Thursday, January 5, 2017

Looking For Reasons To Be Optimistic

My latest newspaper column, due to be published Saturday:
Looking ahead to the new year, I’m trying to be optimistic. 
We might survive turning public education into religious school, although there’d likely be a half-generation of kids who’d be lost before educators regain influence on education policy. Maybe humanity can even outlast more war in the Middle East or a new one in Asia, to which, based on Trump’s appointments and his personal lack of rigor, not to mention his half-cocked tweets, we look to be headed. And, having seen various rivers and lakes recover from deadly pollution in the past, perhaps it could happen again, if the offing of the land that appears to be in the offing is recognized by enough people to elect better stewards next time around, people who think the environment is worth protecting. Assuming we’ll still be having elections. 
I was pleasantly surprised to see that even Donald Trump disapproved of the latest shameless digital frickative shown to America by Republican congressfolk when they decided, just in time for his ascent to office, to nuke their own ethics committee. Too bad he didn’t show the same concern when North Carolina legislators told their voters to shove off after they booted their Republican governor; or when his campaign co-chair from New York made vile comments about the Obamas. 
Having never met an ethical boundary beyond which he wouldn’t go, Trump’s disapproval of the ethical edict was less about the action than the timing thereof. Still, the episode afforded a glimmer of hope. Enough people retched at the wretchedness that the lawmakers temporarily skulked away. A guidebook, one hopes, for the future, and a reminder to pay attention. 
It all may be moot though, because that from which we’ll not be able to recover is the empowerment of climate change denial and inaction. Scientists (the people Republicans, almost to a woman and man, tell us are to be distrusted and disregarded) have been warning of the point of no return, as we approach a positive feedback loop that makes it self-sustaining no matter what we do or do not. Melting glaciers mean less sun reflection and more heat absorption by exposed land. Warming oceans and tundra release more trapped methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, causing more trapped heat and more melting, more warming... 
Every month, every year, a new record for highest global temperature is set despite dishonest claims of a “pause." How much more obvious must it become before Donald Trump, his appointees, supporters, and practically everyone in his party acknowledge it? When did it become such an irreconcilably partisan issue? Why is ours the one developed nation that refuses to accept it; and where did the fossil fuel industry, the only people who stand to benefit from continued denial, get the power to control the argument? 
The answer to that, at least, is obvious: they have the money, about which the elected of today’s Republican Party care more than they do about the lives of the population they’ve convinced to elect them and sworn to serve. Even less do they care about the planet on which many of us live. The current EPA refused Trump’s ominous demand for the names of its climate-change researchers. The next one, about to be run by a climate change denier, won’t. Because it’s not enough to deny truths that threaten the self-enrichment agenda; they must be hunted down and destroyed. 
Having no time for security briefings, Trump has plenty to tweet about a bad restaurant review, and more than enough to tour the country holding the same self-congratulatory rallies he did before the election, wallowing in cheers, mocking those on the losing side, insulting the press that exposed his lies. Disinterested in healing, our president-elect, since November eighth, has been a neenering fourth-grader. (No offense intended to fourth graders.) Surrounded by rich sycophants on New Year’s Eve, he promised to cut their taxes, rid them of regulations, and end Obamacare, which none of them need. Climate change didn’t come up. Average people weren’t invited. 
The long view is hard. Comprehensive policy is hard. Since winning, our president-elect shares thoughts one-hundred-forty characters at a time, as deep as he goes. 
Optimism? What was I thinking?
[Image source]


  1. Here is something to squash the optimism of otherwise positive folks.

  2. That one passed me by, and I'm only a few miles north of there. I do think, however, that attempts to mitigate the influence of dark money are worthy in theory. This one seems to miss the mark, though.

  3. I should add that, as opposed to Rs and climate change, Seattle is attempting to address a problem, not pretend it doesn't exist.

  4. I find optimism in the fact that NBC stole Megyn Kelly. The fact that Greta Van Susteren is now on MSNBC. The best female talent on FOX is now on NBC. She starts Monday!

    ""The network is the right destination for the smart news and analysis I hope to deliver every day, and I look forward to joining the talented journalists and analysts I respect there.""

  5. Gotta admit I don't watch any of those channels news shows, so I'm neutral on the changes. I sort of see it, though, as the Foxification of MSNBC and NBC, which may not be a good thing. Remains to be seen.

  6. Rachel Maddow had the highest praise for Van Susteren today on her show. She also mentioned that they have been friends for quite some time. I used to watch Fox (for about a year when unemployed years ago) and I recall that all of her shots were straight, unlike the rest of the Fox staff. I'm anxious to see what she does.

  7. Megyn Kelly:

  8. Greta was very rah rah over Sarah Palin, as I recall, and I think her husband helped in her campagin.

  9. "I sort of see it, though, as the Foxification of MSNBC and NBC,..."

    The damage FOX has done to America and around the world is huge. It's BS propaganda fed to anyone with FOX on the dial 24/7/365. So I force myself to watch FOX. I want to know what their point of view is. "Parrot FOX" word for word if you will.


    How many "fair and Balanced" news programming outfits has Megyn Kelly reassure American children that "Santa is white."??? In your entire life, have you ever in all your years heard anyone reassure kids that "Santa is white" on any news program on TV? You roll out the most credible person you have to reassure kids that Santa is Caucasian. The viewers are all white and FOX was confident they could please their viewership by doing what they did. FOX needs a moderator? Roll out Megyn. Need credible election day coverage? Roll out Megyn. Greta's show is not like the rest of FOX. I actually enjoy watching her when she has a guest I am interested in hearing.

    Greta is truly elated to be on MSNBC (starts Monday). Megyn took less money to go to NBC. Nobody tells those two women to do anything and they are beholden to nobody. I bet it killed Megyn to have to reassure kids that FOX is as racist as everyone with honesty says they are. Imagine rolling out Walter Cronkite to reassure America regarding Santa's skin color. FOX is the only place you won't be fired for being racist. In fact, at FOX you are rewarded for being racist.

    Mash on the Greta segment if you want to see a "Zippitiy Doodah" moment. Greta can hardly contain herself.

    So I am writing this thing and just heard on MSNBC Drumpf asking for an investigation of NBC. I shit you not.


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