grid winter-hardened. In 1989, federal regulators pointed out that Texas lacked simple weatherization measures common to more northern states. In 2011, winter storms triggered rolling blackouts. In 2014, the term "polar vortex" came into common use as Texas once again lost winter power. In 2018 and 2019, the polar vortex struck two years in a row.

Yet Texas business and political leaders kept insisting that the cost of winterizing the power system was simply not worth it. The state's major industrial power users didn't want to pay their share of the bill. Any conversation about providing backup by connecting the Texas grid to the rest of America remained totally off limits.

This year, of course, disaster became catastrophe. Those who doggedly opposed investments in reliability have had to find a new tune — their favorite being to blame renewable energy, in spite of manifest evidence that this is untrue.

Former Texas governor Rick Perry went to bat for the state's electron isolationism: "Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business." Perry went on to blame the state's reliance on wind power for the crisis, a richly ironic canard. It was Perry himself who led the campaign to create Texas's innovative and wind-power targeted CREZ transmission project, which was largely responsible for the fact that 2020 was the first year in which Texas got more electricity from wind than from coal.

Perry's scapegoating of his own wind revolution for the blackout was echoed by current Gov. Greg Abbott, who said, "Our wind and our solar got shut down, and they were collectively more than 10 percent of our power grid, and that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis." That was a lie. As the chart below shows, most of the collapse in power generation came from natural gas, coal and nuclear, since even in a normal winter Texas gets relatively little of its power from wind and solar. (Although Texas wind turbines lack simple weatherizing technology used by wind farms in other states to its north.)

Chart, histogram Description automatically generated

As the disasters cascaded — no power, shut-down oil and gas production, no water, unreliable food — voices from urban communities suffering freezing homes flooded by burst pipes began to fire back, blaming the state regulators for their refusal to invest in winter-hardy generation for the state. It was "just horrible to see," said Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson. "The power and water outages in Texas have created a situation that's worse than even the early days of the pandemic," warned Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from San Antonio.

But deeply ingrained in the Texas power sector was the governor's belief that hard freezes didn't happen often enough to be worth preparing for. That misguided belief was os deeply ingrained that when the Texas Monthly asked ERCOT CEO Bill Magness if the savings from failing to build resilience were worth it to consumers, he dismissed the question: "I am not aware that we have ever conducted a real cost-benefit analysis on that topic." That wasn't true. ERCOT had analyzed this, and it turned out that the agency's eight-year-old estimate of the daily cost of such a blackout was $2.8 billion — enough to cover a lot of weatherization. The 2020 freeze brought a whole new class of costs to bear. Not only was electricity generation shut down, but as a result so were many oil fields. IHS Markit estimated that the Texas freeze had shut down at least 20% of the nation's oil and gas production, largely in the Permian Basin, which made it harder to get gas-fired electricity back on line.

As more and more voters got more and more upset, a new refrain was heard, even from Abbott: Texas needed to weatherize. The governor called for a special legislative session to get it done, and was suddenly outraged. "Everyone knows how challenging the past few days have been for our fellow Texans," Abbott said. "All of us in the state of Texas believe it is completely unacceptable that you had to endure one minute of the challenge that you faced."

So can we write off the Texas tragedy to Lone Star exceptionalism? A quasi-secessionist electricity island, with inadequate requirements for getting ready for winter, pays the price?

Up close it looks like it. But pull back and include the summer of 2020, and it's clear that what went wrong in Texas has a lot do with the fires that brought California to its knees six months earlier. The summers of 2017 and 2018 had made it clear that California didn't have nearly enough firefighters standing by for an event like the lightning strikes that rained down in August 2020. It was also clear the state had allowed PG&E and its other utilities to invest too little in fire hardening rural power lines. Worse yet, most communities in the fire-hazard areas had failed to adopt or enforce adequate fireproofing measures on homes and businesses. But California's politics are — in the American context — at polar opposites to Texas. (In fact, California's problem is significantly harder to fix than the polar vortex threat to Texas.)

To understand why neither red nor blue America can reliably and safely provide electricity to its population, we need to contrast the American attitude towards natural disasters — they happen, but we recover — with the Dutch approach to flooding, which is more like: We can't prevent the storms, but we can protect ourselves against the damages. Since the Dutch adopted this attitude as national policy 70 years ago, not a single citizen has died in a flood. Prevention has proven cheaper than rescue and repair: Even though a third of the nation lies below sea level, Holland's annual expenditures for flood prevention, at $1.5 billion, are a fraction of American costs for flood recovery, even on a per capita basis.

If President Biden is looking for another issue on which he can unite the country, starting a conversation on the need to massively invest in fire, flood and storm resilience in a climate-stressed world offers a promising opportunity. How about "Build it back safely" as a subset of "Build it back better"?

Joe Biden's blitz on climate policy is impressive. Here's what it reveals about a broad American consensus

Just 10 days after the Biden administration took over, in alignment with the new president's overall blitz strategy, a flabbergasting phalanx of U.S. climate policies have been turned smartly on their heels and are marching toward the future. President Biden has returned the nation to the Paris Agreement, required truth-telling in government reporting, enforced a regulation that government purchases must feed U.S. supply chains rather than imports, terminated the massive giveaway of taxpayer property to coal, oil and gas extractors, restored the integrity of federal climate science, frozen a horde of horrible Trump environmental rollbacks, and even launched a New Deal-style Civilian Climate Corps. All that is already in the rear-view mirror as Biden's team moves on to the deeper work of a clean-energy, decarbonized and more inclusive economy.

Most Americans, who fear climate chaos, embrace clean energy opportunity and welcome American innovation and leadership, should be celebrating — and are. But hold your breath: The good news runs even deeper than this. The striking emphasis that the new administration has given to its "whole government" climate strategy; the repeatedly-noted climate depth of his Cabinet and sub-Cabinet appointees at the Treasury (Janet Yellen), the State Department (John Kerry), economic policy (Brian Deese), the Energy Department (Jennifer Granholm), the Department of Transportation (Pete Buttigieg), and the Department of the Interior (Deb Haaland); along with the breadth of new climate initiatives are only a part of the new administration's commitment to climate progress.

This shock-and -awe launch also reflects an external reality: The Trump administration's dogged march into the past had departed from any semblance of where America was headed. The first wave of climate progress under Biden is almost all "low-hanging fruit," "no regrets" and "we can all unite on this," because Trump's legacy was starkly at war with economic and marketplace reality, not just climate science.

Look at the chorus that has responded to Biden's climate drumbeat. Politico hails "a coalition that ranges from labor unions, anti-fracking activists and racial justice advocates to leaders of Wall Street, the auto industry and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce" as lining up with Biden's broad thrust. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on MSNBC boasts that his program to phase out internal combustion cars and trucks by 2030 is a winner because he already has the support not only of climate advocates but also of the United Auto Workers, Ford and General Motors.

While the obstacles still cited as lying in Biden's way are substantial, they are almost entirely inside the Beltway, where the powerful influence of fossil fuel-producing states like West Virginia (embodied in Sen. Joe Manchin) and Kentucky (Minority Leader Mitch McConnell) is repeatedly, and appropriately, recited. But what are oil companies, who wield the big fossil fuel stick, actually saying? Yes, they claim Biden is going too far, but almost exclusively in one narrow part of his program, the phase-out of oil, gas and coal extraction on federal lands.

Indeed, the oil industry is actually joining Biden's alliance in its emphasis on tougher drilling and pollution standards for extraction. Advocacy of carbon pricing in some form is also making its way into Houston lobbying memos.

In a deeply polarized Senate, getting legislation of any significance through is indeed going to test the new president's Capitol Hill negotiating chops. But climate is getting so much emphasis in Biden's first two weeks in large part because it has become a less, not more, divisive issue across American society. It's a good place for the new administration to bring the country together, perhaps because the communities that are taking the biggest climate hit — from fires, flooding, storms and energy sector layoffs — are overwhelmingly in regions where Trump, not Biden, came out on top. (A hidden secret is that rural America, which has become the heart of red America, is where storm, drought, fire and flood hit hardest. Miami Beach can afford sea walls. Cedar Rapids needs Uncle Sam to repair its levees.)

Biden's broader coalition — you could also throw in BlackRock, whose CEO, Larry Fink, devoted his annual letter to the urgency of business embracing the climate challenge — emerged even before the November election. Major oil companies had opposed Trump's efforts to block the cleanup of methane from oil and gas drilling. Ford and Volkswagen had partnered with California to undercut the Trump administration's rollbacks of auto emission limits. Most of the biggest power utilities had pledged to cut from 80% to 100% of their current carbon pollution. Sixteen states had persuaded even the deadlocked Congress to commit the U.S. to phasing out climate dangerous HFC refrigerants as part of the pandemic relief bill.

So climate progress is now a powerful American consensus, precisely because we have realized that it is not a matter of sacrifice, but of opportunity; not austerity but prosperity; not American decline but American recovery.

None of this means we can relax. Big coalitions, like convoys, can bog down at the speed of the slowest member. And the biggest looming barrier is that the faster decarbonization races ahead, the greater the risk to workers and communities left behind. While there are lots of good ideas floating around for how to enable fossil-dependent segments of our nation to ride the clean energy wave, most of them remain somewhat uncertain and gauzy — after all, only a year ago we were having trouble getting McConnell to agree to sustain pensions and health care for mineworkers in his own state.

If we don't take more seriously our need to spread the benefits of the clean energy transition to every zip code and every demography, we will blow our best change to make America truly great — for the 21st century.

Trump and the right share a Darwinist 'herd mentality' — and preference for sacrificing the weak to capitalism

Donald Trump's promise in an ABC News town hall last month that the United States would soon achieve herd immunity for the coronavirus, and conflating that with herd mentality, may be explained because Trump is counting on the latter to rescue his second term. It's otherwise impossible to imagine a campaign whose endgame is to recover the lost loyalty of voters over 65 selecting as its closing argument, "Not enough of you have died yet."

It's a safe bet that none of his 2016 Republican primary challengers would have embraced the idea that the solution to the pandemic was more American casualties than the Civil War and World War II combined. But many of Trump's Republican comrades-in-arms have embraced, often eagerly, a default preference for herd immunity — harkening back to the harsh social Darwinism that underlies much of modern conservatism. Early on in the pandemic there were Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Rep. Trey Hollingsworth of Indiana and radio host Glenn Beck, all of whom argued that the loss of more American lives was preferable to scaling back the economy. Then, when the issue became wearing masks, some opponents argued "if I'm going to get COVID and die from it, so be it …" Of course they really meant, "If you are going to get COVID ..." Wearing masks was a deprivation of freedom — although this argument seems never to have been extended by Republicans to the prohibition on public nudity.

As the pandemic surged again, by October Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin was referring to "unjustified hysteria" about covid, and asked, after he became infected, ""Why do we think we actually can stop the progression of a contagious disease?" (The obvious answer is that we have been doing so, with increasing success, since the 1854 cholera pump moment. That is rejected by many on the right, because stopping a pandemic may require the government to prevent citizens from endangering others.)

Herd immunity can sometimes reduce mortality from a disease, but over the centuries has failed to end the curse of influenza, tuberculosis, smallpox, polio, rabies or dengue fever. It fits neatly, however, into a social Darwinist framework. Those who die are the "weak" — the poorest, the youngest and the oldest young — or can at any rate be classified as weak and deserving to die, because they died. Survival of the fittest requires discarding the weak. Remember the "let them die" hecklers who populated some of the 2011 Republican debates on health care.

This underlying value distortion — my personal freedom extends to my right to endanger you — spreads out across a range of other issues. Today's Republican reluctance to curb pollution even when it is demonstrably is killing a power plant's neighbors, to keep pesticides that kill farm workers out of the fields or to do anything at all about the climate crisis, which conservatives have privately conceded for years was real and caused by carbon pollution, are all illustrations of how the toxin of social Darwinism still contaminates much of the right's thinking about freedom.

So Trump's response to the COVID crisis — and the willingness of the Republican congressional establishment to enable it — illustrates a deep-rooted flaw in the American right. In a world in which we are, like it or not, all bound together, a tolerable conservatism is one that is willing to protect me from irresponsible neighbors, whether those are COVID-risking teenagers, irresponsible gun owners or multinational chemical companies.

The West faces apocalypse — and we need a national solution

The clash between Donald Trump and Joe Biden over the roots of the West's apocalyptic fire season has missed the crucial point – perhaps because neither candidate is targeting the solidly Democratic Pacific Coast.

Keep reading... Show less

How the so-called champion of American business fought to protect profiteering — and endangered millions

As hospital intensive care units overflow again, and delays in COVID-19 testing reports reach record levels in many cities, a conversation I recently with Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, reminded me that I had forgotten something utterly critical: Donald Trump's decision to unilaterally disarm America in the face of the coronavirus invasion was urged upon him by an ostensible defender of American business: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Keep reading... Show less

Biden's campaign is pivoting dramatically as the world undergoes a staggering shift on climate

On Tuesday, Joe Biden embraced a 2035 phase out for fossil fuel power generation, committed his first administration to $2 trillion in climate solutions investments — triple the amount he had previously promised — and framed both with his strongest linkage yet of clean energy and a million new jobs: "When I think about climate change, the word I think of is 'jobs'."

Keep reading... Show less

The administration's radical attempt to sabotage auto emissions rules is more than a damaging assault on pollution regulations. It's a stealth attempt to rewrite federal law

President Trump's proposed drastic relaxation of future auto emissions standards has been widely blasted as a repeal of "the government's biggest effort to combat climate change." Careful readers have also noted that the Trump proposal would kill 300 Americans every year and cost every driver about $2,100 in higher costs by wasting about 80 billion gallons of gasoline.

Keep reading... Show less

Trump was elected on promises to boost the coal industry and halt the transition to electric cars. It's not working

For two years the cabal of fossil fools surrounding Donald Trump have  leveraged an impulsive president's loathing of his predecessor, tapped their reactionary right-wing networks, mobilized coal and oil lobbies and political donations, and thrown themselves vigorously into two missions:

Keep reading... Show less
BRAND NEW STORIES

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.