Sam Uretsky

GOP Counts on Failing Memories

The population of the United States is aging, and so it’s easy to imagine a group of political strategists sitting around a table, when one of them announces, “Hey guys” (they’re all guys — these are Republican strategists) “it’s the recent memory that goes first!”

That would go a long way to explaining Republican political strategies since the 2010 election. Laws and regulations are never issued in advance of need; even the Ten Commandments had to wait for Exodus while all the things that were prohibited had been done back in Genesis.

Government generally takes the approach of waiting for the apocalypse and then passing a law prohibiting groups of more than three horsemen at a time.

Lately, the Republicans have taken the approach of complaining about the solutions and hoping we’ll forget the problems they were intended to solve.

The Affordable Healthcare Act hadn’t been implemented, but the Republicans were running with the promise to repeal and replace — although the only replacement they had to offer was the mess that the Act was intended to repair.

They won the election, so it seems foolish to question their logic. Even so, the strategy isn’t perfect. On March 10, House Speaker John Boehner spoke against President Obama’s energy policy.

The Wall Street Journal reported: “Mr. Boehner didn’t dust off the GOP’s 2008 energy policy slogan, ‘Drill, Baby, Drill!’ But his new energy plan – the ‘American Energy Initiative’ — calls for more domestic oil and gas drilling, faster approval for nuclear facilities, and an end to Environmental Protection Agency efforts to regulate greenhouse gases.”

Interestingly, the speech was made on the first anniversary of President Obama’s announcement that he was prepared to open areas along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling.

The President’s approval was withdrawn after the BP oil spill that lasted for five months, from April through September 2010, but possibly we’ve forgotten that. But, in what may qualify him for the Washington Post’s Worst Week in Washington award, Mr. Boehner’s speech was followed the next day by an explosion at a Japanese nuclear plant.

While the Japanese managed to avoid a nuclear meltdown, the near catastrophe seems like a reminder that there are worse things than $4-a-gallon gasoline.

A widely distributed Reuters report suggested that the weather for the winter of 2010-2011 was consistent with climate change, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Warming trends would lead to increased moisture in the air, leading to more snow. The next step will be flooding after the spring thaw melts the snow.

As a final note, on Feb. 26 the New York Times reported on its ongoing investigation of the hazards of natural gas extraction. But natural gas releases fewer greenhouse gases than coal or oil and is plentiful in the United States.

It is comparatively inexpensive as an energy source and can be adapted to use in many applications, including as a motor fuel; the hazards of water pollution from methods used for natural gas extraction pose greater hazards than have been reported in the past.

Some conclusions seem basic. We need energy. At some point in the future we may get along without fuel, relying on solar, wind, tidal and geothermal sources, but we’re not ready yet.

What we need in the meantime is intelligent discussion, review of the options, and well designed regulations to minimize that damage that every one of our current sources of energy can cause.

In place of intelligent discussion and well designed regulations, we’ve got partisan bombast. Shortly before Mr. Boehner spoke, Sen. McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate minority leader, said “Americans looking at the price of gas at the pump these days are justifiably upset.

What they may not realize is that some in the administration are actively working to prevent us from increasing our own oil production here at home.”

It wasn’t that long ago that we sat in front of our television sets, watching the oil gush out of a pipe thousands of feet below the Gulf of Mexico.

We wondered if this marked the end of the world — and now Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell are complaining that we aren’t rushing for a 2011 summer rerun. After all, it’s the most recent memory that goes first.

Sam Uretsky is a pharmacist living on Long Island, N.Y. Email

From The Progressive Populist, April 15, 2011

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