23 December 2019   Leave a comment

The Pew Research Center has conducted a poll which puts numbers to a state of affairs that seems to be intuitively obvious: that there is a sharp partisan divide between Republicans and Democrats in the US. The poll covers a very large number of issues, and there is an extended section of the analysis which deals with foreign policy.

“Roughly seven-in-ten Americans (73%) say that good diplomacy is the best way to ensure peace, while 26% say that military strength is the best way to do this. By a similar margin, more Americans say the U.S. should take the interests of allies into account, even if it means making compromises, than think the U.S. should follow its own national interests when allies disagree (68% vs. 31%).

Majorities say good diplomacy is best way to ensure peace, allies’ interests should be taken into account

“There are stark partisan divides on both of these foreign policy values. Wide majorities of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents see good diplomacy as the best way to ensure peace (90%) and say the U.S. should take allies’ interests into account even if that results in compromises (83%).

“By comparison, Republicans and Republican leaners are more divided in both of these views. About half (53%) see good diplomacy as the best means of ensuring peace, while 46% think military strength will best achieve this. The GOP split is nearly identical in views of how to consider allies’ interests: 51% say allies’ interests should be taken into account even if it means making compromises, while 48% say America’s national interests should be followed even if allies strongly disagree.”

There are some strong effects of age and education on the results of the poll, with older, less-educated individuals more willing to support a US disengagement from the world (even though that same cohort believes that the US should remain the world’s dominant military power).

US President Trump made a speech to a campus group in Florida, accompanied by Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham. It was a rambling speech but one part about the Green New Deal caught my attention. It is not surprising that Mr. Trump does not favor the Green New Deal.

“We’ll have an economy based on wind.  I never understood wind.  You know, I know windmills very much.  I’ve studied it better than anybody I know.  It’s very expensive.  They’re made in China and Germany mostly — very few made here, almost none.  But they’re manufactured tremendous — if you’re into this — tremendous fumes.  Gases are spewing into the atmosphere.  You know we have a world, right?  So the world is tiny compared to the universe.  So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything.  You talk about the carbon footprint — fumes are spewing into the air.  Right?  Spewing.  Whether it’s in China, Germany, it’s going into the air.  It’s our air, their air, everything — right?

“So they make these things and then they put them up.  And if you own a house within vision of some of these monsters, your house is worth 50 percent of the price.  They’re noisy.  They kill the birds.  You want to see a bird graveyard?  You just go.  Take a look.  A bird graveyard.  Go under a windmill someday.  You’ll see more birds than you’ve ever seen ever in your life.”

The incoherence of this statement is astonishing and should cause alarm. It is obvious that Mr. Trump does not favor wind power, but even if the manufacture of wind turbines emits greenhouse gases, the level of emissions are far lower than that of a coal powered electric plant. And Mr. Trump’s preferred icon–glass skyscrapers–kill many more birds–about 600 million every year–than a wind turbine. Indeed, if Mr. Trump cares about birds, a better first step would be to enforce the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which the Department of the Interior gutted on 14 June 2018. In a letter, the Department stated: “The Solicitor’ s Opinion M – 37050 dated December 22, 2017, issued by the Principal Deputy Solicitor of the Department of the Interior, establishes that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act does not prohibit the incidental take of migratory birds. The take of birds, eggs, or nests occurring as the result of an activity, the purpose of which is not to take birds, eggs, or nests, is not prohibited by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.” In other words, you can destroy birds, eggs, and nests as long as that was not your primary objective.

Posted December 24, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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