Rotten Tomatoes for Republicans

All right, I admit defeat. I can’t tune out those crazy Republican Congressmen who actually believe that they are acting righteously in preferring to shut down the U.S. Government rather than guarantee all Americans the right to affordable health care.

I need to let off a little steam, so bear with me.


It is beyond depressing that we have such an apathetic, distracted, numbed electorate, of whom barely 50% generally even bother to show up to the polls.

Of the half who do show up, obviously they are the easily manipulated types, because these Tea Partiers have managed to convince them to vote against their own interests time and time again.

It’s no secret that the Tea Partiers have been most successful in the so-called Red States, where the egregious gap between rich and poor (ie, the gap between the 1% of extreme wealth and the 99% of everyone else, way down at the bottom of the mountain) is huge.

Why would people vote against their own best prospect of getting affordable health care?

Why would people vote against the political party that, while far from perfect, has at least shown a measure of human decency and responsibility in its approach to governing?

images-2It’s only fathomable if you remember how, in Tea Party country, education and the media are entirely controlled by these same craven elites, who will stop at nothing to seize power and control of the country.

In these parts of the country, people live in ideological bunkers, where party-controlled propaganda is the only message they get.  Red China anyone?  1984?

With the advent of the World Wide Web, in America at least, it’s hard to maintain a complete lockdown on information.  But as we all know, we tend to surf to places on the Web that are familiar and tell us what we want to hear.

So I get my news from The New York Times, while in Tea Party country the average citizen is more likely to check out Fox News.  The same story looks entirely different as reported by these different media—check it out and see for yourself.  Spin rules.

This is the only way I can explain the fact that these Tea Party maniacs were elected to Congress in the first place.

I can only hope—yes, I still do have hope—that in the next round of elections, they will be sent back to their Neanderthal caves where they belong.

Then the rest of us adults can get on with the much more important business of the day.

HillaryCare1993aAffordable health care—yes, of course!  We should have had it long ago, back when Hilary Clinton tried to get it going in the mid-1990s.  She was stymied by lack of authority as merely the First Lady, seen as overstepping her bounds (get thee back to the parlor, Mrs. Clinton!).

Now President Obama is getting blowback for daring to challenge the status quo and lobby openly for the rights of the poor and for all Americans who have gotten screwed by the medical industrial complex over and over again.

It’s the same old same old, which is why I have resisted taking up the Tea Party gauntlet this time.  Why should I waste my time and energy with their nonsense?

And yet, as the government shutdown looms, and behind it the mythical debt ceiling crisis, I just have to add my voice to the chorus of BOOS and throw some metaphorical rotten eggs at those stinking Tea Partiers who want to deprive ordinary Americans of the right to a functional government, along with the right to affordable health care and an economic system that at least attempts to lift all boats.

images-1I thank the President and the Democrats for holding the line on this one.  “We don’t negotiate with terrorists,” right?  Let’s let those terrorist Republicans dig their own fox holes and stew in their own SH*T.  I’d like to see John Boehner coming out when it’s all over like Saddaam did, dazed, dirty and totally deposed.


But what can we DO?

It’s not enough to simply lament the disappearance of species, or the poisoning of the air, water and soil of the planet.  The urgent question of our time is WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT?  How can any of us–how can I–act to staunch the hemorrhage and resuscitate this dying patient, our planet, before it’s too late?

Let’s review the options.

There is political reform, through various channels: appealing to our duly elected representatives and/or supporting environmental groups that lobby these politicians and try to pressure the relevant federal and state agencies charged with protecting the “natural resources” of our country.

I have to say that I am quite skeptical of this approach, which doesn’t seem to have worked at all in the 40 years or so since I first became a Ranger Rick reader and aware of the environmental movement.

Things have gotten much worse for the natural world in my lifetime, despite all the efforts of big, well-funded groups like the National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, or even Greenpeace, the most radical of them all. Greenpeace is the most willing to go out on a limb to protect species and habitat, but its actions have failed to make the kind of global difference we need.

There is international peer pressure to do the right thing–conventions, treaties and protocols.  Even as I type these words, I inwardly despair.  From Kyoto onward, the U.S. has been the bully who refused to play nice in the community of nations whenever it’s come to putting the common good before the holy Free Market.

There is actually going around the blowing up the worst aspects of civilization, like dams, power plants, cell towers and chemical plants, as the proponents of Deep Green Resistance advocate.  Eco-terrorism, anyone?

Or there’s crowd power of the Occupy Wall Street variety, which certainly seems right now to hold the most promise.  ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has,” Margaret Mead said.

But how to convince those crowds that the fate of seals, bees and goldfinches–not to mention the oceans and the boreal forests of North America–is actually more important than the injustices of economic inequality here in the U.S.?

Of course, it’s all important.  I have several friends who are on unemployment now and having serious trouble finding jobs.  If the Tea Party had their way, unemployment itself would be a thing of the past, a quaint relic of the old New Deal.  We can’t let these radical conservatives shred our social safety net, and we do need to start creating jobs again–green jobs, of course.

But there is no single issue more urgent than climate and environmental health, because if our climate goes haywire and our life support systems here on Earth fail, folks, we are all going down with the ship.

How to convey this to the crowds who are willing to turn out to protest economic injustice, but give it a miss when the issue is global warming?  How to convince people that what we should be demanding as we flood the squares and Main Streets of our country are well- subsidized options to reduce our energy consumption?

Doesn’t sound very glamorous, but the truth is that there’s nothing more important to be fighting for right now than subsidies to install solar roof tiles, like they’ve been doing in Europe for a decade already; and solar hot water heaters; and geothermal ducts for large buildings; and affordable green tech cars.

As Mark Hertsgaard and others have been saying, it’s not enough to make individual green lifestyle decisions, like recycling or composting or turning out the lights when you leave the room.  These individual actions are all well and good, but they’re not going to make the dramatic change we need to get our climate back into shape.

For the kind of change that will save the polar bears and the walruses and the coral, we need our government to step up and protect the interests of its people.  Not the interests of the corporations which have collectively driven our planet to the brink of ruin with their shortsighted greedy ethos of extraction and exploitation.

Government by the people, for the people.  And for the environment that sustains these people in a web of life that includes all living beings on this planet.

How to say this in a way that will light up the imaginations of the 99% and ignite an unstoppable movement for change?

I will keep trying.  What more can I do?

Occupy Wall Street: Finally, the New York Times Gets It!! Now, how about Obama?

Protesters Against Wall Street –

This is a big victory for the Occupy Wall Street movement.  To move the staid NY Times from complete indifference to disdainful incomprehension to vigorous approval in the space of just three weeks is truly remarkable!

Haven’t I been saying that the young people today are the sleeping giant that needs to awaken, stretch and roar?  Any subordinate class (and make no mistake, the young ARE a subordinate class) is only kept down through ignorance of the true extent of their power.

In the past, it’s usually been a charismatic leader who has seized the microphone and shaken the masses out of their beaten-down stupor.  Think Frederick Douglass or Martin Luther King Jr., for example.

With Occupy Wall Street, we’re onto something new: a “leaderless movement,” without microphones, but with the extraordinary amplifying power of the World Wide Web.

Social media couldn’t have done it alone–we need the resolute presence of those flesh and blood people down at Liberty Square and in parks and street corners all across America.  But their resistance is exponentially strengthened by the social network around them, spreading like wildfire throughout the country and the world.

President Obama responded at least obliquely in last week’s press conference, showing at least a glimmer of understanding of what the movement is about.

If he had a shred of political sense, he’d be looking for ways to harness the intelligence, social commitment and determination of these young people to stand up to the Tea Party crowd and the drill-and-kill Republicans who have shown themselves again and again to be against social equality in any way, shape or form.

This could turn into the political juggernaut needed to push the Republicans back into their holes, and give the Democrats some much-needed backbone.

One thing is certain: these kids are not backing down, and they’re not going to be fobbed off with half-hearted gestures of appeasement.  They are after real social change, from the ground up.

What was it Arundhati Roy used to say?   “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.  On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”


Some good news, for a change….

In a week when everyone seemed mesmerized by the spectacle of the USS Congress ramming right up against that proverbial iceberg, there was actually some good news for the planet.

1. American car-makers backed the new federally mandated emissions standards, requiring cars to get 54 mpg by 2025.  Of course, 2025 seems very far away, but given that longterm target, car manufacturers may very well start tooling up to reach that goal even sooner.  We could still do better, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

2. Mark Bittman, the chef and food writer, publishing in the very mainstream New York Times, advocated that Americans skip meat and cheese one day a week, which would be “the equivalent of taking 7.6 million cars off the road.”  He made this suggestion based on a new report released by the Environmental Working Group, entitled “Meat-eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health.”

Among many other points that document makes, Bittman pointed to one that made me sit up and take note: “A 2009 National Cancer Institute study of 500,000 Americans found that the people who ate the most red meat were 20 percent more likely to die of cancer and at least 27 percent more likely to die of heart disease than those who ate the least.”

3. Dam removal to restore river habitat for spawning salmon has begun in Washington State on the Elwha River!  Hopefully the Klamath River in Oregon will be next. When I read Derrick Jensen’s Endgame earlier this summer, I was struck by how fervently he talked about taking out dams as an environmental goal (along with felling cell towers).

I didn’t think American agricultural interests in the West would ever allow this willingly, making Derrick’s proposal to actually go out and blow up dams seem entirely reasonable as a strategy for getting the job done.  But lo and behold, it is happening this summer on the Elwha River, and maybe once people see those salmon heading upstream again, they’ll open their eyes to what needs to be done on other, larger rivers as well.

It’s not easy to sit by helplessly as the Tea Party makes a mockery of the American bedrock of bipartisan government.  So much is at stake; so many lives, my own included, will be negatively impacted by the economic ripples that come of this summer’s political gamesmanship.  But it does help to remember that it was America in boom mode that wreaked such havoc on our environment to begin with.

Maybe America in bust mode will become more sober, more efficient, less wasteful, and more focused on what really matters: strengthening our connections with each other, and with the natural world.  I don’t think that’s what the Tea Party has in mind for a moment, but who ever said they knew what they were doing?

%d bloggers like this: