God, Guns, and Gas Stoves

La Cornue Grand Palais, Lützerath, Cop City, Trumka Trumka


While it doesn’t quite have the white-supremacist overtones of last October’s House GOP “Kanye. Elon. Trump.” tweet, Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-Ohio) recent tweet of “God. Guns. Gas stoves.” is an instructively accurate summary of the Republican agenda.

In 2006’s American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century, Kevin Phillips described how the Republican Party had become the coalition of radical Christianity (God) and petro-imperialism (Guns & Gas). He posited that previous empires, like the Spanish, Dutch and the British, were fueled and then undone by the political power of energy industries (such as coal for the British Empire) and the weight of their militaries.1 At the time of writing, the culmination was the Bush-Cheney administration and its misadventures with the Iraq War, climate denial, and financial deregulation, wrapped in Karl Rove’s popularist culture-war political strategy.

Now we’ve reached 2023, and the Republican Party is committed to keeping the godless government from seizing our guns and our gas stoves.2 I assume you’re aware of the partisan and geopolitical dynamics of our battles over religion and firearms, so let’s talk La Cornue Grand Palais!

Last month, Richard Trumka Jr., the son of the recently-passed scourge of robber barons Rich Trumka, argued that the Consumer Product Safety Commission on which he serves should develop new safety regulations for gas stoves, possibly banning them, because they are catastrophic health and safety hazards, particularly for children.3 Although these dangers have been long known within the public health community, and news stories have popped up over the years, decades of industry propaganda kept public awareness low. Rebecca Leber’s Mother Jones magnum opus in 2021, “How the Fossil Fuel Industry Convinced Americans to Love Gas Stoves,” was a recent game-changer.

In October, Trumka got the commission to launch a request for public input on hazards associated with gas stoves. The news didn’t break through until Bloomberg’s Ari Natter published an interview with Trumka floating a ban on January 9th.

Then the rightwingosphere exploded like a gas stove,4 in part because they’re eager to shift the political narrative away from insurrectionist loons derailing the speaker vote for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

But their focus on gas stoves is also driven by the understanding that the conflict between the fossil-fuel industry and American democracy is existential. It is a gross mistake for politicians and commentators on the left to dismiss this narrative as a ridiculous sideshow. Emily Atkin explains better than I could, but I’ll try anyway.

I’ve said this before, but a key text to understanding this ideological conflict is White Skin, Black Fuel: On the Danger of Fossil Fascism, by Andreas Malm and the Zetkin Collective. It is not a coincidental irony that Republicans are clamoring to defend a product that literally poisons children—as Malm writes, “the far right is in thrall to the death drive.” The eco-fascist embrace of death and destruction eliminates the challenge of avoiding it; it defends the masculinity of violence and the morality of oppression. From the Washington Post’s Karen Heller:

[Kitchen designer Joanne] Hudson says the love for big, metallic fortresses of fire “is male-driven. They look like locomotives.” Consider the names: Viking, Wolf.

I’m not gaslighting you,” Alexandra Petri writes. “Listen, I am the best kind of stove. Don’t worry about me. Worry that they will come and take me from you, if you aren’t careful.”

FOREST FIGHTS: This fight is simultaneously absurd and deadly. Thousands of protesters have gathered for months to protect the remote German forest hamlet of Lützerath from being turned into an open-pit, low-grade coal mine, after German leaders, including the Green Party, authorized RWE’s expansion of the mine. Greta Thunberg joined the protesters last week as police moved in. Cartoonish yet menacing, police forces drove her and other activists off the site. Over 150 protesters were injured, many severely.

Not to worry, fellow American patriots—militarized police in the U.S.A. did one even better, shooting and killing a protester yesterday morning as they cleared out a forest encampment on the outskirts of Atlanta. Atlanta cops are planning to raze much of the South River Forest, called the Weelaunee by the Muscogee Creek people who were forcibly removed in the 19th century, for a $90 million training facility and shooting range that has been dubbed Cop City. Activists have occupied the site since 2021 to prevent construction. Police claim the Georgia State Patrol officers who killed the protester were shot at first, but no body camera footage has been released. Not that cops would lie.

Civilization at the precipice.

Jack Conness has built a wildly useful site keeping track of clean-energy manufacturing investments backed by the Inflation Reduction Act—$47 billion and counting.

Jigar Shah, the director of the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office, announced on Friday the office’s first loan commitment for a lithium processing plant, backing Ioneer Rhyolite Ridge’s mining operation in southwest Nevada with $700 million; yesterday the company was hit with a trespassing notice for damaging the habitat of a highly endangered flower. The 16,000 remaining plants of Tiehm’s buckwheat live only on and around the site of the planned mine. Gotta power those Hummer EVs somehow, though.

While House GOP are very slowly allowing committees to be set up, they’re not wasting time getting to acts of performative petro-imperialism that pull in:

A Republican-led bill restricting oil reserve sales to China gained wide support from Democrats on Thursday, signaling a bipartisan energy security agenda that House Republicans could take advantage of going forward. The chamber voted 331-97 for H.R. 22, from Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), to prohibit the sale of any oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to China or Chinese-influenced subsidiaries.

The House green-tech caucus, the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, elected its leadership for the new session last week; longtime co-chair Rep. Gerry Connelly (D-Va.) is now an emeritus, and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) joins returning co-chairs Reps. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.).

Seriously, Richard Trumka Sr. was amazing.

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1 Alan Lichtman’s White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement, written in 2009, can be considered an equivalently productive exegesis of the “Kanye. Elon. Trump.” tweet.

2 Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) of course leapt to defend gas stoves as well.

3 There’s also the small matter that we have long passed the time when we should have phased out methane gas because it’s a wildly powerful climate pollutant. Also it’s just as deadly to live near a fracking well. I could go on.

4 The Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) team is working hard to position him for the 2024 GOP presidential primary, undeterred by 92% of Florida households having electric stoves.

Team DeSantis is hawking aprons and floating tax-free gas stoves (because “no taxes” is part of the right-wing word cloud). They understand the game.

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