Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Countdown: Zero Minus Three & Counting ... Olbermann, the SOTU, Tunisia, Egypt & the End of Civilization

John William Waterhouse, Miranda & the Tempest (1916)

Countdown: Zero Minus Three and Counting ... Olbermann, the SOTU, Tunisia, Egypt and the End of Civilization

By Richard Power

Love is the answer to the amorphous mass of crises overtaking us. Love of the world, love of each other, love of ourselves, love of highest principles, love of adversary. Lovelessness is at the source of all our problems; lovelessness will doom any proposed solutions.

Tragically, power in this world, and in USA, is increasingly concentrated in a very few minds, and the agendas those minds dictate have almost nothing to do with such altruistic love.

So what to do? Understand that resilience is love, and courage is love. Understand that struggle can be loving.

Countdown: Zero Minus Three & Counting ...

This is the third weekday night since Keith Olbermann was "resigned" from MSNBC.

Those who want to comfort themselves by saying that Comcast isn't going to mess with MSNBC's progressive line-up, because it is successful, should ask themselves why MSNBC's flagship talent was allowed to walk away with two years left on his contract. Once the ratings slip, the Comcast team can start to dabble with the line-up, and before the 2012 campaign turns white hot they may have done their worst to it.

Rachel Maddow is brilliant and doing extraordinary TV journalism. But she is cool and cerebral. Olbermann was hot, and hit hard. He was our outside linebacker. His "Special Comments" were illusion-shatterers. Ed Schultz is a powerful voice for working people; he has the passion, but not the eloquence needed for those "Special Comments."

Lawrence O'Donnell? I'm sorry, but no. He is an insider. The Obama White House won't have any problems with him. He stays inside the frame. Olbermann was a frame-smasher.

Meanwhile, Bill O'Reilly who coined the slur, "Dr. Tiller the Baby Killer," and had no remorse at all after Tiller was assassinated attending church, is still on the air.

Glenn Beck too is still on the air; Beck, whose ravings targeted the Tides Foundation, where Byron Williams was headed when he got into his shoot-out with CHIP, Beck who is now fixated on Francis Fox Pivens, a 78-year-old political science professor CCNY.

Why is Glenn Beck endangering the life of an elderly Jewish woman on prime time TV?

And where is the FCC? Drunk at the Comcast/NBC merger party, dressed in a faux "Net Neutrality" costume.

No, my friends, whatever the back story is, however it is spun, Olbermann's exit from prime time cable news (and his enforced absence for some time to come) is a bad sign.

The indefatigable Robert Parry elaborates.

The ongoing significance of America’s media imbalance is that it gives the Right enormous capabilities to control the national debate, not only during election campaigns but year-round. Republicans can deploy what intelligence operatives call “agit-propaganda,” stirring controversies that rile up the public and redound to the GOP’s advantage ... Like Clinton before him, Obama has reacted to this political/media landscape by shifting rightward toward the “center,” further alienating his liberal base. Many on the Left respond by denouncing Obama as a sell-out and deciding to either sit out elections or vote for a third party. This dynamic has been instrumental to the Right’s political victories over the past three decades even as those policies – from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush – have worsened the lives of middle- and working-class Americans. The sudden disappearance of Keith Olbermann from television is another ominous omen that this dynamic will continue. Robert Parry, Consortium News, 1-22-11

Tunisia, Egypt ...

We got on the wrong side of history in the Middle East, not only because we failed to be a fair broker for the Palestinians, not to mention our foolish military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also because we have armed and underwritten tyrants throughout the region; and we have probably forfeited the region's future to those who will likely subvert the righteous uprising of the oppressed.

Remember, decades ago, the Iranians overthrew a tyrant only to supplant him with a hateful, theocratic thugocracy, and yes, they call it a democratic republic.

I keep hoping Robert Fisk, our greatest Middle East correspondent, will be proven wrong someday, but it hasn't happened yet.

It is not possible any more, for the people of the Arab world to lie to each other. The lies are finished. The words of their leaders - which are, unfortunately, our own words - have finished. It is we who have led them into this demise. It is we who have told them these lies. And we cannot recreate them any more.
In Egypt, we British loved democracy. We encouraged democracy in Egypt - until the Egyptians decided that they wanted an end to the monarchy. Then we put them in prison. Then we wanted more democracy. It was the same old story. Just as we wanted Palestinians to enjoy democracy, providing they voted for the right people, we wanted the Egyptians to love our democratic life. Now, in Lebanon, it appears that Lebanese "democracy" must take its place. And we don't like it.
Robert Fisk, Independent, 1-26-11

What the 2011 SOTU has to Do the End of Human Civilization

So now we have two SOTU responses from the Cult formerly known as the Republican Party carried on corporatist air waves? First, Infotainmentstan actively participated in the launch of the "Tea Party" canard, now it is actively participating in the institutionalization of the boondoggle. (Only CNN broadcast Bachmann live, but all of Infotainmenstan has given her significant coverage.) We never had a Progressive Caucus SOTU response carried over the airwaves following the official Democratic Party response during the Bush-Cheney era. Nor will there be one if Romney or Pawlenty, or whoever, snuffs out the last candle in 2012.

Much ado was made about the effort to "break down the partisan divide" by having members from both parties sit with each other during the SOTU. This symbolic gesture is so trite and so meaningless that it is best characterized using a hackneyed metaphor: indeed, it is nothing more than re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

No, I am not going to take apart POTUS' SOTU itself. He is who he is. (See A Progressive Strategy for 2011-2012 that Does Not Require Capitulation or Self-Destruction?)

Unfortunately, everything you need to know about the 2011 SOTU could be gleaned with the mute button on: there was John Boehner, sitting in the Speaker's Chair. Nothing good is going to come of this Congress, nothing. And in truth, it wasn't the SCOTUS Citizens United decision that put Boehner in that chair, it wasn't POTUS' sell-out on the Public Option that put him there, it was the US electorate. If you didn't vote against the Cult formerly known as the Republican Party, you voted for them.

The Republican Party's triumph in the 2010 congressional elections, coupled with the rapid depletion of the earth's natural resources, signaled the impending collapse of human civilization, according to a world-renowned scholar known for his left-wing politics. “You could almost interpret [the election] as a kind of a death knell for the species," Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a recent interview. But he's not the only one worried; the US business press is, too. Raw Story, 1-22-11

Do you understand the import of this story? This is not a partisan political operative, this is Noam Chomsky. This is not about right vs. left, it is about reason vs. madness.

Do you know why 350 is the most important number in your life and the lives of everyone you love? Go to for the answer.

On Anniversary of Citizens United Ruling, Common Cause Calls on Justice Dept. to Investigate Scalia and Thomas over Conflicts of Interest

Papantonio: Supreme Court Stooges

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin Moves to Create Single-Payer Healthcare System

Richard Power's seventh book, Between Shadow and Night: The Singularity in Anticipation of Itself, is now available. Here are links to purchase it from, or from CreateSpace.

You can also visit Richard Power author's page at

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Beseiged by an UnWell UnRegulated Militia; Homage to the Fallen, & An Exhortation to Love

Unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1964

"The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans." Robert F. Kennedy, 1968

Beseiged by an UnWell UnRegulated Militia; Homage to the Fallen & an Exhortation to Love

By Richard Power

Planetary Perspective, Global Danger

From a holistic, planetary perspective, three important stories should have preoccupied us over this last week. One relates to food security, one relates to climate security, one relates to economic security. Each threatens every human life and all human life.

New research indicates the impact of rising CO2 levels in the Earth's atmosphere will cause unstoppable effects to the climate for at least the next 1000 years, causing researchers to estimate a collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet by the year 3000, and an eventual rise in the global sea level of at least four metres. Climate Change To Continue To Year 3000 In Best Case Scenarios, Terra Daily, 1-10-11

The Obama administration's $78 billion cut to US defense spending is a mere "pin-prick" to a behemoth military-industrial complex that must drastically shrink for the good of the republic, a former Reagan administration budget director recently told Raw Story ... Short of that, he suggested, the United States has "reached the point of no return" with its artificial creation of wealth, and will eventually face a sharp economic decline. Exclusive: America has ‘reached the point of no return,’ Reagan budget director warns, Raw Story, 1-10-11

Food riots, geopolitical tensions, global inflation and increasing hunger among the planet's poorest people are the likely effects of a new surge in world food prices, which have hit an all-time high according to the United Nations. The Coming Hunger: Record Food Prices Put World 'in Danger', Says UN, Independent/UK, 1-6-11

Of course, even if a mentally disturbed individual who went from posing in a g-string with his Glock to perpetrating a terrorist atrocity at a Tuscon Safeway had not held up a shattered mirror to our loathesome self-image, we would have chosen to ignore these three stories of profound planetary significance. It is just so much easier to live in denial, until it is inescapable; and then well, just smash the mirror.

A UnWell UnRegulated Militia

Yes, he was psychologically disturbed, yes, he acted alone. But he might as well have received a phone call suggesting that he play a game of solitaire. Because you don't need a complex criminal conspiracy when you have a political culture so brutalized, so full of dog whistles, that it does your dirty work for you.

America, you're in denial about climate change, you're in denial about the causes of world hunger, you're in denial about your own military industrial complex, you're in denial about so much, must you be in denial about the meaning of the Tuscon attack too?

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in the head at a public event in Tucson; six others were murdered, including a federal judge and a little girl interested in civics, who was born on 9/11/01. And this atrocity occurred just days after what amount to a right-wing cult took possession of the committee chairmanships in the U.S. House of Representatives.

There is no moral equivalency between the Zombie Right and the rest of us, ranging as we do from the center to the left; none whatsoever. It is not us versus them. It is civil society versus madness. That is why it must be understood that the struggle in the US body politic is no longer between right and left it is between reason and madness. That's why Jon Stewart and Barack Obama are wrong with their false moral equivalency; it is not about us vs. them. We have a House committee chairman who quotes Genesis as his proof that climate change is not a threat to life on this planet. That's not us vs. them that's reason version madness.

Armed with Wal-Mart munitions, awash in surround sound toxic talk, and underwritten with a black check from Citizens United, the corporatist overlords and their crypto-fascist foot soldiers demand nothing less than total victory: the bankrupting of the U.S. federal government in all ways but military, the neutering of all regulatory agencies (e.g., EPA, FDA, etc.), the perversion of human rights into those of an imaginary corporate personhood (first and foremost, the equating of "filthy lucre" with free speech), the privatization of the commons (e.g., infrastructure and water), and the humbling of the middle class.

Land of the free? Home of the brave? We are by besieged by an unwell-unregulated militia.

During an interview on MSNBC's Hardball, Media Matters President and CEO David Brock accused Glenn Beck of being "responsible for three thwarted assassination attempts this year." Indeed, in each of the three examples Brock cited -- Gregory Giusti, Charles Wilson, and Byron Williams -- the incendiary and often violent rhetoric spewed by the Fox News host and elsewhere on the network was said to be a motivating factor, if not the inspiring factor, in the men's actions. Media Matters, 1-13-10

"Same As It Ever Was, Same As It Ever Was ..."

Of all the commentary offered in the aftermath of the Tuscon terrorist attack, the most poignant was also perhaps the most insightful:

On November 22, 1963, Mummy picked me up early from Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. Driving home to Hickory Hill in northern Virginia, I noticed that all the District flags were at half staff. Mummy told us that a bad man had shot Uncle Jack and that he was in heaven. ... Neither Beck, Hannity nor Savage nor the hate merchants at Fox News and talk radio can claim to have invented their genre. Toxic right-wing vitriol so dominated the public airwaves from the McCarthy era until 1963 that President Kennedy, that year, launched a citizen's campaign to enforce the Fairness Doctrine, which required accuracy and balance in the broadcast media. Students, civic and religious groups filed more than 500 complaints against right-wing extremists and hate-mongering commentators before the FCC.
The Dallas, Texas, airwaves were particularly radioactive; preachers and political leaders and local businessmen spewed extremist vitriol on the city's radio and TV stations, inflaming the passions of the city's legions of unhinged fanatics. There was something about the city -- a rage or craziness, that, whether sensible or not, seemed to have set the stage for Jack's murder. The Voice of America, half an hour after the assassination, described Dallas as "the center of extreme right wing." The Texas town was such a seething cauldron of right-wing depravity that historian William Manchester portrayed it as recalling the final days of the Weimar Republic.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Tucson: Time for Another Examination of Conscience, Huffington Post, 1-11-11

The Other Responsible Party?

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered because he knew what to do and was willing to do it. Robert F. Kennedy was murdered because he knew what to do and was willing to do it. Jack Kennedy was murdered because he knew what to do and was willing to do it.

Where does that leave us all here and now?

There are two groups responsible for last Saturday’s tragedy in Tucson Arizona.
One group is made up of right-wing Republicans, Tea Party fanatics, and extremist conservative talk show personalities. These people have, for too long now, been consciously creating an atmosphere in which illegal acts of intimidation and violence are mistaken for patriotism. ... However, the situation would never have gotten to its present explosive level without the complementary behavior of the second group. And that is the country’s center/liberal establishment, including the Democratic Party leadership, all of whom have failed to treat the right-wing threat seriously. It does not matter if members of this group simply misjudged the situation or they had the mistaken notion that to confront it would only make things worse. In either case they were wrong. Whether we consider Al Gore’s response to the stolen presidential election of 2000 or Barack Obama’s consistent refusal to prosecute the criminal acts of the Bush-era extremists, these center/liberal leaders have behaved irresponsibly in the face of a growing and recognizably dangerous situation. They do the country no favor by confronting a violent right with passivity or sorrowful words.
Lawrence Davidson, Is Obama Right to Quiet Debate? Consortium News, 1-13-11

On Wednesday, POTUS delivered a powerful speech in Tuscon, at the memorial for the fallen. It was an admirable performance by a smart and decent man in an impossible position.

But the true nature of danger remains unacknowledged and unchallenged by Beltwayistan or Infotainmentstan; in large part because the true nature of the danger has come to permeate the political establishment and the mainstream media. (See F.A.I.R.'s remarkable analysis: Violent Media Rhetoric: Beyond Tucson, Common Dreams, 1-14-11)

So where does that leave us all here and now?

One recent morning, I stood in the damp air, grateful for the pre-dawn darkness, grateful for the murky lavender of the street lamp glow reflected in the low-hanging clouds, grateful the motionless silhouettes of these trees that have witnessed so much in deep silence.

Each tear is a rain drop, each rain drop is a tear. Each smile is a sunrise, each sunrise is a sunset somewhere else. Do not cling to fear, & it will dissolve. Do not cling to joy, & it will return. Courage is like the sky; once you have found it, you cannot exhaust it. Compassion is like the sea; once you have found it, it will undulate ceaselessly. Embrace all of life, it needs your touch. Martin Luther King Day is upon us.

Mike Papantonio: Tea Party Terrorists Given Free Pass by Mainstream Media

Gabrielle Giffords' Prophetic Remarks on Palin's Crosshairs

Richard Power's seventh book, Between Shadow and Night: The Singularity in Anticipation of Itself, is now available. Here are links to purchase it from, or from CreateSpace.

You can also visit Richard Power author's page at

Hard Rain Late Night: Natalie Merchant - Wonder (David Letterman Show, 1996)

Natalie Merchant - Wonder (David Letterman Show, 1996)

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A Progressive Strategy for 2011-2012 that Does Not Require Capitulation or Self-Destruction?

Wassily Kandinsky, Suave Ascension (1934)

A Progressive Strategy for 2011-2012 that Does Not Require Capitulation or Self-Destruction?

By Richard Power

Can we develop a progressive strategy for 2011-2012 that does not demand either self-righteous self-destruction or capitulation to the corporatist faction?

Here are some insights and ideas.

The Harsh Truth

It is of vital importance to embrace the truth, however harsh.

The fa├žade is crumbling. And as more and more people realize that they have been used and robbed, we will move swiftly from Huxley’s “Brave New World” to Orwell’s “1984.” The public, at some point, will have to face some very unpleasant truths ... The state has devolved from a capitalist democracy to neo-feudalism. Chris Hedges, 2011: A Brave New Dystopia, TruthDig, 12-27-10

Pivoting on the axis of this revelation, take a look backward and then forward.

Half-Empty is Half-Full

The philosophical question of whether the glass is half-full or half-empty is rather silly from a mystical perspective. It is typically framed as an either/or question; but the truth is that half-empty means half-full.

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, is no "happy-clappy liberal." She has put herself on the line over and over again throughout the darkest years of the Aughts. So her insights into the full spectrum reality of 2010 are worthy of note.

Benjamin's list of “More Than Ten Good Things to Celebrate in a Bad Year” includes the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the election of Dilma Rouseff as President of Brazil, the appointment of Elizabeth Warren as “consumer czar,” the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiabao, the Wikileaks revelations “exposing the inner machinations of U.S. foreign policy,” the repeal of “Don't Ask, Don’t Tell,” the dramatic reduction of U.S. troop levels in Iraq, the passing of the health care bill, the Senate ratification of the New START between Russia and the USA, the end of the Hummer (28 hybrid models on market today, at least 12 electric cars planned for 2011), the announcement of U.S. support of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Indigenous People, the announcement that the Obama administration (in a policy reversal after the BP oil disaster) will not allow offshore oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico or off the Atlantic coast for at least seven more years, the banning of foreign private security contractors by the Iraqi and Afghan governments, the rise of public debate about the “failed Marijuana Prohibition” (despite the defeat of Prop. 19 in California), and the dramatic restructuring of the government-supported student loan program. See Medea Benjamin, More Than Ten Good Things to Celebrate in a Bad Year, Common Dreams, 12-28-10

What is striking in this poignant list is that eight of the fifteen “Good Things” would not have occurred if McCain-Palin had been elected. Neither Benjamin nor I are apologists for this administration. But the truth is the truth. The cup is both half empty and half full. We could be much worse off; and likely will be, if a) POTUS and his inner circle continue their migration to the right, and b) in reaction the progressive movement fractures and turns on itself. (For further perspective on the glass half-full dimension of our current predicament, see 111th Congress Was Most Productive Session Since ‘At Least’ The 1960s Think Progress, 12-23-10 and Sotomayor, Kagan shift Supreme Court Debates to the Left, L.A. Times, 12-26-10)

Should a thirsty person knock over a glass that is half-full out of anger that it is half-empty? Why not sip slowly and maneuver until you can gain control of the tap?

The Trap

Yes, what we had all hoped would come from Obama’s victory in 2008 has proven to be, as Eric Alterman observes, impossible. (See Eric Alterman, Kabuki Democracy: Why a Progressive Presidency Is Impossible, for Now, The Nation, 7-7-10)

But that's not the worst of it. POTUS is actually NOT a progressive; at least not at this point in his political career. He is governing as a centrist; arguably he is actually center-right. He may have banned the word “triangulation” from his White House; but it is his style of governance. POTUS is not the leader of the progressive movement, and should not be treated as such. He has no interest in the role. He has chosen to be the deal-maker-in-chief, not the reformer-in-chief.

The extension of the Bush tax cuts, and POTUS’ incredibly cynical statements about the sell-out being some kind of job-creating measure are an abomination. Those “happy-clappy liberals” (Stephanie Miller’s turn of phrase) who justify this abomination because the package included extended unemployment benefits, etc., and also cleared the way for passage of the DADT repeal and the New START treaty, are misguided and misguiding.

But those progressives who want to “primary Obama” in 2012 are just as misguided and misguiding. Oh, the clamor for it has died down some since a handful of successes at the final days of the 111th Congress. But it may well return, and justifiably so, as the new Congress opens, and POTUS flirts with “fixing” Social Security (and other corporatist-pandering nonsense).

Nevertheless, moving against him in the primaries is a trap. Howard Dean knows this. (See Howard Dean: Obama primary challenge would be ‘a bad thing for the country’) Bernie Sanders knows this. (See 'Ain't gonna do it,' Bernie Sanders says of a potential White House run in 2012, The Hill, 12-27-10) Dennis Kucinich knows this. (See A 2012 Democratic presidential primary with Dennis Kucinich? 'His answer is no', Cleveland Plain Dealer, 12-8-10)

Why do some progressives want to primary Obama? Because he has given the corporatists so much of what they want from watered-down health care reform to largely cosmetic financial reform to sell-out on Net Neutrality. But the bitter truth is that if progressives were to challenge Obama in the primaries, in any meaningful way, then progressives would be responsible for giving the corporatists the rest of what they want. The zombie legion formerly known as the Republican Party would re-take the White House, and probably the Senate too. And in the process, the progressive movement would be seriously fractured. The African-American community would not abandon POTUS, nor should it be expected too. Progressive voices would be marginalized, and consigned to a sort of caged free speech zone in the body politic; progressive issues would be lost for a decade.

A better strategy would be to follow the example of the GLBT activists who forced the repeal of DADT by getting in POTUS’ face and staying there until it was done; by organizing and raising funds around their burning issue, and by refusing to be silenced.

A better strategy would be to use the precious time remaining in POTUS’ first term, and hopefully the four years of his second term, to deepen, strengthen and expand progressive grass roots, progressive new media, etc., as well as to refine a 21st Century progressive agenda based on a few simple, powerful ideas, e.g.: corporations are not people, and money is not speech. A movement organized around undoing this egregious wrong, if articulated in common sense terms, could prove transformational.

Here is a short list of progressive issues worth fighting for:

Corporations are not people, and money is not speech.

Lead the world in the reduction of greenhouse gases, dominate the global market in renewable energy and green technology. It is the ultimate job-creation program.

Universal health care is a basic human right.

Social security is not broken. Strengthen it by simply having the wealthy pay the same percent of their income into the fund as the rest of the populace does.

Fix the deficit by repealing the Bush tax cuts, and cutting bloated military spending (nearly as much on military power as every other country in the world combined) and start with ending the foolish military adventures in Iraq AND Afghanistan.

Obama used the progressive movement to help him win the White House; well the progressive movement should use him to buy itself enough time to take over the Democratic Party, and see to it that the corporatist grip is broken.

Meanwhile ...

DADT repeal and START ratification are profound; but even taken together they do not compensate for the U.S. Senate’s failure to action on Climate and Energy.

The Climate Crisis is the greatest threat to national security, economic security, public health and food security, and yet it is the fourth or fifth or sixth issue on most progressives’ lists of priorities. Why? It defies common sense.

Without action on the Climate Crisis, all the good of the DADT repeal and the New START ratification are for naught; and unfortunately, action on the Climate and Renewable Energy is as unlikely as action on universal health care.

In the midst of the media pundit fawning about the passage of New START, no one asked the insightful question that Climate Progress’ Joe Romm asked (and answered): "What did Obama do right on New Start that he didn’t bother to do on climate change? First and foremost, he simply never had a serious public fight. He never made it clear that this was in fact the central national security issue of our time. He never did any serious public messaging on it at all." (Climate Progress, 12-22-10)

Of course, the corporatist “news” media (a.k.a., Infotainmentstan) makes it easy for the political establishment (a.k.a Beltwayistan) and the body politic itself (including most progressives) to continue avoiding the Climate Crisis.

If you are curious about how a real news organization would cover the greatest threat we face, consider Amy Goodman’s framing for a recent Democracy Now segment:

Amy Goodman: Much of the East Coast is still struggling to recover from the massive blizzard that slammed into hundreds of cities and towns from the Carolinas to Maine the day after Christmas. Six states—Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina and Virginia—declared states of emergency. The storm buried cities in more than two feet of snow and unleashed winds of up to 80 miles per hour. Thousands of passengers have been stranded during the busy holiday season with thousands of flights as well as train and bus routes canceled.
It was a grimly fitting end to 2010, which was characterized by extreme weather from start to finish, with earthquakes, heat waves, floods, volcanoes, super typhoons, blizzards, landslides and droughts. In Pakistan, massive flooding submerged one-fifth of the country under water. In Russia, a record heat wave sparked wildfires that left 15,000 people dead. In Niger, first a severe drought threatened widespread famine, then floods left more than 100,000 homeless. In Europe, heavy snow and blizzards threw air traffic into turmoil. Deadly floods and mudslides killed thousands in China, India, Venezuela, Indonesia and many other countries. Meanwhile, preliminary data show that 18 countries broke their records for the hottest day ever. In fact, 2010 may go down as the hottest on record worldwide, this according to the World Meteorological Organization.Amy Goodman Interviews Dr. Paul Epstein, Democracy Now, 12-28-10

And just what is it that we should be doing? The subject of the interview answers with great clarity and simplicity:

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Paul Epstein, in just the minute we have left, what people can do about it?
DR. PAUL EPSTEIN: We can do a lot. We need to move, as we are, towards electric vehicles and stop burning everything. Even ethanol has its health impacts and affects ozone levels in the ground, the ground photochemical smog. But those vehicles need to be plugged in to a cleanly powered smart grid. And we need to move towards the clean grid, the cleanly powered smart grid. And we can move today rapidly towards a smart grid with technologies that optimize use. And then healthy cities programs, with green buildings, rooftop gardens, tree-lined streets, biking lanes, open space, permeable surface, smart growth, public transport, and cities connected by light rail—these can all make our cities healthier, create jobs, stimulate the economy, and help move us and move climate friendly technologies into the global marketplace.

Imagine such language from the bully pulpit of the SOTU, but don’t hold your breath. Just remember those DADT activists, and how they got what they demanded.

Do you know why 350 is the most important number in your life and the lives of everyone you love? Go to for the answer.

Democracy Now: From Snowstorms to Heat Waves, How Global Warming Causes Extreme Weather and Climate Instability

Richard Power's seventh book, Between Shadow and Night: The Singularity in Anticipation of Itself, is now available. Here are links to purchase it from, or from CreateSpace.

You can also visit Richard Power author's page at