What Obama says about gun law doesn’t matter — Republicans are owned by the Gun Lobby

Never forget Sandy Hook

The modest gun control policy changes announced in a passionate speech by President Obama on Tuesday are not of great substantive importance. But they reveal important truths about the state of American politics. The disproportionate Republican opposition to the president’s minor executive actions on gun control isn’t just about the party’s opposition to any and all efforts to stem the tide of gun violence. Their reflexive opposition also reflects their refusal to cede any legitimate authority to the president.

After all, the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination didn’t even know what executive actions – if any – Barack Obama would take on gun control after his Monday meeting with the attorney general, Loretta Lynch. That didn’t stop them, because they knew that they would oppose whatever actions Obama planned to take.

…They do reflect two major trends in Republican thought: reflexive opposition to taking any measures to stop America’s epidemic of gun violence; and claims that standard presidential actions represent some kind of threat to American constitutional order…

Obama proposed an executive order interpreting the scope of federal background checks more broadly, applying background checks to those who purchase firearms through a trust or corporation and requesting the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security conduct research into gun safety…

He proposed nothing that isn’t already supported by an overwhelming majority of the American population. It’s almost a shame to describe his actions as “leadership” when the public at large is years ahead of the White House. And we are light-years ahead of the Republican Party, the NRA, the broad range of cowards and cash register opportunists in Congress.

Poisonally, I hope this becomes one of those single-issues that takes on a life of its own in the November elections. Cynical as I often am, I believe this is a cut-and-dried issue for the American public and will guarantee defeat for any politician trembling in a puddle of his own piss — afraid of the NRA.

RTFA for a description of the wimpery mustered by the reactionary gene pool.

California natgas utility sets new record for atmospheric crud leading to climate change

SoCalGas drilling a relief well – which may help in a couple of months!

The single biggest contributor to climate change in California is a blown-out natural gas well more than 8,700ft underground…

The broken well at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage site has released more than 77,000 metric tons of the powerful climate pollutant methane since the rupture was first detected on 23 October, according to a counter created by the Environmental Defense Fund…

Experts believe the breach, which has forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents from the town of Porter Ranch, is the largest ever in the US…

Methane is a fast-acting climate pollutant – more than 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame…

The leak is unlikely to be brought under control before late February – and even that timetable depends on work crews’ success in locating and plugging a 7-inch pipe deep underground…

David Clegern, a spokesman for the Environmental Defense Fund, said the well remained a major source of climate pollution. “It is in California at this point the single largest source point of global warming…”

He also said it was to his knowledge the biggest such natural gas leak ever

RTFA for all the gory details. The company says they’re in compliance with state regulations. I doubt the state permits crappy construction and blowouts as acceptable.

The lives of local residents are at risk. The quality of life for residents of the region – if not more – is screwed by slipshod work from a regulated utility that only considers the profits side of the corporate balance sheet important. Like most public utilities.

The Fascism of the Affluent – by Joschka Fischer

There is an alarming political shift to the right occurring on both sides of the Atlantic, linked to the growing force of openly chauvinist political parties and figures: Donald Trump in the United States, Marine Le Pen in France. Other names could be added to the list: Hungary’s prime minister, Victor Orbán, who advocates “illiberal democracy,” or Jarosław Kaczyński and his quasi-authoritarian Law and Justice party, which now rules Poland.

Nationalistic, xenophobic political parties had been on the rise in many European Union member states long before Syrian refugees first arrived in appreciable numbers. There has been Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, the Vlaams Blok (succeeded by today’s Vlaams Belang) in Belgium, the Freedom Party of Austria, the Sweden Democrats, the Finns Party, and the Danish People’s Party, to name just a few.

The reasons for such parties’ rise and success vary greatly at the national level. But their basic positions are similar. All of them are raging against the “system,” the “political establishment,” and the EU. Worse, they are not just xenophobic (and, in particular, Islamophobic); they also more or less unashamedly embrace an ethnic definition of the nation. The political community is not a product of its citizens’ commitment to a common constitutional and legal order; instead, as in the 1930s, membership in the nation is derived from common descent and religion…

First and foremost, there is fear – and apparently a great deal of it. It is a fear based on the instinctive realization that the “White Man’s World” – a lived reality assumed by its beneficiaries as a matter of course – is in terminal decline, both globally and in the societies of the West. And migration is the issue that brings that prognosis home (not just metaphorically) to today’s angst-inspired nationalists.

RTFA. Much of Fischer’s article applies equally well to the United States. Xenophobia with the added extremism of an economic and political devotion to racism unmatched outside apartheid nations.