I’m generally not one to focus on doom and gloom. As I tend to be a cynically sarcastic optimist (and, of course, the RPN), I can look at and appreciate the horridness of life, the idiocy of our actions, and still, occasionally, find that ray of hope and sunshine in the midst of the shit and suffering.
Let’s see if I can do it here.
First off, the demographic shift. This was the underlying game-changer in the election.
I see old people
Old people vote. And do so in a lot more numbers during the mid-terms. Old people are scared about Mexicans, Muslims, and Socialists. The media narrative pushed by many during the elections was about a national referendum on the Socialist Muslim President (who likes Mexicans) [this was The Big Lie]. You can guess how this ended up, well, you don’t have to guess, we all saw it.
Before: 256 (D) – 179 (R)
After: 18 (D) – 29 (R)
Before: 26 (D) – 24 (R)
A massive deep-sea coral die-off was discovered this week about 7 miles (11 kilometers) southwest of the source of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, scientists announced Thursday.
Large communities of several types of bottom-dwelling coral were found covered with a dark substance at depths of about 4,600 feet (1,400 meters) near the damaged Deepwater Horizon wellhead, according to a scientific team on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ship Ronald H. Brown.
“The proximity of the site to the disaster, the depth of the site, the clear evidence of recent impact, and the uniqueness of the observations all suggest that the impact we have found is linked to the exposure of this community to either oil, dispersant, extremely depleted oxygen, or some combination of these or other water-borne effects resulting from the spill,” Fisher said in a statement.
…and then found some of the longer-term effects…
Last month, Dr. Wilma Subra, a chemist and Macarthur Fellow, conducted blood tests for volatile solvents on eight people who live and work along the coast.
“All eight individuals tested had Ethylbenzene and m,p- Xylene in their blood in excess of the NHANES 95th percentile,” according to Subra’s report. “Ethylbenzene, m,p-Xylene and Hexane are volatile organic chemicals that are present in the BP Crude Oil. The blood of all three females and five males had chemicals that are found in the BP Crude Oil.”
Chuck Barnes is director of the Alabama district of the Eastern Surfing Association, and is responsible for organising surfing competitions.
“In early September our local government gave the all-clear so surfers started going back into the water,” Barnes said. “But we immediately had several surfers get sick with headaches, upper respiratory problems, and other things and that’s when I decided we needed to test the water.”
…and I bring all this up in the context of the election to remind you that Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX), the guy who infamously apologized to BP on behalf of the people of the U.S., is now going to most likely head the House Energy and Commerce Committee, like he did before.
And to add to the crap flow some more, a full 50% of the incoming Congressional class doesn’t even believe in the science…Barton now has a lot of company.
– 50% deny the existence of manmade climate change
– 86% are opposed to any climate change legislation that increases government revenue
So on that side (the environment) we’re pretty much totally screwed. We’ll go from a House that passed good legislation to deal with a major global issue (that died in the Senate) to a House that very well might hold hearings investigating “Al Gore’s global warming hoax”.
Add in some standard “Where’s mine? Screw yours!” hypocrisy and we’re almost there.
What one needs to further factor in is the huge shift in Governorships and state legislatures. We just finished a census, so now it’s time to re-draw districts. Hence the national referendum election will lead to more local craziness that continues to erode our national image, like the Arizona racial-profiling law, which many new Republican legislatures want to emulate (remember, fear of Mexicans is what many of them ran on, expec them to follow-through).
There was one interesting sidenote to the corporate sweep of the House that fell short in the Senate. Rewind real quick if you will to the State of the Union address wherein President Obama warned that a recent Supreme Court decision rolling back corporate limits on campaign contributions would be bad for our democracy. Justice Alito responded with a “not true”, and reality has responded with a “very, very freakin’ true.”
In 2008, 97% of contributions to campaigns could be tracked back to individuals. In 2010, that number dropped to 32%. In many races, huge, untraceable, outside money flooded the airwaves with attack ads. In some cases this backfired, in most it didn’t.
In cases with higher-profile nutjob candidates (i.e. all the Tea Party Senate races), all but one Sarah Palin-backed nutjob lost (O’Donnell, Angle, Miller, Whitman all losers, only Rand Paul !RAND PAUL! won, and, sad though it is to say, he’s actually an improvement over the guy he’s replacing, Jim Bunning).
This seems to prove the case that in smaller races (most house races) you can run a nut with a bunch of money and do well, but in higher profile cases where the candidate is more widely and personally known, slinging anonymous mud at one’s opponent is less successful.
Mix in this huge influx in anonymous corporate money, the tide change in demographics (from young and hopeful to old and fearful (i.e. the “Tea Party”)), and an electorate that is still largely ignorant to what caused the current crisis and how, quite frankly, phenomenal the response from the current administation has been (for reals…read this glowing assessment from none other than Warren Buffet) and you have a recipe for bad things, man.
This is Buffet’s assessment of the team that just got their ass handed to them…
When the crisis struck, I felt you would understand the role you had to play. But you’ve never been known for speed, and in a meltdown minutes matter. I worried whether the barrage of shattering surprises would disorient you. You would have to improvise solutions on the run, stretch legal boundaries and avoid slowdowns, like Congressional hearings and studies. You would also need to get turf-conscious departments to work together in mounting your counterattack. The challenge was huge, and many people thought you were not up to it.
Well, Uncle Sam, you delivered. People will second-guess your specific decisions; you can always count on that. But just as there is a fog of war, there is a fog of panic — and, overall, your actions were remarkably effective.
I don’t know precisely how you orchestrated these. But I did have a pretty good seat as events unfolded, and I would like to commend a few of your troops. In the darkest of days, Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner and Sheila Bair grasped the gravity of the situation and acted with courage and dispatch.
So we had a team doing good work in a bad situation largely replace with the team that set up the bad situation in the first place. We now have the Party of 2% holding the other 98% hostage in order to get huge tax breaks for their 2%. When the 2% run the country and the 98% are beholden to them…well…that just leads to bad things, man.
Which, BTW, is my final assessment on the 2010 election.
We’ll see how the country does when the thing that has kept us alive in the midst of catastrophe [prompt and useful government intervention] is hamstrung by the very people it saved.