Breathing Tea Party Exhaust? –Robert M. Shelby, 4-15-12. [965 txt wds]

Once again, Jim Pugh fails to come to grips with my mind and convince me. Is he, at 75 years of age, too short on energy? Or is he short on insight about communicating facts to people who lack his ideologically framed and pointed viewscape? The editors of the Benicia Herald and its Forum page see Jim’s writing as clear enough, and topics fully relevant enough, to include them in their newspaper. I genuinely want and need Jim to write more effectively for me and others. Show me truths I don’t see, not slants that look transparent.


As it stands, his writing works well only for his fellow “choir members,” that is, folks who hear and hum the same background tones and harmonies that to many of us remain inaudible. They share a semantic code, as it were, that fits messages together for them without the full articulation needed for us who live and listen outside that “choir” in another viewscape. To us, it looks like Jim goes writing along and comes to a glittering statement or phrase that just hangs in the air without clarifying connection to support it. For folks in his “choir,” assumptions already in mind do their connecting.


Let’s pull some points from Jim’s Friday feature, “EPA expands, American people lose.”


Paragraph-2 implies, “new EPA regulations [aiming to reduce climate-changing emissions] tax businesses and raise gas prices.” This assumes businesses bear increased costs that seem like indirect taxes to them. “Gas” seems to stand for carbon fuels generally. The real question is, how significant is this extra burden, really? And how much cost does it add to consumer expense at pump or meter? Added health costs of not reducing emissions must be considered. Anyone can grasp that clean air, like clean water, contributes fewer health risks. Next sentence reads: “The EPA is using the Clean Air Act as a vehicle for its new cap-and-trade regulations — or … cap-and-tax … “, seeming to suggest underhanded trickery, as if the Clean Air Act is an inefficient Hummer chugging out exhaust to obscure truth.


Paragraph-3 continues: “EPA regulations on [carbon fuel exhaust] raise [consumers’] energy cost, which trickles down to increase [most other costs.] “ Jim doesn’t tell what such increases amount to compared to other factors of price determination such as rising price per barrel of crude, or per cubic meter of natural gas, etc. The effect of new regulations (added to old ones for coal smoke) should offset some of the burden of pollution on our health care system, but Jim states late in paragraph-4 that regulations are “a house of cards,” implicitly bound to collapse.


Paragraph-5 ends: “Obama’s EPA used the Clean Air Act as a vehicle for the new regulations, which impose a tax on businesses in the guise of regulating their green-house gasses.” Oh, my goodness! Does Jim really think, or think he can convince us (1) that the EPA belongs to Obama rather than to the American people, or (2) that the Clean Air Act is a kind of juggernaut designed to sneak (or steam-roll) another tax on business rather than to fulfill its legislated goal of eliminating a lot of air pollution? Here we see Jim Pugh’s pseudo-conservative, radical mindset  supporting business at any cost.


In paragraph-7 Jim claims: “…this government is deliberately harming job-creators and working families” but he offers no foundation indicating extent of harm nor does he indicate that his real concern is a slight reduction of profit to shareholders like himself. He finishes that sentence with “– and what for? EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson admits regulation of greenhouse gases will not affect global climate conditions.” Like a slick lawyer, Pugh cuts off her testimony and gives it no context that would clarify exactly what she meant or how she meant it. Either he didn’t know, or didn’t care to show it. Jim feels no need to substantiate the deliberate intention of government to harm poor business folks rather than to help everyone in the country to breathe more safely. He feels no need because his far-rightism assumes socialist malice or ignorance on the part of Obama and the Democrats.


Paragraph-8 concludes that the EPA’s drive to regulate started with automobile exhaust which was [in fact measurably] endangering public health, and that “That finding has since been used by EPA to launch an unparalleled regulatory onslaught.” Here is the actual, conservative basis of his view: that no situation ever calls for any unusual or  novel response. We must never be required to submit to change, let the lava flow over us, let the tsunami strike and innundate us. We should just get so used to bad air and water  we don’t notice it. Let the sound of money get as loud in our politics as it will, we don’t have to listen or ever wake up from business-as-usual. We love our bad habits, and let’s be absolutely clear, EPA must never get “unheard-of-powers over regulating carbon emissions in America.” Can we really swallow so much baloney? Obama will not “fall on his sword” whether it passes in this term or not. He’ll be re-elected in 2012.


I don’t think Jim believes he can convince anyone of anything they don’t already think, because he never tries. He’s playing to his choir, but politically that amounts to nothing more than spinning one’s wheels on a sand lot or swimming  in swamp mud. He wants us to stay as blind as he is to the complex interrelation of things in a whole-system reality, the world that Liberals see, or at least dream of and try to realize, against spiteful charges of airy utopianism from the forever backward-minded, whose own  noses they imagine to be continually pressed hard against cold, coarse grind-stones.

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