He Said, He Said by Al Sikes


Political disputes are often so parochial that few follow them with any sustained interest. Perhaps that will be the fate of one that features two Talbot County Republicans, with excellent Party credentials, facing off. But, at least for now, it is reasonably topical and very instructive.

In the latest salvo the Republican Central Committee Chairman, Nicholas Panuzio, accused Talbot Spy columnist, David Montgomery, of being a RINO.

According to Wikipedia, Republican In Name Only (RINO) is a pejorative term used by conservatives to describe Republicans whose political views or actions they consider insufficiently conservative.

Now I don’t read everything David writes, but what I have read suggests that he is not insufficiently conservative. Indeed, until September of this year, he was Chairman of the Republican Council. But, lest I get caught up in somebody else’s dispute, let me close with two observations.

In my view local elections should not be contested by candidates of the two political parties. We should open up the process by having non-partisan elections. There are no Republican or Democrat views on noise or short-term rental ordinances, for example. Dividing a reasonably large population by two results in radical over-generalization. And, I believe it would be a good idea to have Independents welcomed in local governance.

Finally, partisans should keep in mind that ideological purges result in small tents and they only accommodate one ring circuses.

Climate Change Re-visited

I have expressed myself on climate change and why it is a bad idea to not treat the threat seriously. If you are interested, this is the link.

Mostly climate change projections or policy has fallen into a words and phrases battle. Politicians and their spear-carriers throw around phrases like “Medicare for all”, “gun control”, “free college for everyone”, “climate change” and the like anticipating the bases of their Parties will be animated by the underlying insinuations. Any regulation of guns, for example, becomes gun control. I wonder how often the phrase “Medicare for all” has been used as an actual starting point for a practical discussion on how it would work or be funded.

Thought fragments are sometimes followed by bullet points. Persons who are very concerned about threats attendant to climate change, for example, urge the exclusive use of renewable energy (solar and wind) and the enactment of a carbon tax. In order to get any sense of whether either approach offers consequential reduction of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, you have to get into what news people call the “weeds” (suggesting we should avoid).

Mostly politicians avoid comprehensive proposals on how to counteract a warming climate. The economics of either all-renewables energy or a carbon tax would call for sacrifice and virtually all candidates avoid attaching sacrifice to anything they propose (unless, of course, it is taxing the rich).

Enter Bill Gates. In an interview by Axios, aired by HBO, Gates said “people who are laser-focused on solving climate change with renewable energy only — chiefly wind and solar — are just as bad as those blocking action (i.e., Trump)”. To read Axios summary of the interview go here

Gates himself is investing in early stage companies that have business models organized around small nuclear power generation, carbon recapture and other technologies that would reduce carbon in the atmosphere.  

What can we do? A useful step would be to require politicians, who control the levers of power, to cease being glib (“fluent and voluble but insincere and shallow”) about such an important issue.

Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books. 

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