Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for May 11th, 2011

Why Do Our Legi$lator$ Favor Dirty Energy? Ca$h. Lot$.

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 11, 2011

Earlier this week, I briefly touched on how in hock our elected representatives are to Big Oil, Big Coal and Big Gas — a fact that is keeping America from fully implementing a clean-energy future.

Over at Renewable Energy World, Tor Valenza has some data on just how much dough the dirty-energy crowd tosses at politicians: “How can you tell? Easy. Go to and find out how much $$$ your own representative or senators are $upported by oil and coal companies.”

To no one’s surprise, prominent Republicans like Paul Ryan, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell turn out to have got a lot of money from the dirty-energy lobby, and are quite friendly to dirty energy as well as quite hostile to clean energy. But what is a pleasant surprise, is that Henry Waxman, a Democratic congressman from California, gets nearly as much as Boehner et al do, yet manages to be a very good friend to solar energy. As the late great Texas Democratic House Speaker Sam Rayburn once told a freshman congressman who wanted to be excused from vote because he wanted to please his biggest contributors: “Son, if you can’t take their money, drink their whiskey, screw their women, and then vote against ’em, you don’t deserve to be here.”

(Crossposted to Renaissance Post.)

Posted in solar, wind power | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Why Do Our Legi$lator$ Favor Dirty Energy? Ca$h. Lot$.

Honduran dictatorship, day 490

Posted by Charles II on May 11, 2011

No comment required. Hillary-ous:

Now, in Honduras we have seen how effective that kind of common approach [institutionalizing democracy and preserving and protecting fundamental freedoms] can be. And now that the obstacles to former President Zelaya’s return to Honduras have been removed, I am confident that we will soon welcome Honduras back as a full member of the inter-American system. That is a step that is long overdue.

I’ll outsource the rebuttal to RAJ, who says it at much greater length and detail than my preferred four-letter reply would allow for.

Posted in Honduras, Latin America | 2 Comments »

Domino theory, Far East Asia edition

Posted by Charles II on May 11, 2011

One of the themes that I have focused on is evidence for the decline of American power seen in shifting alliances. The decision of Brazil to support Honduran president Manuel Zelaya against the cynical game played by Washington, for example, marked the emergence of an independent pole of power in a multilateral world no longer dominated by the US and USSR.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s what American leaders apparently set out to accomplish at the end of World War II. American power, classically, is based on commercial domination, not forcing nations to follow our every directive. In that model, we get our way because people want to emulate us. Oh, and by the way, if they are actively against us, they can expect to have terrible economic growth.

Now another domino could be falling, and in an unexpected place. Sunny Lee writes in ATimes:

Discussions on maintaining the US-South Korean alliance in Seoul this week became heated when Chang Dal-joong, professor at Seoul National University said that South Korean public sentiment “is divided as to whether we should team up with the US or China”.

Chang was speaking at a forum hosted by South Korean daily JoongAng Ilbo and US think-tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies. It featured heavyweights such as Richard Armitage, former US deputy secretary of state under president George W Bush and included a visit to the presidential Blue House to meet with Lee Myung-bak and his national security advisors.

Though it was shocking for US officials, Chang actually raised a common topic in South Korea: how China’s rise could increasingly reconfigure Seoul’s traditionally staunch alliance relationship with Washington.

“South Korea is at a crossroads,” said Yang Xiyu, former director of Office for Korean Peninsula Issues at the Chinese foreign ministry. “…The conclusion of the debate will not only decide South Korea’s future fate, but it will also produce a profound impact on the political landscape in East Asia, which also includes China and Japan.”

The Korean Peninsula is a strategic venue where China and Washington compete for leadership.

Lee’s article is not entirely clear on where the impulse for re-alignment is coming from. Trade is a factor, as is fear that South Korea could be drawn into conflict over Taiwan. One can add that Korean politics, where the right tends to be slavishly pro-US, and the left reflexively opposed to whatever the right is in favor of, contributes to the tendency.

Now, South Korea is not simply an extraordinary economy–the 17th largest–that has started to produce some of the best electronics in the world. It is culturally and economically dominated by Japan. If it is planning to re-align, that means that Japan may also be considering re-negotiating its relationship with China.

This is surprising and disturbing. While China has not in recent times been militarily expansionist, it has a long history of cultural colonialism and, indeed, was militarily ambitious before it lapsed into decline under colonial rule. Just ask Tibet, Vietnam, and Korea about China’s Humble Neighbor policy. For those with very long memories, China even tried to invade Japan.

Now, China has many strengths as a leader. It has a tradition of respecting education that makes it a more rational world leader than the US tends to be. Whereas the US has lost its sense of direction, with wealthy elites turning to looting the country rather than caring for its citizens, China seems to have a sense of the historical moment. It is taking surprising steps to create a sustainable economy. And it is impossible to defend US hegemony, when the US behaves completely irresponsibly, invading countries like Iraq illegally, backing coups against elected leaders like Manuel Zelaya, refusing to address global warming, and generally treating the rest of the world (not to mention its own citizens) with contempt.

But China is not, in my view, a stable country. It, too, has deep problems of corruption. Worse, it has no tradition of democracy, with the consequence that there are deep grievances under the surface. And it is, in Animal Farm form, proving that neither capitalism nor communism are immune to the abuses consequent on the concentration of power. As Orwell put it,

“The source of the trouble appeared to be that Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington had each played an ace of spades simultaneously. Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

As an American, I want other countries to be independent, if only to prevent hubris from destroying my native land, as it has under right-wing rule. But some countries will dominate regions. Asia is better served by a balance between the power or China, Russia, India, and the US than by the domination of any single one of them.

Posted in China, Japan | 2 Comments »

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