Mississippi Delta Children (Dorothea Lange, 1936)
Pollution and global warming are pushing the world's oceans to the brink of a mass extinction of marine life unseen for tens of millions of years, a consortium of scientists warned ...Agence France Press, 6-20-11
The rate of sea level rise along the U.S. Atlantic coast is greater now than at any time in the past 2,000 years -- and has shown a consistent link between changes in global mean surface temperature and sea level. Science Daily, 6-21-11
The world's largest rainforest is ravaged by deforestation and two recent droughts. If they continue, says one expert, the Amazon risks entering a period where it can no longer be relied upon to absorb more greenhouse gas emissions than it produces ... The Ecologist, 5-27-11
Jared Diamond: There are so many societies in which the elite made decisions that were good for themselves in the short run and ruined themselves and societies in the long run ... Climate Progress, 6-19-11
What Do POTUS, Rep. Kucinich and Chris Matthews Have in Common? They Are All Failing A Vital Test of Leadership Right Here, Right Now
by Richard Power
Did you see the news story reporting that only five out of fifty one Ms. America contestants were willing to state that evolution should be taught in public schools? (Ms. California won, BTW; one of the five, and yes, they were all from Blue States.)
Do you remember the significance of "2 x 2 = 4" in George Orwell's 1984? It was the arithmetic with which the Thought Police sought to break Winston Smith. Two plus two equals five, IF the Big Brother says so, Smith was told. His choice was to either accept the falsehood or be tortured until he did.
Well, what are the consequences in a society so far gone that even an overwhelming majority of its beauty contest participants are willing to say the intellectual equivalent of either "two plus two equals five" or "it is not yet decided whether two plus two equals four or five"? There are many consequences. NONE of them are healthy.
Of course, the Ms. American Pageant was not the only recent "beauty contest" in which the loss of our national sanity was on display. Have you read the transcript of the Republican Party 2011 Presidential Debate in New Hampshire? Seven would-be presidential nominees stepping over each other, twisting themselves into little knots, all striving to out-crazy their opponents.
What they said had NOTHING to do with reality, NOTHING. All of it, the policies they proposed, the analysis they offered, all of it was utterly out of touch with REALITY.
(And no, I don't give a damn that Romney acknowledged the truth of human-induced climate change. We are so very far beyond any point at which that would be an appropriate response for a person in a position of leadership.)
One after another, these presidential hopefuls contradicted established SCIENCE, the laws of ECONOMICS and even the facts of HISTORY. That should have been the story. The headlines should have read "One of America's Two Major Political Parties has Lost Its Mind." Instead, the bizarre agenda of this Zombie Party is allowed to frame the public debate.
Consider the fate of Barack Obama and his Impossible Presidency.
While his name was being booed at Netroots Nation, POTUS was playing golf with John Boehner, working on a deal that will (whatever else it does) prop up the false pretense that our economic woes are due to Social Security, Medicare and numerous other programs that benefits poor and working class citizens, and I am certain that in that confidential conversation, the Climate Crisis was never mentioned.
Yes, our nation is in imminent danger of sliding off a cliff and into an abyss of woe. Our species itself is threatened. The planet we rely on for our sustenance is rapidly changing into something that we will not be able to rely on or even recognize.
And even if we were not facing environmental catastrophe, we would be facing economic catastrophe. Our nation has fallen victim to a predatory corporatism; which is rapaciously undermining our democratic institutions, dismantling our industrial base, and disenfranchising our people.
And still, POTUS made a golf date with Boehner.
But POTUS is not alone in his failure to confront our true peril. This moment of profound despair has brought the worse out in many of us.
Consider the examples of Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Hardball host Chris Matthews.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich has been a dauntless champion of the progressive agenda in some of the darkest days of our history, and yet, once in awhile he offers a painfully illustrative lesson in how to be ineffective and irrelevant. The latest is his decision to join up with nine House members (including seven with "R" after their name) to sue POTUS over, gulp, yes, our involvement in the NATO military action in Libya.
Now, before you hyperventilate, let me assure you the right or wrong our involvement is NOT germane to my point. We are, indeed, living in a time of runaway illegality when it comes to the foreign military adventures, and related Constitutional issues; and we have been for quite awhile. I do not dismiss this fact. I simply suggest that Libya is not the place to draw a line in the sand, and seven members of the Zombie Cult formerly known as the Republican Party are not the allies with whom to make such a stand. It is a fool's errand, it is a waste of time, it is a distraction. Why it's almost as silly as suing the Capitol Hill cafeteria over an olive pit. Oh wait a minute, Rep. Kucinich recently did that too, didn't he?
Of course, Kucinich is not the only progressive to have skewed priorities. As Brendan Smith and Jeremy Brecher wrote in a recent op-ed piece for Common Dreams: ... climate change is not just another “issue.” The earth is in the midst of a radical shift that will affect our country and society more severely than other great upheavals such as the Civil War, the Great Depression, or World War II. It represents an existential threat to every human and every community on the planet. It threatens every job, every economy in the world ... Smith and Breche, Are Progressives in Denial About Climate Change? 6-12-11
But no one, not those who drink the Chamber of Horrors' kool-aid of climate change denialism, not those who play golf with the Renfields of the kool-aid purveyors, not those earnest progressives struggling futilely outside the mainstream, NO ONE bears greater responsibility for our dire circumstances than the propapunditgandists of Infotainmentstan.
Which brings us at last to Hardball host Chris Matthews (who, at this point, is little more than a parody of himself).
Al Gore just wrote a brilliant, hard-hitting piece on the Climate Crisis, harshly criticizing both POTUS and the US mainstream news media for their silence and inaction.
This triggered an extraordinary response in Matthews. Climate change made it to Hardball. Of course, it wasn't the lead story, but he did give it a whole segment. Salon's Joan Walsh did a great job, as per usual, articulating a caring, insightful and yet pragmatic view of the political realities and progressive imperatives that Gore's piece highlighted. But Matthews' performance was verging on the hysterical.
And what was he so distraught about?
Not that we have done NOTHING meaningful to change the direction of this nation on the grave threat of Climate Crisis. No. Matthews felt compelled to defend POTUS from Al Gore's "attack."
Matthews said that Gore should be attacking Beck, Limbaugh and the Chamber of Commerce, not POTUS. They're the fire, he said. POTUS is the fire brigade. Don't attack the fire brigade, attack the fire.
Oh really? Well, Tweetie Bird, Gore has been attacking Limbaugh, Beck and the Chamber of Horrors for years; but you have not spent one segment on any of these attacks, or on the true scope of the Climate Crisis itself. It was Gore's critique on Obama that got you off the dime, and when you did, it was to attack the messenger for bringing a message that is worse than inconvenient.
If Barack Obama is the fire brigade, Tweetie Bird, why is the fire brigade playing golf with the fire?
And as for POTUS, Gore is not asking for "Superman," he is not asking for a being that could reverse the rotation of the planet to go backward in time and prevent the worst from happening, no, he is simply asking for MORAL LEADERSHIP from a President who has now given three SOTU, and hardly mentioned the Climate Crisis at all; he is simply asking the man billed as the most powerful man in the world, with all the power of the Executive Branch of the U.S. federal government under his sway, to at the very least use his bully pulpit to tell the sheeple that this is no longer a debate about whether or not climate change is real, it is a debate on whether or not we will survive what we have done to ourselves and our world.
The reality is that economic and environmental catastrophes are unfolding before us. The reality is that the antidote to both is the same: a green economy, modeled on sustainable growth and renewable energy, and predicated on human rights (e.g., universal health care, and free wi-fi from sea to shining sea).
Here is are brief excerpts Gore's great piece in Rolling Stone. It includes scathing critiques of POTUS and the US mainstream news media, as well as Gore's list of "five basic ways" that "individuals can make a difference." I urge you to read the whole of it, and spread it far and wide.
President Obama has thus far failed to use the bully pulpit to make the case for bold action on climate change. After successfully passing his green stimulus package, he did nothing to defend it when Congress decimated its funding. After the House passed cap and trade, he did little to make passage in the Senate a priority. Senate advocates — including one Republican — felt abandoned when the president made concessions to oil and coal companies without asking for anything in return. He has also called for a massive expansion of oil drilling in the United States….
During the final years of the Bush-Cheney administration, the rest of the world was waiting for a new president who would aggressively tackle the climate crisis — and when it became clear that there would be no real change from the Bush era, the agenda at Copenhagen changed from “How do we complete this historic breakthrough?” to “How can we paper over this embarrassing disappointment?”
… Yet without presidential leadership that focuses intensely on making the public aware of the reality we face, nothing will change. The real power of any president, as Richard Neustadt wrote, is “the power to persuade.” Yet President Obama has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis ...
Continuing on our current course would be suicidal for global civilization. But the key question is: How do we drive home that fact in a democratic society when questions of truth have been converted into questions of power? When the distinction between what is true and what is false is being attacked relentlessly, and when the referee in the contest between truth and falsehood has become an entertainer selling tickets to a phony wrestling match? Al Gore slams Obama for Failing to Take on “the Merchants of Poison,” Compares Media to Pro Wrestling Referees, Climate Progress, 6-22-11
Want to hear the message that could be coming from the Obama administration?
Van Jones: Now is the Time to Protect the American Dream - "It's time for the deep patriots to stand up to the cheap patriots." Van Jones' address to Netroots Nation 2011.
Our circumstances call for massive, non-violent EVOLUTION.
Do you know why 350 is the most important number in your life and the lives of everyone you love? Go to 350.org for the answer.
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 Amazon.com, or from CreateSpace.
You can also visit Richard Power author's page at Amazon.com.