Reid hoists the white flag

It won’t be a surprise to anybody who has watched this Senate, but Harry Reid announced that the cap-and-trade bill is dead. The bill was the latest in a series of increasingly weaker efforts to appear to be doing something about greenhouse gas emissions. The reasons for this are several-fold. First, the Senate allows itself to be ruled by a minority. “In order to pass comprehensive legislation, you have to have 60 votes,” said Senator [John] Kerry. “To get 60 votes, you’ve got to have Republicans. As of today, we don’t have one Republican.” Though this rule is not in the U.S. Constitution, which everybody in politics today (especially on the right) claims is the highest wisdom every achieved by men, it nevertheless governs the Senate, making any kind of meaningful change, regardless of the exigency, impossible.

Second, and related, the Republicans of the Senate are a useless reactionary party interested only in tax relief for the wealth and business and playing a kind of hypocritical “morality” to appease a poor base who have been convinced that things such as abortion, gun ownership, creationism and the like are more important than the well-being of their family, much less the planet.

Third, the Senate Democrats believe they are not accountable to anyone but their colleagues (or former colleagues in the case of Joe Lieberman) and their campaign contributors. There will be no new entries in Profiles in Courage for a very long time.

Fourth, the right wing of this country has pursued a successful strategy of vilifying everything associated with universities and science. That’s why they play their game with evolution and creationism — not because they care — but because it helps further slander those investigating empirical data. The right wing does not need data, they have theory. In fact when their theories conflict with the real world, they reject the real world. And they have an assortment of media to help them out. All of the media interconnect, and the Republicans have over the years been successful in preventing any regulation of the controls. By skillful Supreme Court nominations (and supine Democrats on confirmation hearings), the prospect of unlimited corporate control of Congress (as opposed to near-total control that recently existed) is upon us.

Fifth, the Administration is either secretly right wing or has no backbone or is playing a kind of game of triangulation that even Bill Clinton and his second term advisers couldn’t conceive of. It is no longer credible that Barack Obama believes in bi-partisanship as an ideology (stupid as that was before), unless we assume that he also has no use for his empirical sensory organs.

So there we have it — the reasons why the U.S. Government is helpless to act on the most important global issue of our time: Self-interest, love of power, stupidity, cravenness, etc. These were all the things that the authors of the Federalist Papers warned us against. But despite the warnings, we have succumbed.

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