100 Days of Empty Seats

Trump’s boasting about non-existent crowds is a great metaphor for just about everything having to do with this President. The whole affair is a monument to the unreal. The only consistency shown by this administration is in putting forward horrible policies like climate change denial, which are also based on lies. There’s been very little of anything resembling truth in these hundred days. Even by the sad standards of truth-telling in politics, this administration is failing.

Of course, some of this may be due to genuine incompetence. Trump is not enjoying the job very much. It’s not a job known for being pleasant or for enabling a lifestyle of leisure. Well, at least it didn’t until now.¬†God only knows how else Trump will shape this office, but at least there will be plenty of seats available to witness the next hundred days.


The Eternal Emergency

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) declared a state of emergency for the state’s coast on August 18th. It mentions climate change as one of the factors causing the loss of land. There are a lot of moving parts to the order, and to the plans that exist to protect and restore the coast. This article from Futurism is an excellent read on the subject. I was pleased to see that climate change was even mentioned in the order.

Coastal erosion is an existential threat to southern Louisiana even without the specter of climate change. The original causes were created by our taming the Mississippi River and also from damage done by oil and gas exploration. As our understanding of climate change has gotten better over the past decade or so, it became apparent that the rising sea level would be a serious aggravating factor in contributing to coastal erosion.

These circumstances make it seem like climate change would be a major issue in Louisiana politics. Logically, demanding action to prevent and mitigate climate change would be an almost universal sentiment among voters. One might think that Cajun, Creole, and Native American peoples that settled in these areas threatened by the rising sea levels would act as one and constantly agitate to save their homelands.

On all counts, you’d be wrong. Climate change is barely discussed here in any political context, and rarely mentioned by mainstream media covering the area. Louisiana is a virtual petrostate, and almost all dialogue concerning our ecology is filtered through the interests of the oil and gas industry. Louisianians are not allowed to have large, candid public conversations about climate change. In order to succeed in politics here, oil and gas generally has to come first. People here are in an abusive relationship with the energy industry. They rely on it for jobs, and are protective of their interests even as the state itself disappears under the Gulf of Mexico.

There have been exceptions, of course. Environmental activism has been on the upswing to the point where the oil and gas industry here actually have felt the need to defend themselves with TV ads. The “I am Louisiana Oil and Gas” campaign started in 2015, and it’s by an outfit called the “Grow Louisiana Coalition.” It’s a creation of The Ehrhardt Group, a PR and marketing firm based in New Orleans. Ironically, New Orleans stands to lose quite a bit from further hurricanes with less and less wetland as a buffer against storm surge.

While coverage of climate change is scant in regional media, that’s even begun to change. Lafayette activist and former political candidate Mike Stagg hosts Where The Alligators Roam, a weekly radio series and podcast that regularly tackles climate change.

Slowly, climate change is becoming a slightly less taboo topic here in southern Louisiana. But for now, the easiest way to discuss it is to call it something else, or to make it a secondary issue. As sea levels continue to rise, the taboo will probably break entirely. Hopefully it won’t be too late by then.

UPDATE: This was posted by my Congressman the morning this post went up. He represents Lafayette and southwestern Louisiana. 

We have a lot left to do.

Regrets, They Have a Few

Only two percent of Trump voters regret their vote, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll. According to the same poll, Trump has a record low approval rating of 42%.

Digging a little deeper, the public overall doesn’t approve of Trump’s spending priorities, of his children being White House advisers, but overwhelmingly back him pressuring companies to keep jobs in the United States. There’s also plurality support for his level of aggressiveness with North Korea.

Despite this, “populism” according to Trump has only been in keeping his base satisfied. It’s mostly been conventional Conservative policies on overdrive, pleasing about 38% of Americans as a rough estimate. He has deferred the possibility to be a transformative leader who could cause a partisan realignment, or perhaps he’s given up on the idea entirely. The big question is still whether still he has the opportunity. Could he change quickly and convincingly enough to convince Progressives to support Progressive initiatives? So far, his policy formulations have been boring in their Conservative orthodoxy, if not still disturbing to Progressives. He has room to move, though. That bears out in this poll.

The best move for Democrats right now is to build a united machine to take back Congress in 2018. Perhaps we can make Trump change direction, and if not, we need to stand ready with a positive agenda and a great candidate to throw him out in 2020. Simply bashing Trump will probably not work in getting to 270. If only two percent of his voters regret their vote after the demonstrated incompetence and corruption of this administration at this point, I doubt the number of will go high enough by 2020 to flip the election by itself. Schadenfreude is fun for Progressives right now, but, it probably won’t be enough to win the White House. We’ll need our own story and agenda.