By John Lawrence
Finally, President Obama has found the balls to stand up to Congress.
He signed an historic agreement regarding climate change with the Chinese. He has taken executive action on immigration that will put 5 million people’s minds at ease, and he would have but didn’t need to veto the Keystone pipeline. He has also taken a stand in favor of internet neutrality.
All of this despite howls of protest from Republicans in Congress. He’s realized the futility of “cooperating” with Congress because they have done nothing but try to intimidate, bully, humiliate and badger him from Day 1 of his administration. He finally realizes that hoping to cooperate with them to “get something done” is a fool’s errand and a wild goose chase.
Instead Obama is proceeding down the road available to him by taking executive action to further his agenda without deigning to ask Congress for their approval. Hooray for him! They have done nothing but disapprove of him since he’s been in office and after awhile it becomes obvious that you don’t ask for approval from someone or someones who disapprove of you no matter what you do. He has extended his hand to them numerous times only to have it slapped down.
And this attitude of disparagement towards Obama has been amplified by the hatemonger talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and others. As far as impeachment goes, President Obama is effectively saying, “Bring it on.” Let the bloviators and naysayers and bottom feeders scrape together their articles of impeachment. Obama is not letting these guys stand in his way from accomplishing something the last two years of his administration.
Let’s consider for a minute his good work on climate change. He has put in place the first-ever carbon pollution standards for power plants in an effort to reduce the nation’s biggest source of pollution blamed for global warming – carbon emission from power plants. Almost a third of America’s carbon emissions come from electricity generation. A proposed new Environmental Protection Agency rule would reduce such emissions 30% by 2030, compared to the levels in 2005.
In the historic climate change agreement with China, the U.S. pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26 – 28% by 2025, compared with 2005 levels. In turn, China agreed to peak its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 – and sooner if possible – and to get 20% of its energy from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.
Bill McKibben of 350.org has said there are ten great things about the agreement with the Chinese. Here are five of them:
1) It is historic; for the first time a developing nation has agreed to eventually limit its emissions.
2) Renewable energy is ready to go. It just needs a push from government to surpass fossil fuels in price and efficiency. The Chinese have revolutionized the production of solar energy, driving down the cost of panels by 90% or more in the last decade. They’ll be using clean sources to get 20% of their energy by 2030.
3) Finally, world leaders are taking climate change seriously. When the two largest world economies sign an agreement, other nations will perk up and hopefully fall in line behind them. 4) Recent advances in renewables have made it less plausible to build more pipelines like Keystone or approve new fracking ventures.
4) The goals set by the US/China agreement are easy ones to meet. The Germans will be getting 60% of their energy from clean sources by the mid-2020s which represents considerably more progress than the 20% expected of the Chinese.
5) Movements work and public pressure on the climate change agendas has had great results so far, but there is much more that needs to be done.
However, this agreement is merely a first step. The International Energy Agency warned in 2012 that “almost four-fifths of the CO2 emissions allowable by 2035 [in order to keep global temperature rise below 2°C] are already locked-in by existing power plants, factories, buildings, etc. If action to reduce CO2 emissions is not taken before 2017, all the allowable CO2 emissions would be locked-in by energy infrastructure existing at that time.”
As for the Keystone pipeline, it would do nothing for American citizens. Its purpose is to transport Canadian tar sands oil, the dirtiest kind of oil, across the whole continental United States to ports in Texas where it would be shipped off to other countries. The number of jobs it would provide would be minimal and temporary.
The Rosebud Sioux have said that approval of the pipeline, which would traverse their tribal lands, would be considered an act of war, and they would fight it tooth and nail. President Cyril Scott of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe said, “Did I declare war on the Keystone XL pipeline? Hell yeah, I did. I pledge my life to stop these people from harming our children and grandchildren and way of life. They will not cross our treaty lands. We have so much to lose here.”
Naomi Klein in her new book, This Changes Everything, has placed her hope for fighting climate change in just such efforts which are happening around the world which she calls “Blockadia.”
Blockadia also stretches into multiple hot spots in Canada … For instance, in 2013 … a remarkable standoff was playing out in the province of New Brunswick , on land claimed by the Elsipogtog First Nation, a Mi’kmaq commuinity whose roots in what is now eastern Canada go back some ten thousand years. The people of Elsipogtog were leading a blockade against SWN Resources, the Canadian subsidiary of a Texas-based company, as it tried to conduct seismic testing ahead of a possible fracking operation. The land in question has not been handed over by war or treaty and Canada’s highest court has upheld the Mi’kmaq’s right to continue to access the natural resources of those lands and waters – rights the protesters say would be rendered meaningless if the territory becomes poisoned by fracking toxins.
… for months demonstrators camped near the seismic testing area, blocking roads and equipment as hand drums pounded out traditional songs. On several occasions trucks were prevented from working, and at one point a Mi’kacq woman strapped herself to a pile of seismic testing gear to prevent it from being moved.
When the Royal Canadian Mounted Police moved in and attacked the demonstrators, the rural landscape was turned into a war zone. Elders and children were attacked. Many were arrested including the Chief of the Elsipogtog Nation. Many cop cars were burned by the demonstrators. The Rosebud Sioux promise the same type of response if the Keystone pipeline is ever approved.
As for immigration, Obama is stepping out on this front as well. In his speech November 20, 2014 he outlined the steps he was taking so that five million parents of American citizen children could legally stay in the US.
That’s a lot of people. Congressional Republicans including tortoise visaged Mitch McGoonell and ale-faced John Boner were up in arms. They vowed retaliation including cutting off funding to the Department of Homeland Security, shutting down the government, blocking the confirmation of the president’s nominees and initiating impeachment proceedings against the president.
They are so upset that Obama won’t cooperate with them after proving for six years that they can not be cooperated with. He of the immobile ventriloquist dummy’s countenance said with barely his lips moving, “If President Obama acts in defiance of the people and imposes his will on the country, Congress will act.”
Good luck with that. After rubbing Obama’s nose in it for six years (remember he said it was his job to make sure Obama would fail), I hope Obama rubs his nose in it and accomplishes a lot without any input from the useless and problematic Congress. Whatever they say in their interminable bloviations is just a lot of hot air, sound and fury signifying nothing.
Obama hasn’t finally seen anything, he’s just making some grand gestures at the end of his presidency. It’s good that he’s doing these things, but he’s killing innocents in the Middle East with his drones, and helping the Israelis oppress the Palestinian People.
John Lawrence says
George W Bush destabilized the Middle East by invading Iraq. ISIS is the result. Now Obama is left trying to clean up that mess if he possibly can. To let ISIS go on its merry way is to let a bunch of ruthless killers take over a major country in the Middle East. Obama would have liked nothing better than to have his legacy be that he brought the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to an end. Now we’ll see what kind of mess happens in Afghanistan when some group like ISIS takes over there. Nobody including Obama wants to kill civilians and no civilians were killed when he captured Osama although he could have had a drone drop a bomb on his compound killing all inside including Osama’s wives and children.
So, you think Obama finally standing up to the congressional reptiles deserves cheers. I think he’s dumb dumb dumb for not acknowledging sooner what most progressives have known for at least four years. As you write, they have been after him since Day One.
Just think of what might have been accomplished if Obama had been a little more like LBJ, for an example.
And, had he found his backbone sooner, the dems may not have had such a disastrous defeat last month at the polls.
John Lawrence says
The political environment for LBJ was totally different from the political environment Obama finds himself in. In LBJ’s time Republicans didn’t openly declare that their purpose in life was to defeat him. Obama is not to blame for the intransigence of the Republicans. The Republicans are. This is ridiculous that “if only Obama had more backbone” etc. It doesn’t matter how much backbone Obama might have had. The Republicans would still have done everything they could to belittle, humiliate and defeat him.
Given that all you say here is true, still Obama earned his moniker as “the great capitulator.” He compromised so much, even before any “negotiations” with Republicans, that he made it much easier for them to excoriate him. He gave up so much over the last 5 years that these new actions simply can’t make up for it.
Add to that the complete failure of the Democratic Party to make good PR use of their successes and we have the defeat of 2014.
John Lawrence says
“he made it much easier for them to excoriate him.” Blame the victim, huh, Michael-Leonard. You remind me of the rape victim whose perpetrators said in their defense that she was wearing too sexy clothes.
Nasty analogy, Mr. Lawrence.
More like the most powerful man in the free world giving up his power to those who nip at his heels. If the president is a victim, it is of his own continued lack-of-action.
Look, I had great hopes for Obama and voted for him twice. and I don’t think I’m the only one who has been sorely disappointed by his performance — or lack thereof — in office. That is all I’m saying. So, please afford me the respect of not putting words in my mouth, thank you.
bob dorn says
Whatever the true value of Obama’s presidency may be, he has established that Republicans embrace racism, that they’re willing to defund government and believe corporations are people. The right wing of this country is now radical and not nearly conservative. That Obama has survived all that offers some indications that the Democrats as a party cannot survive if they follow his cautious, lawyerly and cosmetic
Rare endangered species survive; democracies are supposed to flourish on the collective energy of their people.
John Lawrence says
The Democrats are feeding off the corporate till just like the Republicans although to a lesser extent. The problem isn’t whether or not they are take a “cautious, lawyerly and cosmetic approach”; the problem is that money rules politics and those that can’t raise it are left out in the cold.
The Middle East has been unstable for a long time. Since Europeans colonized and drew borders based on those colonies, the people who live there have been trying to define their own borders. The mistake the west always makes is that we know what the borders should look like and who should live where. We actually had the audacity to import a bunch of Europeans after WWII and displace the people who were already living there!
It’s not our business, the people of the Mid-East have the right to self determination which gives them the right to define their own borders irregardless of how bad the United States thinks they are. ISIS has not killed up to a million Iraqis and Afghans like the US war against these countries has.
Meant to include this link of a history of borders in the Mid-East.
Sandy Long says
You tell it like I am believing, myself. I’m relieved that he is finally aggressively acting, given that Congress’ inability to get anything done set him up for being “a failing presidency” which then became the rallying cry for the Republicans in the last election. Yes, they did succeed in their stated objective “to make him fail” and didn’t count on him to start doing what it takes to get something done for the good of the country!
Penny Atkinson says
It’s an exciting prospect that there is a future for solar energy under Obama’s presidency. However, we must continue to educate and inform people about it’s importance in order to see these results. I found an interesting map which shows great potential from many American states however, many are still lacking in growth. Let me know what you think of these results
John Lawrence says
Thank you for your comment, but I could have done without the link to a commercial site as much as I love solar.
Ron Stadsklev says
A BLESSING IN DISGUISE
I jusst finished Michael Grunwld’s book The NEW new deal:the hidden story of change in the Obama’s era. He said it all. A complete list and explanation for all the changes brought about.
As I read it i begin to see how the big recession cold prove to be a great blessing in disguise. Hundreds of billions of dollars are being pumped into the economy. But if you look at the list in the attachment you will find that most of the items on the list are areas that Obama would never have been able to get funded through regular channels. But now he is able to put billions into the things that congress would never approved. If you study the list you will quickly see that many of them will set up project’s that will have far reaching effects in the years to come. Just a few examples.
China now has the world’s highest speed internet network. But we will be able to take the lead.
China now leads in wind and solar projects. But we will be able to take the lead.
Instead of job training for work that is going out of existence, we will be offering ob training for new green energy jobs of the future.
Go right down the whole list. The old saying,” every cloud has a silver limning ”
We may even be able to make enough change to save us from being the 7th extinction on planet earth. (but I think the odds of that happening are at best 50/50
John Lawrence says
I believe Obama will do everything in his power to pursue the progressive agenda in the next two years, and Congress will do everything they can to stop him. It will be a test of Congressional power vs Presidential power. My bet is that Obama will do much good in this scenario. Even the immigration measures he has taken have another dimension. The fact that they are temporary for three years means that there is a lot at stake in the next Presidential election. A Republican president will terminate them. A Democratic president will extend them and try to make them permanent. Since the Hispanic voting bloc is crucial, my bet is that they will help elect a Democratic president.
Would that it will be so.
Let’s give thanks in advance for this, eh.