Sunday, August 10, 2014

TFP Column: Climate Change Denier

(Contrary to all logic and reason, I have decided to put new material up on this blog, but only in the form of the columns that I have done for the Toledo Free Press.  This is done for the benefit of those with time to waste, who likewise do not spend their time reading the website of this award winning weekly newspaper, and I will go back and add efforts that were published earlier this year.)

This particular effort was published on 03/07/2014.

I hereby freely admit to being a climate change denier. I’ve listened to all the accounts, from the news readers to the opinions of pundits, and have read some of the limited amount of scholarly work on the subject. I find nothing in this body of work to convince me the issues involved are anywhere near settled. Further, I deny that the arguments put forward on the subject appear to have any merit.

This is not to say I disagree that the climate is changing. Instead, I’m convinced the changes occurring are little more than trends and natural movements that occur over time. Little if any of this movement appears to be man-made nor do man’s actions seem to have any significant effect on it.

Now for those of you already composing hate mail to me or to TFP Editor in Chief Michael S. Miller and canceling your free subscription, I’m talking about the political climate.

In spite of the endless stories (especially recently) regarding this notion of political climate change, little of it seems to actually be occurring. Some insist that the apparent cooling coming from the “Alphabet Fallout” cloud of the NSA and the IRS must surely prove the theory. Others are sure the “Benghazi Effect” and what it’s done to heat things up before the next election should be proof for all to see. Still others disregard these contradictory temperature claims and instead talk about the growing holes in the “Obamacare Layer” as proof that far-reaching and permanent political climate change is imminent. Nonsense!

Some even erroneously cite so-called statistical proof, using the alarming disapproval rate earned by Congress. Such claims are greatly exaggerated. While it’s true the current legislature carries a spectacularly low approval rating of 17 percent, the dirty little secret is Congress’ approval rate has seldom risen above 30 percent in the past 40 years.

Don’t get me wrong. The political tide certainly appears to be rising for the GOP, but this movement hardly seems permanent and may be a trend that ends with the 2014 election cycle (if not sooner). Part of this is because Democrats (and their media minions) seem far better at telling their story than their opponents, even when that tale is largely fiction. The rest, however, is because of the unfailing ability of the GOP leadership to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. (Can you say John McCain or Mitt Romney?)

Scholars have for years attempted to tell us that our nation is a center-right electorate. History shows us, however, that when the current group of neoconservatives in the Republican Party wins, they celebrate by apologizing to their opponents before moving in their direction, making that victory little more than a Pyrrhic one.

Instead of becoming evidence of change, such results are more likely to prove its absence. They highlight the inability of today’s political climate to show real change, regardless of who’s in charge. This entire process is reinforced by a plurality of low-information voters who seldom look beyond name recognition in choosing candidates, regardless of party affiliation or prior performance.

Available data, as determined by the length of Congressional service, tends to support this. Rep. Marcy Kaptur’s interminable 31 years in office, for example, doesn’t even rank in the top 100 on the historical “Groundhog Day” list of service in the national legislature. Michigan Rep. John Dingell currently holds the title of Congress’ “never-ending gobstopper,” but plans to retire this year after an uninterrupted 59-year tenure. Rumor has it his legacy will likely be carried on with his younger wife (a lobbyist) attempting a move from understudy to title role, and cashing in on said name recognition in her run for the open seat.

The climate of politics is not something easily influenced by the rhetoric of its participants, the heat of the issues nor the apparent coolness of the electorate to its representatives. It is perhaps far too placid (if not flaccid) to have its tides easily stirred. Those of you thinking you see a sea change coming, with a permanent rise in the depth of the Republican Party (especially that of some of its conservative elements) — think again. Wild and unproven theories may continue to exist, but real political climate change can and should be utterly denied. 

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