Breaking Up With the GOP. A White Boy’s Lament.

After the election we were determined to contribute something meaningful to the pantheon of political discourse in America. To inspire other white guys who wondered, “what the fuck happened to the Republican Party?”

After election season, sickened by the toxic atmosphere we soaked in during an endless campaign of lies and betrayal of our ideals, my friend Billy and I pondered over the demise of the Republican Party. Personally, I grew up a Republican, believing in the mythology of our two-party system and living under the illusion that American governance resembles democracy. There were Republicans all around and they seemed like lovely people, so I blithely went about my business believing that I was a Republican as well. Monkey see, monkey do.

Billy is far more cynical and savvy. A street smart kid from Brooklyn, he has a keen ability to read between the lines. He’s skilled at the art of pantomime, reading people like tarot cards and “calling bullshit” frequently. I’m more philosophical, and am skilled at the art of politics. I believe that politics is indeed a bloodsport and I’m game to play all day, every day. Billy believes life is bloodsport and he too is game. He indulges my ramblings on the death of empire, the evils of inequality and importance of civil rights and he makes me listen to the Afghan Whigs and Mos Def.

After the dust settled from the election we were determined to collaborate on an important political project. To contribute something meaningful to the pantheon of political discourse in America. To inspire other white guys who wondered either privately, or aloud, “what the fuck happened to the Republican Party?”

So we recorded what you kids would call a “rap.”

(My wife wrote and performed the chorus. She has regretted it ever since.)

Lyrics:

I’m a white man. I’m your prime demographic.
Used to vote “R” down the line, just out of habit.
But I started listening, then I started thinking.
How did we get so far from the party of Lincoln.

TEDDY ROOSEVELT! Rolling in his grave.
He’d be very disappointed in the way that you behave.
You pushed me away more than you realize,
Voted for Obama (TWICE!) cuz I’m disenfranchised.

You wanna bring together your church and my state?
When your church says deliver even in the case of rape?
Legitimate rape? There’s a difference?
Go sell your hate somewhere else and focus on your own sins.

Chorus:
Liberty. Democracy. Made for you and me. Oh say can you see.
Liberty. Democracy. Made for you and me. Oh say can you see.

This republic can overcome Republicans
who say the rights of a women ain’t equal to a man.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH! IT’S THE FREEDOM TO TEACH!
To reach out and speak out these truths that we seek.

And these truths? They’re self evident.
Two hundred thirty years now we got a black president.
THAT’S CALLED PROGRESS, SON. Overcoming race.
Content of character, not color of face.

Cash from the Koch Brothers, Citizens United
Yeah we one nation, NOW WE DIVIDED
Footsie with Monsanto, taking care of Big Oil
Loopholes and tax breaks on the backs of the poor. COME ON!

Chorus

White upper middle class Republican.
But now these feelings come to pass.
And Occupy she’s got a sexy ass
So now I’m looking down a different path
It’s time for me to let my old earth go
I grab my thoughts and then I’m out the door
My heart pump truth and needs to keep it real
With a party that cares how people feel
So one last time before I walk on out
Silent middle finger I don’t need to shout

CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL. Tyrannosaurus roamed the earth.
There was life on the planet before Jesus’ birth.
Locking up Latinos, yell “Illegal Immigration”
And conveniently forget this was an Indian nation. WE STOLE IT.

NOTHING GRAND ABOUT THIS PARTY
Yo, rescind my invitation.
I’ll take Elizabeth Warren.
Ya’ll can keep Sarah Palin.

 

 

 

Energy and the Environment

If Democrat Barack Obama was Republican Brian O’Malley, his actions and record thus far would place him among the greatest Republican presidents of the modern era; a socially moderate, fiscal conservative with an itchy trigger finger.

The Earth has enjoyed moments as the cause célèbre in America but nothing trumps our good mother like a great recession. To the best of my recollection she even failed to make an appearance during the presidential debates. This lack of information makes deciding which candidate would be better for the environment over the next four years difficult.

We do have the benefit of some information, however. For example, the Republican platform has been virulently anti-environment. Each candidate during primary season took turns trying to out-pollute the other in the name of progress, calling for the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency, the loosening of drilling restrictions and the construction of a pipeline from Canada to Texas. Green energy was mocked and global warming ridiculed. Republicans eagerly portrayed every Democrat as Jimmy Carter in a cardigan and an eco-zealot.

If only that were true.

The fact of the matter is that the Democrats have little to point to in the way of environmentalism themselves. Sure the pipeline was stalled and fuel efficiency standards were increased, but that’s about it.

Our understanding of the environment and our relationship to it through food, water, air and energy is far more sophisticated than our politics and policies. But no matter how broad the consensus on climate change is in the scientific community or how widespread the anecdotal evidence of our decaying Earth and corrupt food supply is, we are all guilty of willful blindness with respect to the urgency required to face our challenges.

President Obama talks a good game, which indicates he is aware of both the seriousness of our environmental peccadillo and the political reality that prevents meaningful change. And, in fairness, when presented with a clear opportunity to affect change he did so by sending billions of dollars flowing into the clean energy research field when the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, aka “Obama stimulus,” was passed. Of course, the only thing people now associate with this act is the failure of Solyndra despite the fact that the funding mechanism for this particular company was established during the Bush administration. The stimulus simply added liquidity to an existing plan.

But it was Obama’s calculated risk against overtly touting this investment into clean energy that blew back on him in two ways. The first is that the American public, particularly those who consider themselves champions of the environment, have little idea these investments were made and therefore believe he failed them. Compounding this sentiment is that these investments have little short-term payoff and are therefore less tangible. The second is that the opposition was able to make Solyndra synonymous with the stimulus, thereby presenting it as the rule instead of the exception.

This risky decision of quiet messaging does, however, make political sense. After all, any attempt on the part of the White House to put the environment in the spotlight before the economy would have had terrible repercussions to Obama’s polling figures. He is already derided by paranoid right-wing conspiracy theorists (with national talk shows) as being a closet Muslim and a socialist who sympathizes with terrorists and apologizes for America every chance he gets. Oh, and was born in Africa.

But as I have often contended, if Democrat Barack Obama was Republican Brian O’Malley, his actions and record thus far would place him among the greatest Republican presidents of the modern era; a socially moderate, fiscal conservative with an itchy trigger finger. But, he’s a black Democrat whose re-election is for many in this nation a sure sign of the Apocalypse.

So, politically, I get it. Below-the-radar environmental work is better than installing solar panels on the White House roof again. There’s proof that this is a bad reelection strategy. Morally, however, I was hoping for what everyone else who voted for Obama was hoping for: that he would enthusiastically champion a progressive social and environmental agenda—one that took aggressive action against oil companies and Wall Street speculators and fought evil agra-giants like Monsanto and ConAgra.

Unfortunately, any hope we had of Obama challenging the Koch brothers to a duel on Pennsylvania Avenue or executing a hostile takeover of ExxonMobil were dashed when moderate policy Vulcan Barack Obama took the Oath of Office instead of liberal cigarette smoking Chi-Town radical Barry Obama.

To really confuse matters, no one pressed either guy into stating plans to protect the environment. Moreover, they have both adopted this mantra of “all of the above” with respect to energy policy. Nothing bold, sensible or sustainable. Just “yes” to everything and deal with the consequences later.

So what makes this week’s topic so hard to dissect is that no one seems to care much about it. Perhaps more than any other topic I’ve covered thus far in this election series, the fight over Mother Earth has been reduced to choosing between the lesser of two evils. I know it’s a hackneyed phrase, but it’s appropriate, nonetheless. Essentially it boils down to this: Mitt Romney’s “all of the above” plan includes eliminating the EPA and letting oil companies drill in Central Park if they want to; whereas, Obama’s “all of the above plan” stops just short of that.

Sorry, Mother Earth. When unemployment dips below 5 percent and the Dow reaches 15,000, we’ll be sure to call and check in. Until then it’s the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon.

Slight edge to Obama.

#OWS WK4: Kaptur and Gramm and Schumer, Oh My.

Tying the tubes of banks that have been, ahem, fornicating with the global economy and impregnating speculative bubbles only to watch them burst, will only hasten the inevitable seismic crash that looms around the corner. Breaking up the banks will happen one way or another…either by the law of the land or the law of nature.

The only phrase in connection with Occupy Wall Street repeated more often than “We are the 99%” is “What do they want?” The former is, of course, the rallying cry inviting citizens to join the movement against plutocracy in America—a show of strength against corporate greed and government corruption. The latter is the response to the growing number of dissenters in the “American Autumn”—criticism for their lacking a coherent list of specific demands. Personally, the only thing I find lacking is the imagination embodied by this mindless question.

The communal process of exploration and debate taking place in Zuccotti Park is like nothing I’ve ever seen. There are plenty of cogent, specific demands to be heard, but only by those who are willing to listen. A good deal of patience and a pinch of intellect are helpful because this isn’t a bumper-sticker movement and the occupiers don’t suffer fools (Geraldo) gladly.

There is no substitute for visiting the park and absorbing democracy, grassroots style. This past weekend my wife and I brought our two children with us to witness history unfolding in Manhattan, as it will someday grace the pages of a textbook, or a tablet, during their college years. With that said, allow me to indulge the frothing masses with a chunk of raw meat by examining one of the cornerstone issues behind OWS: Glass-Steagall.

Breaking the Bank: A Brief History of Glass-Steagall

In short, this was the name of the Act that prohibited commercial banks from engaging in investment-banking activities, among other things. It was established in 1933 to tame the harmful speculative behavior of an industry run amok in the early part of the 20th century; behavior largely credited for the market crash that precipitated the Great Depression. Fast forward to the waning days of the Clinton administration when the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act repealed the meat of Glass-Steagall and cleared the way for the greatest, most rapid consolidation of banking interests and wealth in recorded history.

Reinstating Glass-Steagall is, of course, easier said than done. Technically, the mechanics of doing it are fairly simple from a structural perspective, though it would cause massive upheaval in the banking world for several years to come. What is almost beyond comprehension are the circumstances that allow banks to continue gambling promiscuously in the world markets, which is a direct result of complementary deregulatory measures, globalization and an extraordinarily loose monetary policy.

These three factors have allowed banks to engage in worldwide investment schemes using cheap, borrowed money in a manner that is both irresponsible and opaque. In other words, be careful what you wish for. Tying the tubes of banks that have been, ahem, fornicating with the global economy and impregnating speculative bubbles only to watch them burst, will only hasten the inevitable seismic crash that looms around the corner. Breaking up the banks will happen one way or another…either by the law of the land or the law of nature.

Protestors from Zuccotti Park to San Francisco are keenly aware of this reality. They have an extremely sophisticated view of the world that goes beyond what we have seen in other movements both here and abroad. It’s their appreciation for complexity and nuance that makes it impossible to translate demands into bite-sized morsels for the media to gobble up and regurgitate into the mouths of shrieking birds in the nest that many television viewers have become.

To make matters worse, our elected federal representatives have no idea how to respond appropriately to a leaderless, populist movement. Apart from some platitudinous, mealy-mouthed responses from ranking Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi or truculent, dismissive statements from the likes of Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), the upper echelon of American politics is collectively clicking its heels and hoping to wake up on the farm after the storm.

But there is hope for us yet–from someplace you might not expect.

A Buckeye Bulls Eye

Ohio’s 9th Congressional District cradles the southernmost tier of Lake Erie and has been steadfastly represented by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) for the three decades. Despite the presence of rollicking Toledo in the westernmost part of her district, things have been pretty quiet in the ninth. Until now.

Ohio’s much ballyhooed loss of two Congressional seats due to redistricting has resulted in a mash up of Kaptur’s 9th district and the neighboring 10th represented by fellow Democratic Congressman, Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich, who has long-represented the most progressive wing of the Democratic caucus, ran back-to-back failed campaigns for the presidential nomination, but he gained more notoriety when he famously called for the impeachment of co-Presidents George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for manufacturing evidence that pushed us into war with Iraq at a cost of nearly $2 trillion, thousands of U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of  civilians. Somehow, this effort lacked the same traction and enthusiasm as the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton for, well, you know.

The combination of the 9th and 10th districts has given new life to Kucinich, who might otherwise have been homeless after Ohio’s redistricting plan, as he is planning to primary Kaptur for the seat. Not to be outdone, the GOP has recruited newcomer Samuel Wurzelbacher to run on the Republican ticket. This development would be of little moment, however, if Wurzelbacher wasn’t none other than “Joe The Plumber,” who made headlines during the McCain-Obama race. Although it was later revealed that he was neither “Joe” nor a licensed plumber, Wurzelbacher became an oft-abused example of the disenfranchised workingman in America. Not content to be a footnote in American political history, Wurzelbacher now seeks to extend his 15 minutes of fame by attempting to join the ranks of hundreds of other talentless slobs who also have no business running the country.

This entire hubbub overshadows one of the most interesting things to come out of this part of Ohio. Earlier this year Kaptur revived a failed effort during the previous Congress to reinstate regulations repealed under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999. Kaptur’s bill, H.R. 1489, is appropriately titled “Return to Prudent Banking Act of 2011,” and it has the support of 45 sponsors, one of whom is Dennis Kucinich.

The men behind the original bill in question—Gramm, Leach and Bliley—are an interesting lot; notable because not one of them remains in government today though their impact is felt every day. Phil Gramm, one of the most loathsome scoundrels ever to hold office, is the reprobate who brought us the Enron Loophole, disastrous tax cuts that destabilized the first part of the Reagan era, and this horrendous bill that bears his name. His darling wife, Wendy, was at the helm of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission when her husband was shepherding through the bill that would castrate the agency and lead to the collapse of Enron and the birth of energy speculation. She went on to head the conservative think-tank, Mercatus Center, which is funded by the Koch brothers.

Thomas J. Bliley, former representative from Virginia, was himself a serial deregulator. Before handing America this pile of legislative crap, he authored the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which paved the way for massive consolidation in the media industry and gave us Orwellian juggernauts like News Corp. that control the airwaves today.  Jim Leach, also no longer in office, is more of a curiosity. Brilliant, progressive and, at times, defiant, Leach of Iowa often stood in opposition to the increasingly conservative members of his party and was eventually ousted by a Democrat write-in candidate. Although Leach was a noted fiscal conservative, his true expertise was in foreign affairs. By attaching his name to one of the most destructive economic bills ever written, an otherwise brilliant career has been sullied in a way only Bill Buckner could understand.

Going Forward

So, Marcy Kaptur “gets it.” The protestors on Wall Street also “get it.” And believe it or not, many of us in the media also “get it.” If the banking system is going to collapse under its own weight and hubris because of the sheer volume of horrible investments still filtering through the economy with zero oversight, what’s the next logical play?

Apart from the obvious, which is to enact H.R. 1489, I think it’s time to grant subpoena authority to the protestors on Wall Street so they can hold those responsible for the economic crisis accountable at a people’s tribunal. Since our judicial system has failed to do that, perhaps it should be left to the people in Zuccotti Park. And just to bring things full circle to New York politics, the first star witness to be called should be Sen. Charles Schumer, poster boy for Wall Street and the senior Democratic elected representative of our state.

Time’s up, Chuck. Your silence on the Occupy Wall Street movement is deafening and incriminating.

Doth We Protest Too Little?

After interning for Morse in ’68, I served as a Philadelphia parade marshal for the half-million protesters who descended on Washington for the Peace Moratorium in 1969. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff characterized us as, “interminably vocal youngsters, strangers alike to soap and reason.”

On the very day alt-press publisher, Jed Morey, was covering “Occupy Wall Street” insurgents in lower Manhattan, I was taking a meet at a major bank nearby.  While an early morning text from Jed alerted me to the “Anonymous” event, the bank folks were alerting me to potential traffic jams engendered by the 66th convening of the UN General Assembly.  The NYPD so effectively contained and marginalized the protests that I had to wait on YouTube coverage to check it out.  Just as well.  Reminding the “99%” that they’re being had by the privileged 1% is a sharp message, but the rag-tag brigade from Liberty Square crying for attention aren’t the most effective messengers. (At Right – Mark Rudd, leading the takeover of Hamilton Hall at Columbia University in 1968)

My forbearers have long challenged authority and questioned conventional wisdom.  Back in 1954, with impending defeat of the French at the hands of the Viet Minh, my grandfather, an intelligence analyst with the U.S. Army, wrote, “It seems highly doubtful whether U.S. intervention would ever be able to hold Indochina.”  As he was born in western Sumatra, he had a better handle on Southeast Asia than most Americans and passed that understanding along to his off-spring. 

So it was in 1965, at age fifteen, I found myself at my first Vietnam rally in the old Madison Square Garden.  Among the keynoters, were famed baby doctor Benjamin Spock, Coretta Scott King and Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon, one of only two members of Congress to vote against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which Lyndon Johnson used as a blank check to escalate the conflict.  Bayard Rustin, who had organized the landmark Civil Rights march on Washington in ’63, challenged the Garden crowd of 18,000: “We must stop meeting indoors and go out into the streets.” 

A few thousand of us took up the challenge and started wending our way from 50th & 8th down through the Theatre District and over to the UN.  Filing across seedy 42nd Street in the dark of night, big, beefy red-neck types yelled, “Commies, love it or leave it!”  My 5’3” mother was accompanying me and, with a mouth that made truckers blush, dished dirtier than she got, scaring the be-Jesus out me and the red-necks too, it seemed.  It hardened me for events to come. 

After interning for Morse in ’68, I served as a Philadelphia parade marshal for the half-million protesters who descended on Washington for the Peace Moratorium in 1969.  The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff characterized us as, “interminably vocal youngsters, strangers alike to soap and reason.”  Participants were definitely hairier than earlier peaceniks, but the DC police remained chilled, in stark contrast to the Chicago police riot at the Democratic convention the year before.

The following year I moved from protest to an “environmental teach-in,” helping to organize the first Earth Week.  We drew support from across the board with some sixty corporate sponsors such as GE, Rohm&Hass, Scott Paper and Bell Tel.  At the feel-good culmination in Phillie’s Fairmont Park, Senator Ed Muskie, sponsor of the landmark Clean Air Act of 1970 delivered the keynote and the cast of “Hair” sang “Hello Carbon Monoxide.”  By the end of the year, Richard Nixon, perhaps as a tactical diversion from other deeds, created the Environmental Protection Agency.

Right now, if you go around the country,” Tom Steyer said upon receiving the 2011 Rage for Justice Award, “the fight is about the right of the Environmental Protection Agency to protect the environment.”  Rage for Justice Award is not brought to us by the Day of Rage folks who Occupied Wall Street but from Consumer Watchdog who “expose rip-offs and injustice.”  And Tom Steyer is not your usual activist, but a billionaire hedge fund manager.  He received the award in recognition of facing down the gas-producing Koch brothers and their Texas oil brethren who attempted, in 2010, with Proposition 23, to overturn AB 32 that has turned California into the beacon of the clean energy economy.

“They we’re in a situation where they [Koch bros] were going to make a bet about protecting their bottom line,” Steyer said.  “So it was always a risk/reward bet the way businesses work.  So if they started to get behind that meant that the risks were higher and the reward less likely to pursue the fight.  So that, in a funny way, it’s like being in a fight with a bully.  You know that if you can ever get him scared, he’ll quit.

 “We view the environmental fight as something where the message is really important and the messenger is really important.  We believe that if people are going to understand it, they are not only going to have to hear something true, they’re going to have hear it from someone they trust.”

In the battle against Prop 23, Steyer was aligned with former Marine captain George Schultz who held four cabinet posts under Nixon and Reagan.  In the posturing over tax misrepresentation, Obama finally invoked Warren Buffet’s year-old call to tax the very rich.  While guerilla street theater can be tippingly pointed, establishment messengers of principle will likely gain far more traction in today’s America.  Which is why this 60s organizer found himself at a big bank during the Occupation of Wall Street looking for ways to make energy efficiency pencil out.

Crowning Joules

This proposal was not unprecedented. In the depths of the Great Depression with oil going for 10¢/bbl, a group of industrial engineers proposed that currency be based on units of energy, like a joule, which is the amount of energy required to lift the weight of one Newton, i.e. a small apple, one meter.

Our new economic basis wouldn’t be gold or dollars; it would be kilowatt hours.” – Buckminster Fuller

Back when I was manufacturing novelties in 1979, the Second Oil Crisis prompted a Eureka moment.  Like the Arab Oil Embargo of ’73-’74, it created long gas lines over night.  In anticipation of a reprise, I concocted the Gas Line to give expression to people’s frustration.

This brainstorm was inspired by the tongue-in-cheekiness of the Pet Rock which was one of the top 10 toy crazes of all time.  The Gas Line was an 18” length of nylon rope tied in a noose that came in a box designed like a gas pump.  Like the Pet Rock, there was an instruction manual: “Burned up because some car just cut in front of you on the gas line?  Stick one end of the Gas Line in his gas tank, light the other end and watch him burn up.”  Thousands of Gas Lines were noosed up and ready to be hung from rearview mirrors across America when, as quickly as the ’79 gas lines appeared, they disappeared.  I wasn’t the only one stuck with inventory; the U.S. government was obliged to shred five billion unused gas rationing coupons.

Between the two oil crises of the ‘70s, the price of oil jumped from $3/bbl to nearly $40/bbl, a level that would not be exceeded, adjusted for inflation, until 2008.  Various energy remedies were engaged, from solar panels on the White House to Jimmy Carter’s cardigan sweater.  The most sweeping systemic prescription was offered by an Oregon senator:  “Set up a capability in government to budget according to flows of energy rather than money….  Energy is the currency around which we should be basing our economic forecasts, not money supply.” 

This proposal was not unprecedented.  In the depths of the Great Depression with oil going for 10¢/bbl, a group of industrial engineers proposed that currency be based on units of energy, like a joule, which is the amount of energy required to lift the weight of one Newton, i.e. a small apple, one meter.  Commodities were to be priced according to the amount of horsepower or kilowatt hours of energy expended in producing them.  Energy cards would be punched based upon the energy content of commodities purchased.  Consumption would balance production and depressions and unemployment would be avoided.  Or so the thinking went in the Era of Grand Designs.

The Federal Nonnuclear Energy Research and Development Act of 1974 called for an economy based on the “potential for net energy.”  As market pricing insufficiently internalizes externalities such as pollution, net energy analysis factors for the thermodynamic potential sequestered in materials and the energy embodied in capital.  Net energy analysis lays the groundwork for a balanced playing field by measuring, projecting and mitigating emissions from smokestacks, tailpipes and production.

Economists have not been so hot to trot with the energy theory of value.  The gloomy scientists view net energy analysis on par with the labor theory of value, Carnot and Kelvin substituting for Marx and Engels.  Most economists posit that the market price system is most suited to provide mechanisms and incentives for optimal deployment of variable inputs, including energy in its commoditized form.

Energizers would respond that while a dollar is worth more or less any given day, a unit of heat or work is the same in 1933, 1974 or 2011.  Energy is present in all processes and minimizes the ‘apples to oranges’ conundrum by juicing and weighing variables of impacts, material, and capital.  Energy equivalents for human activities such as major surgery would have to be gauged.  While piezoelectric can harvest motion in surgery to recharge an i-Pad, that is hardly compensation for the surgeon.

Cap & trade (C&T), or cap and dividend, its populist variation, are trading regimens or schemes, as the Europeans call them.  C&T is modeled on the successful mitigation of acid rain during the administration of Bush Senior. It is designed to be a market maker for the cost of carbon embodied to one degree or another in all generation and production.  Detractors of C&T say, among things, that it would become another murky trough for the giant vampire squids of Wall Street.  Thus, last year, C&T got knee-capped by the fossil fuel shills in Congress flying under the anti-tax flag. 

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a C&T program that joined ten Northeastern states.  Beginning in 2008, carbon credits auctions have financed clean energy programs like Green Jobs/Green NY.  Recently it has come under assault and been abandoned by New Jersey, other states to follow, perhaps.  The harbinger of this fallout came last fall when Koch Bros-financed Americans for Prosperity bused Tea Baggers from Jersey to lower Manhattan to protest a periodic carbon credits auction.  Given that carbon dioxide was fetching a measly $1.86 a ton, the Kochs clearly have no compunction about pulling the plug on life-support for energy efficiency.

How receptive would the Kochs and their fossil fueler cohorts be to the monetization of energy?  Fellow Libertarians like Ron Paul have been urging for decades that we bring back the gold standard.  But energy is far more fungible and, unlike gold, available in ample quantity to supplant trillions in paper currency. 

To show support for Crown Joules, how about a hangman’s noose for your rearview mirror?   I happen to have some ready to go.

Divide and Conquer: Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act

Dorian Dale, inaugural contributor to JedMorey.com, takes on everyone from the Koch Brothers to Michelle Bachmann and offers “smash mouth” war advice – from Machiavelli to Clausewitz – to the clean energy freedom fighters.

Fukushima, mon amour, is in meltdown. In the ‘Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave’, meanwhile, Americans are waging Bulb Wars.  How do you say ‘America Syndrome’ in Japanese?* The Japanese are fighting for their lives just as Americans are fake-fighting over “Freedom of Choice.”  Notorious B.I.G (Big Invasive Government) has set about to replace those good ol’ testicular, heat-reeking bulbs with the pigtailed, puny-power variety. 

Freedom of Choice is just another catch phrase for “You’re Being Had”.  Stall&bump…pocket picked.  Divert, subvert, ka-ching.  Bulb Wars is but the latest canard designed to distract, undermine and diminish you, fellow Americans. 

Among numerous provisions in the Energy independence and Security Act of 2007 was one setting standards for more efficient lighting.  Signed into law by President George W. Bush, the act also called for a gas mileage boost to 35mpg by 2020.  While Detroit couldn’t muster the muscle to blunt that upgrade, fossil fuelers in the Senate stripped out provisions that would have provided for renewable portfolio standards via elimination of $20+ billion in oil and gas subsidies.

Now the “Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act,” has been reintroduced by Rep. Michele “Minute Mom” Bachmann (R-MN) to strip incandescent provisos from the 2007 law.  What can we expect from the foxy, pitchbabe in response to Glenn Beck’s Bachmann fantasy “just you and me in the incandescent glow”? ‘Glenn, they’re gonna have to peel the incandescent bulb from my cold, dying fingers!’  

Never mind that section 321 of Public Law 110-140 does not, in fact, ban incandescent.  Ignore that the electronics industry has responded with a 30% more efficient incandescent in the meantime.  Facts get obfuscated by the fog-machines of these campaigns.  Refer all queries to the Rovian Rule: ‘Empires create their own reality.’

If playing lord and master doesn’t spin your world, what are you going to do?  Socratic reasoning falls largely on plugged ears in unreasonable times.  Maybe it’s time to equip yourself with more than moral outrage.  Consensus doesn’t cut it in a knife fight.  Wake up and smell the gunpowder.  If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  Long enough, that is, to get their playbook then beat them at their own game.  It’s a war game in which there is an enemy, an Achilles heel that succumbs to assault providing plunder for further assault.

Make no mistake about it.  War is being waged over the future of this country.  If you’re outgunned and outspent, you best outsmart.

As politics is warfare by other means, kick off with von Clausewitz.  Considering insurgency?  Recon with Kilcullen.  For mastering manipulation, Machiavelli’s your man.  To control the great unwashed, it’s    divide and conquer as practiced by the British Raj.  If you’re uneasy at the very thought of contemplating war, maybe the Zen of Sun-Tzu is for you.  

Then there is the Smash-Mouth Playbook which, in, a nutshell, is ‘three yards and a cloud of dust.’

Smash-Mouth is how the increasingly infamous and combative Koch Bros run it.  Charles and David Koch** are the twin-headed Monty Burns of the Dirty Economy.   Most recently, the Kochs bankrolled capture of the Wisconsin statehouse with and eye to killing collective bargaining and WalMarting more of middle-class America.  Plays were run to smash-mouth perfection.  

  • First, they targeted a vulnerable foil in publicly-employed teachers. 
  • Second, everyone was reminded of teacher privileges that draw double the benefits for half the work of hard-pressed taxpayers.  
  • Third, blame for all this largesse was hung on the socialistic credo of collective bargaining.  
  • In the dust-up, another union piggy bank got broken, exposing future targets to greater vulnerability. 

Hit, drive and desire. 

To review, here’s how Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust is run:

1)      Target vulnerability/ID threat. 

2)      Insert wedge/raise fear. 

3)      Hammer away/building momentum. 

Under dust-up, spread the field and grab collateral for more assault.

Even when smash-mouth does not chalk up a win, it does send an intimidating message.  Last fall, Koch strategy and money (drawn from their $45B fortune) were behind Proposition 23, designed to gut California’s iconic clean energy law.  This assault was the equivalent of the Sierra Club seeking closure of refineries in Texas.  And the Kochs don’t buy Peak Oil theory.  On the contrary, as Wikileaked Saudi cables revealed, oil&gas oligarchs are far more concerned about competitive threat to revenue streams posed by clean energy. 

Can the Kumbaya/consensus crowd countenance concepts of combat that are culturally counter-intuitive to them?  Hacktavists of Anonymous and Stuxnetting saboteurs pose stealthy, tactical promise, but who you gonna call?  Clearly, not all bad actors will succumb to Twitter revolutions.   God helps those who help themselves, fellow Americans.  For your first exercise in strategic smash-mouthing, Google “FHFA>Babylon”.  Break down FHFA, aka Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, into their constituent vulnerabilities, threat posed, means of assault and takeaway.  It you have what it takes to save our future, we’ll be in touch.

*Amerika shōkōgun

**In the spirit of full-disclosure, the reader should know that David Koch got Dale’s vote as the 1980 Libertarian candidate for vice president.

Guest Contributor Dorian Dale