NEWS AND OPINION:
Here is a hair-raising inquiry.
“Compared to five years ago, would you say there is a greater chance, a lesser chance, or about the same chance of a nuclear war?” The inquiry originated in a YouGov poll.
It has emerged at a pivotal time. A memo written by Air Force Gen. Mike Minihan predicting war with China was made public by NBC News just 72 hours ago. The four-star general has given Air Mobility Command wing commanders until Feb. 28 to report their “major effort to prepare” for such a conflict.
So are we now experiencing what psychologists have come to call “nuclear anxiety” — or “nucleomituphobia,” to use a more clinical term. The two phrases were products of the Cold War but reemerged in 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Here’s what the poll found: 42% of U.S. adults overall agree there is now a greater chance of a nuclear war; 48% of Republicans, 38% of independents and 41% of Democrats agree.
Another 31% overall say the chances are “about the same” as they were five years ago; 32% of Republicans, 31% of independents and 28% of Democrats agree with that.
Also. 10% overall say there is now a “lesser” chance of nuclear war when compared to five years ago. 10% of Republicans, 9% of independents and 12% of Democrats agree.
And finally, 17% overall simply “don’t know: 10% of Republicans, 22% of independents and 18% of Democrats concur.
The pollster queried respondents in 24 different demographics spanning political preferences, race, sex, ideology, age, residential locations and incomes.
Respondents who voted for former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election had the most pronounced sentiment here of all; 50% of them said there was a greater chance of nuclear war in these times. Those ages 45-64 and respondents with incomes of $100,000 a year were among the most convinced that nuclear war was in the future.
And some findings of note: 47% of both liberals and conservatives plus White people anticipate a nuclear war. Those who were least convinced of future conflict were Black people (29%) and Hispanics (35%). The poll of 1,500 U.S. adults was conducted Jan. 21-24.
SOME EXTRA DISCUSSION
“Shhh! Nobody talk about World War III. As West’s ruling class leads us closer to the brink of nuclear conflict with Russia, dissent can barely be heard,” notes the title of an analysis by Rod Dreher, senior editor for the American Conservative.
“Whatever the morality of the Ukrainians’ cause, the fact remains that Russia has nuclear weapons. Get it? Russia has nuclear weapons. We used to live in a world where that horrible fact meant something. It meant that our policymakers had to be extremely careful, as did theirs, so the entire world didn’t go up in a quick series of flashes and mushroom clouds. Apparently all of that has been pushed aside,” Mr. Dreher wrote in his analysis, which was published Friday.
JANE HAS A SAY
Longtime actress and activist Jane Fonda continues to weigh in on politics, this time through the Jane Fonda Climate PAC, a political action committee which she founded last March 16.
“The PAC is laser focused on one goal: Do what it takes to defeat fossil fuels supporters and elect climate champions at all levels of government,” Ms. Fonda said in her mission statement at the time.
She has now launched a petition to support that particular calling.
“President Biden has the authority to declare a climate emergency and act to rein in planet-warming fossil fuel pollution before it’s too late. Tell President Biden to declare a climate emergency!” the new petition advised.
“Without immediate action to transition away from fossil fuels, our planet’s future is in danger,” the public outreach said.
Curious about Ms. Fonda’s efforts? Find the updates at JanePAC.com.
Let us all consider that, as of Sunday, the national debt stood at $31,457,696,210,437. In shorthand, that would be $31.5 trillion. This is according to the Treasury’s ongoing count of this heavy, hair-raising burden.
Now let us consider that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, has an meeting of note with President Biden on Wednesday. It will take place at the White House, of course.
So what’s going on?
“We’re going to meet this Wednesday. I know the president said he didn’t want to have any discussions, but I think it’s very important that our whole government is designed to find compromise. I want to find a reasonable and a responsible way that we can lift the debt ceiling — but take control of this runaway spending,” Mr. McCarthy said Sunday on the CBS News program “Face the Nation.”
“I mean, if you look at the last four years, the Democrats have increased spending by 30%, $400 billion. We’re at 120% of Gross Domestic Product. We haven’t been in this place since World War II. So we can’t continue down this path. And I don’t think there’s anyone in America who doesn’t agree that there’s some wasteful Washington spending that we can eliminate. So, I want to sit down together, work out an agreement that we can move forward, to put us on a path to balance — at the same time, not put any of our debt in jeopardy at the same time,” Mr. McCarthy advised.
“I know his staff tries to say something different, but I think the president is going to be willing to make an agreement together,” the speaker later noted.
POLL DU JOUR
• 60% of U.S. adults think that Republicans in Congress are “likely to have more influence over the direction the nation takes in the next two years.”
• 74% of Republicans, 61% of independents and 47% of Democrats agree.
• 65% of conservatives, 62% of moderates and 52% of liberals also agree.
• 39% of U.S. adults think that President Biden is likely to have more influence over the direction the nation takes in the next two years.
• 26% of Republicans, 38% of independents and 52% of Democrats agree.
• 34% of conservatives, 38% of moderates and 48% of liberals also agree.
SOURCE: A CNN /SSRS poll of 1,004 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 19-22.
• Follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.