Change Alley

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The Dis-United States

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Jericho flag

The second series of Jericho is scheduled to premiere on CBS on February 12th. The post-apocalyptic drama follows the progress of a small Kansas town as it struggles to come to terms with the destruction of 22 major US cities. Series 1 ended on a cliff-hanger with the people of Jericho defending themselves against an invasion by superior forces from the neighbouring town of New Bern. Series 2 picks up the story, as the battle is brought to a halt by the intervention of troops from the Allied States of America, a regional grouping of former western US states rising out of the chaos, one of several coalitions all claiming to be the legitimate government.

Just after Jericho began, I wondered whether it could be seen as an allegory of America’s geopolitical imagination; for the town, read the USA, hemmed in by terrorism and uncertainty; for the rest of the world, read, well, the rest of the world. Or look at it another way: is the post-attack world of resource shortages a parable for an imminent Peak Oil world?
“Jericho Deconstructed”
Things have moved on quite a bit in 18 months, in Jericho and in reality. It’s much harder to pull off a convincing portrayal of a united America. The wider world into which the folk of Jericho are being integrated, an America of competing factions and regional warlords, is a disturbing one. But is it so fanciful to see in it echoes of the America of George Bush’s final year? Perhaps we don’t need nuclear terrorism and millions of deaths to bring about the disintegration of the ‘United’ States.

Today, California and 15 other states have filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn Washington’s refusal to allow California’s request to implement stricter controls on motor vehicle emissions. Under the federal Clean Air Act, California is allowed to enact stricter air pollution laws than the federal government as long as the state is given a waiver from the EPA. Waivers have been routinely granted in roughly 50 cases during the last three decades, allowing the state to lead the way in catalytic converters, unleaded gasoline and other areas. Strangely, this refusal came on the same day that President Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act, which features much less stringent emissions standards.
LA Times: “California sues government for rejecting bid to curb emissions”

The argument about whether this was a political decision or a scientific one continues to rage, and may well lead to a permanently weaker central government in Washington. Meanwhile, the Lakota Nation is voting with its feet, having declared its independence and renounced the 33 treaties that they claim have never been honoured by the United States. Will they be the first of many?
“Lakota withdraw from treaties, declare independence from U.S.”


3 Responses

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  1. It’s ironic that a Federal agency that exists exclusively to protect the environment is blocking such progress.

    Car-manufacturers from other countries have been cleaning up their act for years by sticking to stricter standards. It CAN be done. Bush is simply appeasing the big bosses of the US auto-industry.

    Very frustrating but methinks the people will win this one.


    January 5, 2008 at 11:35 am

  2. What annoys me greatly about this is the cynical attitude of the Bush administration. Califoria applied to the EPA for a waiver in April 2007, and were on the verge of suing them for a response. The timing of the refusal was deliberate, to tie in with the launch of the Energy Independence and Security Act. It had nothing to do with what was best for the environment, and everything to do with re-asserting Washington’s authority over the States and with Bush’s presidential legacy. Rumours are flying that the EPA’s own advisors were over-ruled by direct order of VP Cheney.
    It would be funny if it wasn’t tragic. For years the Bush adminstration has dragged its feet on environmental issues, using the success of individual State initiatives to justify national inaction. Now California is told that going it alone and creating a ‘patchwork’ of regional legislation would only dilute and impede a unified national program.
    The stuff about the US disintegration was tongue in cheek, but I do think the trend towards regional alliances will accelerate, bypassing Washington. For example, the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the Northeast and an agreement among West Coast governors. About 48% of the U.S. population is now represented in some form of regional GHG reduction program.

    Pete Smith

    January 5, 2008 at 1:29 pm

  3. Yes, I’ve been reading up on it bit more and the Bush administration, via the EPA, has totally disregarded both the law and the science.

    You’re right Pete. It’s a power thing as much as anything else.

    And you make a valid point about regions desiring to break free from central government. If the fed gov is reneging on its agreements and continually goes against the will of the people, then why should individual states wish to remain beholden to these bad habits of changing goalposts and double standards etc.?

    And good luck to the people of the Lakota Nation.


    January 5, 2008 at 2:46 pm

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