Face the Facts: Coal Kills

President Obama is taking long-overdue steps to limit emissions from coal power plants. Republicans say they are against such limits for economic reasons. Who’s right? Let’s look at the facts:

The coal industry and their lobbyists funnel millions into GOP campaign coffers (1,2).

Coal, the most carbon-intensive fuel, is the world’s leading source of energy-related CO2 emissions (3). Even if we ignore the long-term damage coal does to the earth’s climate, coal emissions cause health problems that lead to 13,000 U.S. deaths each year (4).

Anyone who denies the scientific consensus on man-made climate change is a liar or a fool. Scientists say, "Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal." (5)

Protecting the environment used to be and still should be a bipartisan issue. Republican Teddy Roosevelt was a founder of the conservation movement, and Richard Nixon signed the Environmental Protection Act. A handful of Republicans are trying to reverse their party’s foolishness (6).

(6) http://conservamerica.org/

The True Cost of Military Spending

If we, the people of the United States want to cut our federal budget, we need to start with military spending. We spend much, much more than any other country. In fact, the U.S. could cut our military budget in half and still spend twice what China spends and four times what Russia spends (1).

We spend too much defending (and sometimes invading) other countries. We need to spend less, bring our troops home, and mind our own business.

We should follow the advice of our country’s first great military leader and first president. In his farewell address in 1796, George Washington encouraged an isolationist policy.  Washington warned that we should not “entangle our peace and prosperity” with those of other nations because such entanglements would endanger our own liberty:  

Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. …

But, if I may even flatter myself that they (these words) may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism... (2)

Another great general-turned-president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, famously warned against the potential abuse of power by the military-industrial complex (a term he coined):

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. (3)

But Eisenhower, who had planned and overseen the Allied liberation of Europe in WWII, also warned against the cost of military spending:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. (4)

As Washington and Eisenhower foresaw, the U.S. cannot afford to be the world’s policeman.

Evangelicals Question Conservative Agenda

Finally, Evangelical Christians—sometimes called “values voters”—are coming to realize that much of the conservative Republican agenda is at odds with Christian values.

In the Christian Science Monitor, Anna Clark writes:

A recent Pew study found that 57 percent of Evangelicals feel “Government should do more to help needy Americans, even if it means going deeper into debt.”

Rising sea levels and rising frustration with the GOP’s failure to protect the environment also mean that the evangelical vote is no longer necessarily a sure thing for Republicans. According to Pew, the majority of Evangelicals now believe that “stricter environmental laws and regulations are worth the cost.” (1)

Evangelical groups are also weighing in on the immigration issue. The Christian Science Monitor reports:

Although most Americans associate theologically conservative Christians with cultural issues such as abortion and gay marriage, the evangelical political agenda is broadening. Immigration reform is one issue that has steadily gained momentum.

What might account for this change?

For one, pastors and religious leaders are talking more about the issue as a religious concern. Many scriptural passages relate to immigration – including the famous 40-year wilderness journey of the children of Israel to the Promised Land. But most evangelical churches and organizations have only recently begun to underscore the biblical connection to immigration. (2)

During the civil rights movement, Christians were a force for positive political and social change. But in recent years, instead of following Christ’s example and caring for the sick, the oppressed, and the poor, some misguided Christian groups have focused more on opposing abortion, birth control, or gay rights. This creates the perception that Christians want to control people, not help them, and it turns people away from the church.

It’s time for us Christians to stop fighting culture wars and start loving our neighbors.

Today’s GOP Makes Nixon Look Good

Today’s Congressional Republicans are successful politicians but terrible leaders. Through gerrymandered districts and well-funded campaigns, they maintain power despite holding radical views that appeal to only a minority of Americans.

The Republican party has moved so far to the right that the great Republicans of the past—Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, George Bush, Sr., and even Ronald Reagan—would be considered too moderate to satisfy the Tea Party faction who want to dismantle the government.

It wasn’t always like this. Republicans used to be for economic growth and a social safety net that helped people who truly needed it but did not encourage sloth or perpetuate dependence. Republicans used to be for government investment in science and infrastructure, for civil rights, and for protecting the environment.

Who was the last progressive Republican president? Richard Nixon. He created the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Cancer Institute, expanded Social Security and Medicare, and proposed universal health care. He was neither a liberal nor a conservative, but a pragmatist (1). He ran a crooked campaign, but as president he really tried to do what was best for the country.

The current GOP has all of Nixon’s sleazy politics, but none of his pragmatic statesmanship.

Will Wind Energy Be Killed by Dirty Money?

In the budget negotiations, conservative Republicans are fighting against letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire. These politicians claim this is a principled stand. They claim letting a tax cut expire on schedule would break their pledge never to raise taxes.

Why then are many Republicans in Congress willing to let the Wind Energy Production Tax Credit expire? This tax credit gives support to a growing industry and creates American jobs. Isn’t this how Reagan’s supply-side economics is supposed to work? Why is there no passionate fight by Reagan’s ideological heirs to save this tax cut?

The answer is money—dirty money. The coal industry donates more than $13 million to political candidates and PACs each year, and more than 70% goes to Republicans (1).

Wind energy is clean. Coal is dirty. Politicians who sell out their principles for money are filthy.

Stop the GOP Obstructionism!

From 2009 to 2012, Republicans opposed every attempt by President Obama to stimulate the economy or create jobs—some analysts say the GOP may have deliberately sabotaged the economy in hopes of grabbing power (1). Senator Mitch McConnell clearly stated the GOP’s priorities: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

The Republican strategy of obstruction worked in the 2010 elections because the Republicans were able to mobilize their conservative base, while liberals, frustrated by Obama’s moderate stances on some issues and his compromises on others, stayed home. But in 2012 Republicans made the election a referendum on Obama’s policies, and moderate voters spoke loud and clear: We’re sick of GOP obstructionism. Obama was re-elected, and Republicans lost seats in both houses of Congress.

But did Republicans get the message? More importantly, do they care? The GOP could decide to let the economy crash if they think it will give them an advantage in the 2014 and 2016 elections.

The current batch of Republicans have shown that they care more about winning elections than the public good. If your representative or senators are Republicans, please take the time to call or e-mail them and tell them it’s time to stop the obstructionism and start compromising. Click here for their contact information.


America Needs Wind Energy

America needs an energy policy that encourages domestic oil and gas production for the present and supports clean energy technology for our future.

The Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit currently gives tax breaks to producers of clean energy, such as wind farms. Developing our wind potential will create hundreds of thousands of jobs for American workers (1,2).

But unless the Production Tax Credit for the wind industry will expire at the end of this year unless Congress takes action. I hope you will write or call your congressional representative today and urge him or her to extend the wind tax credit.

If your congressional representatives are Republicans, urge them to join ConservAmerica, an organization that works toward conservative solutions to environmental challenges (3).  

Wind energy provides jobs and energy for the present and a cleaner planet for the future. Let’s urge Democrats and Republicans to work together on this issue.