This piece on energy technology from Eduardo Porter at the New York Times is disappointing. Porter lays out a criticism of a particular paper on clean energy that is, according to critics, too unrealistic in its predictions concerning our ability to power the US completely on renewable energy resources. He uses this one paper and a recent response to it to mount a much broader criticism of renewable resources, all while claiming that he is simply trying to have a conversation about energy that is practical and realistic.
I read a tweet the other day that said something like, “Increasingly, Western democracy is based on the idea of having a right to work, not a right to live.” And this seems accurate overall. But what sounds a bit weird to me is the inclusion of the qualifier “increasingly.” The state of affairs this person describes has always been the case.
This essay originally appeared in Unwinnable Monthly Issue 82 (August 2016).
In Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy crafts a fictionalized account of the campaigns of the non-fictional Glanton gang, a group of bounty hunters tasked with the slaughter of indigenous Americans throughout northwestern Mexico and the southwestern United States between 1849 and 1850, in the months following the end of the Mexican-American War. The governor of the state of Chihuahua enlists John Joel Glanton and a few dozen other men (mostly Americans) to eliminate Apache Indians living in the region. Compensation for the Glanton gang’s services comes only upon the presentation of the scalps of those killed. Glanton and his men soon begin murdering other Native American peoples and Mexican citizens, initially scalping the dead to provide false evidence for increased profits. Eventually, they drop even this reprehensible pretense, as the gang raids and plunders settlements throughout the region in a sustained massacre. There are almost no survivors; they leave no children orphaned.
One consistent modern political narrative, at least in the US, is that of the inevitable leftward trend of society. In this narrative, social liberalism in particular is a certainty, and it’s just a matter of time before current progressive causes become mainstream politics. This Atlantic essay from earlier in the year, titled “Why America is Moving Left,” is a notable example of this idea in action. It’s long and aims to be a pretty comprehensive reflection on the current and potential future state of American politics, and, as such, it also stands out to me as a notable example of what I think this narrative misses about American political realities.
On August 11, 2011, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney talked budget concerns with a small crowd at the Iowa State Fair. It was probably a more lively exchange than he’d anticipated, with some in attendance shouting in disapproval as he stated his unwillingness to raise taxes on corporations. In response to one of those dissenting voices, Romney remarked, “Corporations are people, my friend.” It’d be another 8 months until the RNC declared Romney the presumptive nominee and over a year until the general election, but the comment would help frame the public perception of his entire campaign.