Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Good Day for Progressives: No to Pipeline (and Rape)

It was a bad day for the oil industry, and probably the fading reelection hopes of Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), but a good day for environmentalists, and by extension, the environment, as the Keystone XL Pipeline was again rejected by the Senate – though this time by a single vote (NYT). While this is a victory for those who believe we should probably try to save our dying planet before it is too late, coming on the back of the historic agreement Obama signed with China last week to reduce carbon emissions, it might be short lived, as the handover of power to the GOP in January might be the final blow to the environmental groups who have spent millions fighting the bill for seven long years now (against a much better financed oil industry). On the other hand, a newly-resilient President Obama could well use his veto when the bill eventually ends up on his desk. But it is good news for progressive … a rarity of late.

The relation to the bigger narrative of America is hard to ignore. Republicans promised to come back to the issue right after the new year begins, allegedly because it will provide jobs, but clearly to serve their corporate patrons. Is this really what the American people just voted in? Let’s destroy the environment some more! That’s what they want? I think it shows how degraded our political process has become, particularly among the many democrats, and I’ve noticed political pundits on TV, who claim this is one of the issues Obama should be flexible on. The inability of the press to put the current political climate into a historical and contemporary context is maybe the most disturbing element of this latest election. Missing from their analysis, with a very few exceptions, are the two biggest stories: 1) Money playing a huge role in this election, together with a suppression of the poor and minority vote, facilitated by the two Bush appointees to the Supreme Court, and 2) The policy of obstructionism when not in power and “mandate-politics” whenever they have it that has ruled the party since the start of the Clinton Presidency over two decades ago. The GOP clearly does not have the interests of the public in mind with the policies they appear poised to pursue, but too many of the public continue to believe just the opposite no matter what the facts tell them, doggonit!

In a completely unrelated story, NBC has cancelled the new pilot that was to star Bill Cosby, after allegations about repeated rapes in the past began to percolate with increasing force in the press (NYT). Ironically, it was only a few weeks ago that The New Yorker ran a relative hagiography on the aging comic, who is beloved across racial and generational lines, though his popularity certainly took a hit among some after his rant at the 2004 NAACP Brown v. Board of Education anniversary dinner (Clip of the Infamous Pound Cake speech). It is possible that Cosby is the victim of a smear campaign, but that seems rather unlikely, particularly given the number of women involved. It is certainly a tragedy to many, including me, to think that this beloved comic genius who has graced the airwaves on and off for several decades – from the 80s forward with the avuncular charm that seems to channel our collective dreams of a better, more innocent and less racially divisive America – but appears to demonstrate the national dialogue on violence against women is not over, and that we might start to take on this ubiquitous and tragic problem more seriously in the future.

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