The other morning I was listening to Democracy Now and learned an extraordinary fact – it takes 660 gallons of water to produce a quarter pound of ground beef. Why? Because water is required to grow the feed that fattens the livestock.
660 gallons according to a documentary film called Cowspiracy.
In drought stricken California – and in many parts of the world for that matter -- beef is a food luxury we can’t afford, but because agriculture is big business in some parts of the state, and because size and money equals lobbying power in Sacramento, corporate ranchers and farmers still get their water. Short showers and drought-tolerant landscaping are necessary measures, but neither will save the amounts of water that slapping stricter controls on Big Ag would save.
That hasn’t happened yet, but it might as water agencies pushback against Governor Jerry Brown’s April 1 order mandating that they cut usage by as much as 25%.
And here I was feeling proud of myself for capturing six to eight gallons of gray water every time I do the laundry.
Let the madness begin! Now that Hillary Clinton has done what everyone assumed she would and declared herself a candidate for the presidency, let the lunatics out of the asylum. The next 500-plus days are going to be sheer misery for old-time liberals and progressives, a slow torture of misinformation and false arguments, awful TV ads filled with total lies and scripted debates designed to keep voters confused and fearful.
The GOP side is filling up with the usual field of wingnuts, the latest being Marco Rubio, who joins Rand Paul and Ted Cruz at the starting gate. If he hasn’t already, Jeb Bush will settle into the blocks next, and fat Chris Christie will follow. What a stalwart field! The GOP candidates will beat up on one another for several months to see who can move furthest to the right. This internecine battle will scare the bejesus out of GOP strategists, knowing as they do that extreme positions may sound like an aria to Tea Party faithful, but like fingernails on a chalkboard to relatively sane general election voters.
In the end, the GOP will likely get behind Jeb Bush, the family dynasty candidate, and the PR wizards will work their magic to whitewash Jeb’s connection to his Pa and dimwitted older brother. We’ll be told that Jeb is his own man, or that he is, in fact, a “self-made” man who never traded on the family name. The general election will be a contest for the center-right, with plenty of saber rattling about ISIS and Iran and Venezuela. Oh, and let’s not forget Russia.
Hillary will continue her charade to paint herself as a champion of the common people, and many voters will buy it. No one else will rise from the Democratic ranks to challenge Hillary, so her path to the nomination will be straight and relatively smooth.
Is this the best we can do in 2015? Yes, I’m afraid it is. Money drives the wheels of the system, third parties are marginalized or excluded, and the spectrum of acceptable argument is deliberately narrow. Neither party cares about the aspirations and needs of working people or what remains of the middle class.
This is democracy on life support.