We Don’t Need a ‘War’ on Climate Change, We Need a Revolution – The New York Times

This year is on track to become the hottest ever recorded, and a growing number of environmentalists are using a particular type of language in response. Some are calling for a huge “mobilization” to “combat” climate change. In an article in the New Republic in August, Bill McKibben, the unofficial spokesperson of the climate movement in the United States, insisted in very literal terms that, we are at war with climate change.In the United States, we are familiar with war metaphors; and they are often politically useful. We have been through wars on poverty, drugs, cancer and even Christmas. In these cases, metaphors are understood as metaphors, but when McKibben points to territory ceded, space invaded, cultural loss and human suffering, he intends to be taken at face value: “It’s not that global warming is like a world war,” he writes. “It is a world war.”War rhetoric serves a valuable function. It stresses the seriousness of the harm, its structural nature and the need to struggle against it. Wars require people to sacrifice and to share responsibility for a joint effort larger than individual preferences and comforts. They can also motivate solidarity: The goal of defeating the enemy orients all activity, and whatever may divide or distract us from achieving that goal must be put aside. In the rhetoric-bag of political discourse, “war” is a forceful weapon.McKibben is one of the most visible and motivating climate activists in North America. He has written an astounding number of influential articles and books, co-founded an organization leading an international fossil fuel divestment campaign, spoken across the country to full auditoriums and participated in high-profile protests, some leading to his arrest. Most recently, he called on all of us to unite with the Standing Rock Sioux against the Dakota Access pipeline. Our goal here is not to attack McKibben so much as the rhetorical strategy that he, along with others, have made increasingly popular.

Source: We Don’t Need a ‘War’ on Climate Change, We Need a Revolution – The New York Times

And Revolution isn’t a loaded word, with its own enemies.

Here is a comment:


Tulsa 4 hours ago

McKibben’s article outlining a war on climate change is clearly intended to use an analogy that the public can easily grasp. It doesn’t deserve this sort of treatment. There is not time to wait for the academics to work their word magic. The goal is clear. The discussion needs to move to a project management level, which is what his article does. It demonstrates that the problem can be solved by conventional project delivery systems that are utilized in construction and industry. Now, political will is needed to implement the project which requires the public to have a clear “story” of how it can be accomplished so they can push the politicians. The American public, and more importantly the American industrial community, will respond to the war mobilization analogy faster than pleas for revolution because the story of American industry supporting military success is a well known and popular story.

Working the Refs – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

“The cryptic letter James Comey, the F.B.I. director, sent to Congress on Friday looked bizarre at the time — seeming to hint at a major new Clinton scandal, but offering no substance. Given what we know now, however, it was worse than bizarre, it was outrageous. Mr. Comey apparently had no evidence suggesting any wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton; he violated longstanding rules about commenting on politically sensitive investigations close to an election; and he did so despite being warned by other officials that he was doing something terribly wrong.

So what happened? We may never know the full story, but the best guess is that Mr. Comey, like many others — media organizations, would-be nonpartisan advocacy groups, and more — let himself be bullied by the usual suspects. Working the refs — screaming about bias and unfair treatment, no matter how favorable the treatment actually is — has been a consistent, long-term political strategy on the right. And the reason it keeps happening is because it so often works.You see this most obviously in news coverage. Reporters who find themselves shut up in pens at Trump rallies while the crowd shouts abuse shouldn’t be surprised: constant accusations of liberal media bias have been a staple of Republican rhetoric for decades. And why not? The pressure has been effective.”

Source: Working the Refs – The New York Times

Paul Krugman has hit another home run, to go with the one in Chicago last night to keep the Cubs in the World Series at 2-3. I hope that after the election next week, President Obama fires Comey for unprofessionalism, and meddling in an election. Many of us agree that Comey should have turned his information over to the Justice Department, and left it at that. Obama might even admit he made a mistake appointing a Republican to be his head of the FBI. “In May 2013, it was reported, and in June 2013 it was made official, that President Barack Obama would nominate Comey to be the next Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, replacing outgoing director Robert Mueller.” Wikipedia.
Here is a comment I approve:

Marie Burns Fort Myers, Florida 5 hours ago

“President Obama should ask for Director Comey’s resignation. If Comey chooses not to comply, the President should fire him, which the POTUS has the authority to do.

It has been clear since Comey publicly expressed his opinion that Clinton was “extremely careless” with sensitive documents that he was putting himself above standard operating rules and practices. There’s a difference between a person of integrity and a self-righteous cowboy. Time for Comey to find a new ranch.

The Constant Weader at http://www.RealityChex.com”

Reply 172 Recommended

3 TVs and No Food: Growing Up Poor in America – by Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

“Too many American kids are set up for failure when they are born into what might be called the “broken class,” where violence, mental illness, drugs and sexual abuse infuse childhood. Yes, such young people sometimes do stupid things, but as a society, we fail them long before they fail us.

There are no silver bullets to eradicate these challenges, but there is “silver buckshot” — an array of policies that make a difference. Early childhood initiatives have a particularly good record, as do efforts to promote work, like the earned-income tax credit. Financial literacy programs help families manage money — and avoid buying large-screen TVs on credit.

One indication that we have the tools and know-how to cut poverty is that other countries have done so. In Britain in 1999, Prime Minister Tony Blair announced a major attack on child poverty, and over the next five years the child poverty rate there dropped to 14 percent from 26 percent.”

Source: 3 TVs and No Food: Growing Up Poor in America – The New York Times

Great writing. Kristof also writes: “Bethany and Cassidy are similar — both ebullient, friendly personalities, charming and quick to laugh. But in effect they grew up on different planets. And anybody who blames Bethany for her troubles doesn’t understand the axiom of America today: Talent is universal, but opportunity is not.”

I’m not familiar with this axiom, and talent is certainly not universal. But Kathleen heard it from her dad. She understands it to mean that the distribution of talent is wider than the distribution of opportunity.


The Ultimate Protest Vote – by By SAÏD SAYRAFIEZADEH – The New York Times

“On Nov. 8 I will be going to the polls and voting, without hesitation or disinclination, for Hillary Clinton. But what a treacherous and unforgivable act this will be for my father, who will no doubt be supporting the only presidential candidate he believes has any chance of saving the United States from almost certain ruin: Alyson Kennedy.

You have probably never heard of Alyson Kennedy until now, and neither have you heard of her running mate, Osborne Hart, unless you happen to be a member of the Socialist Workers Party, as my father has been for the past 50 years, or you happen to have passed in recent months a folding table on a city street and been handed campaign literature explaining that “the only way forward is to organize independent working-class struggles that point toward overturning the dictatorship of capital.” This is the exact sentiment, word for word, that my family subscribed to when I was growing up, a sentiment that can be traced all the way back to Marx, and that held great power over me as a child, and that holds some power over me still, but that seems to hold no power over almost anyone else, including the working class.”

Source: The Ultimate Protest Vote – The New York Times

Who is this guy. I relate to his story, being a follower and disciple of Karl Marx myself, when I was about 16 to 18.

from Wikipedia:

“Saïd Sayrafiezadeh (born 1968)[1] is an American memoirist and fiction writer living in New York City. He won a 2010 Whiting Award for his memoir, When Skateboards Will Be Free. His short-story collection, Brief Encounters With the Enemy, was short-listed for the 2014 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for debut fiction. He serves on the board of directors for the New York Foundation for the Arts.


Sayrafiezadeh was born in Brooklyn, New York, to an Iranian father and an American Jewish mother, both of whom were members of the Socialist Workers Party. He was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His maternal uncle is the novelist Mark Harris.[2] He lives in New York City.”

Why Dakota Is the New Keystone – by Bill McKibbon – The New York Times

“There are at least two grounds for demanding a full environmental review of this pipeline, instead of the fast-track approvals it has received so far. The first is the obvious environmental racism of the whole project.Originally, the pipeline was supposed to cross the Missouri just north of Bismarck, until people pointed out that a leak there would threaten the drinking water supply for North Dakota’s second biggest city. The solution, in keeping with American history, was obvious: make the crossing instead just above the Standing Rock reservation, where the poverty rate is nearly three times the national average. This has been like watching the start of another Flint, Mich., except with a chance to stop it.

The second is that this is precisely the kind of project that climate science tells us can no longer be tolerated. In midsummer, the Obama administration promised that henceforth there would be a climate test for new projects before they could be approved. That promise was codified in the Democratic platform approved by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, which says there will be no federal approval for any project that “significantly exacerbates” global warming.

The review of the Dakota pipeline must take both cases into account.”

Source: Why Dakota Is the New Keystone – The New York Times

Comments are not allowed after this op-ed?

The Conservative Intellectual Crisis – by David Brooks – The New York Times

“I feel very lucky to have entered the conservative movement when I did, back in the 1980s and 1990s. I was working at National Review, The Washington Times, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. The role models in front of us were people like Bill Buckley, Irving Kristol, James Q. Wilson, Russell Kirk and Midge Decter.These people wrote about politics, but they also wrote about a lot of other things: history, literature, sociology, theology and life in general. There was a sharp distinction then between being conservative, which was admired, and being a Republican, which was considered sort of cheesy.

These writers often lived in cities among liberals while being suspicious of liberal thought and liberal parochialism. People like Buckley had friends of every ideological stripe and were sharper for being in hostile waters. They were sort of inside and outside the establishment and could speak both languages.Many grew up poor, which cured them of the anti-elitist pose that many of today’s conservative figures adopt, especially if they come from Princeton (Ted Cruz), Cornell (Ann Coulter) or Dartmouth (Laura Ingraham and Dinesh D’Souza). The older writers knew that being cultured and urbane wasn’t a sign of elitism. Culture was the tool they used for social mobility. T.S. Eliot was cheap and sophisticated argument was free.

The Buckley-era establishment self-confidently enforced intellectual and moral standards. It rebuffed the nativists like the John Birch Society, the apocalyptic polemicists who popped up with the New Right, and they exiled conspiracy-mongers and anti-Semites, like Joe Sobran, an engaging man who was rightly fired from National Review.”

Source: The Conservative Intellectual Crisis – The New York Times

Thank you David Brooks for a brilliant piece. I’ve waded through the comments, and recommended the positive one’s, but there were some negative remarks that were also useful.
For instance, Max Alexander wrote:
“But the word politics comes from the Greek polis, which means community. … Claiming to be anti-government and pro-community is a barren intellectual argument.”
You appear to be blinded by your love of your teachers, to the idea that new problems require new thinking. The Clintons aren’t the monsters they have been accused of being, they are the leaders of the new conservative center that wants to actually address serious problems, and to include the larger community, that includes the middle class, the poor, and people of color, in the protection of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Where your silence is also disturbing, is in not critiquing the conservative effort to stop Planned Parenthood, and ways to reduce population growth.
With the world population exploding from 2 to 7 billion in just 100 years, we are in the Anthropocene, and the Sixth Extinction, the loss of thousands of species, and the loss of bio-diversity. Even in your brilliance, you seem asleep at the wheel of your SUV, as it heads towards an abyss. What shatters this conservative, is that the great solutions are conservative, like a carbon tax, and a plastic garbage tax, that would change all human behavior for the better, through market forces and free choice. How can you fail to see that the real conservatives now, accept civil rights, and are in the environmental movement.


Here is the full Max Alexander quote.
Max Alexander South Thomaston, Maine

“Brooks contends that true conservatives (e.g. himself and Buckley) value “community” over “politics.” But the word politics comes from the Greek polis, which means community. Politics, or government, is how communities function. Claiming to be anti-government and pro-community is a barren intellectual argument.”

Reply 522 Recommended

India’s Air-Conditioning and Climate Change Quandary – by Michael Greenstone – The New York Times

“Air-conditioning is not just a luxury. It’s a critical adaptation tool in a warming world, with the ability to save lives.It also warms the world.Which is why the structure of the recent landmark agreement reached in Kigali, Rwanda, on limiting hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in, among other things, air-conditioners and refrigerators is so important. The agreement accounts for the trade-offs that the world, especially today’s poorest countries, must make in confronting climate change while improving people’s lives.

Consider this: While 87 percent of households in the United States have air-conditioning, only 5 percent of those in India do. Any agreement to limit HFCs across the board would greatly reduce opportunities for people in poorer countries to have access to air-conditioners.To deal with these disparities, the Kigali agreement created three tracks of countries. The richest countries, like the United States, are on the swiftest track, freezing the production and consumption of HFCs by 2018 and bringing HFC levels to 15 percent of 2012 levels by 2036.Much of the rest of the world is taking a middle road, freezing HFC use by 2024 and reducing it to 20 percent of 2021 levels by 2045.

And a small group of the hottest countries, like India, have agreed to an even slower path of reductions, freezing HFC use by 2028 and reducing it to about 15 percent of 2025 levels by 2047. Rich countries, as well as a group of philanthropists, will also provide $80 million to middle-track countries as incentives to attempt tougher goals.

The system illustrates that, at its core, cutting greenhouse gas pollution requires countries to assume upfront costs today in exchange for smaller climate damage in the future.But there is no universal answer for how to balance these costs. Countries’ choices will reflect their current and future wealth; current and future climate; and other factors, including societal values. The track system allows for those differences and may well be a model for future climate deals.”

Source: India’s Air-Conditioning and Climate Change Quandary – The New York Times

Here is a comment I can second:

Al Trease Ketchum Idaho 22 hours ago

“The nyts has printed many articles, especially in the last several years, detailing the agreements that bho has signed that purport to be addressing climate change. There’s only one problem. There is not the slightest evidence that green house gases are being lowered by these agreements, or that even the rate of rise is slowing. Because, of course, they’re not. In fact they continue to go up at an accelerated rate. The reasons are many, but chief among them is the fact that none of the agreements address the prime cause of global warming, human population growth, combined with our lifestyle. China maybe the biggest emitter of GH gasses, but on a per capita basis we (the u.s.) are still number one. As our population, driven almost exclusively by immigrants and their offspring, surges to over 500 million in the next half century, the empty suits can wear out a thousand pens signing agreements, but nothing will get better until we face facts. And the fact is, without addressing human population growth, nothing will be saved or get better.”

Reply 6 Recommended

The Dark Days of Donald Trump – by Gail Collins – The New York Times

“Do you think Donald Trump has given up?

It was a little strange to see him campaigning Wednesday in that critical swing state of … Washington, D.C.“He’s coming to open a hotel that’s under budget and ahead of schedule,” campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, insisting it was all a part of the presidential sales pitch.Blitzer noted mildly that the hotel has actually been open for some time.“This is the grand official opening,” Conway insisted.

Aren’t you beginning to feel a little sympathy for Kellyanne Conway? Until recently she was just that terrible Trump talking head, but now she seems like a woman laboring valiantly under an impossible burden.“Saturday Night Live” recently did a parody of her day off, in which Kellyanne eagerly tried to do yoga or cook dinner, but kept getting dragged back to CNN to recalibrate some new awful tweet from her candidate. (“Of course Mr. Trump thinks that Mexicans can read, and actually what he wants them to read the most is Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 missing emails.”)

Conway herself once admitted that the campaign was behind, but then had to spend days trying to pedal back from the obvious. In — yes! — another CNN interview, she said that she had reprimanded Trump for sounding as if he thought they were going to lose. And that Trump responded: “O.K., honey, then we’ll win.” That was probably her best moment of the day, and it was an “O.K., honey.” ”

Source: The Dark Days of Donald Trump – The New York Times

The Corrosive Election and the New Abnormal – by Linda Greenhouse – The New York Times

“The only presidential inauguration I’ve attended was Bill Clinton’s first, on Jan. 20, 1993. I took two spare tickets from the office, and brought my 7-year-old daughter, bundled against the cold like a little abominable snowman and old enough, I figured, for a civics lesson.These were not V.I.P. seats, and we were far back on the National Mall, the proceedings barely visible. What I remember most vividly was what occurred immediately after the ceremony’s conclusion. A helicopter took off noisily from somewhere near the Capitol. I wasn’t sure at first what was happening, but word passed through the crowd that it was Marine One, carrying away the now ex-president George H. W. Bush and his wife, Barbara. Where were they headed — Kennebunkport? Houston? The destination didn’t matter. The helicopter receding into the winter sky was a richly evocative symbol, power transferring peacefully before our eyes from the defeated candidate to the victorious one, the old president to the new. I told my daughter: This is how democracy works.

That image came to mind last week during the third presidential debate. I watched the debate on a hotel television in the company of fellow participants in a conference I was attending. All were lawyers. As the debate proceeded, the group’s attention occasionally drifted, and we chatted a bit. But at Donald Trump’s refusal to say that he would abide by the election results, everyone snapped to attention. Someone had to break the stunned silence, so as the only one in the room with journalism experience, it fell to me to state the obvious: “That’s the headline.” ”

Source: The Corrosive Election and the New Abnormal – The New York Times

This is excellent and forceful writing, thank you, Linda Greenhouse.

The comments are also very good. I only wish they all used the comedy rule of “Yes, and……”, (which some of us learned of on the new Steven Colbert show), and gave you the praise your work deserves, before adding more to the ugly narrative of legal misconduct and darkness you carefully bring to light.
I have little to add to your piece.but,

Since you cover the law, I would like your thoughts on amending the 14th amendment, so that foreigners can’t fly to LA to give birth to their babies, who are automatically US citizens. It also disturbs me that illegal aliens have children here, who are also immediately US citizens. As a ardent environmentalist, who supports negative population growth, I feel we have to have a sophisticated immigration policy, that includes the ending of the “born here, get in free” card.

Don’t Lock ’Em Up. Give ’Em a Chance to Quit Drugs. – The New York Times

“The United States once had a less punitive approach to addiction. But beginning in the 1970s, its presidents, exploiting fears of criminality that white voters associated with African-Americans, initiated a war on drugs that expanded drug policing and prosecutions. This shifted money away from treatment toward interdiction and incarceration, and prodded the country to embrace a “lock-’em-up” mentality.

Belatedly, those policies have come in for a reckoning. Politicians from both parties now acknowledge that too many people have been put away for too long; in any given year, nearly a third of those who enter prison are admitted for drug crimes. Racial inequities are stark. While studies suggest that black Americans are less likely than whites to sell drugs, they are 3.6 times more likely to be arrested on suspicion of drug dealing.

It was evidence of those jarring racial disparities that led Seattle officials to consider the LEAD approach. Lisa Daugaard, now the director of the nonprofit Public Defender Association, spent years waging a legal battle against the city’s police force over racially discriminatory patterns in drug arrests. At the time, Seattle’s population was 8 percent African-American. Research suggested that white people dominated the city’s drug trade. Yet 67 percent of those picked up for serious drug offenses (other than marijuana) were black. “It was an extreme situation,” she said.”

Source: Don’t Lock ’Em Up. Give ’Em a Chance to Quit Drugs. – The New York Times

David Lindsay

Hamden, CT Pending Approval

Though many prison guard unions and the Ku Klux Klan scream every time I write this, it is time to at least decriminalize all addictive drugs. Better, we we would also legalize these markets, to stop the armed gangs created to protect the illegal markets from undermining communities and governments. Addiction is known to be a disease, it is time to return to treating addiction as a disease and not a crime.

Important article, some good comments, like:

Meredith NYC 10 hours ago

“Good that parts of USA are progressing into the 21st century. We need frequent updates of whatever progress there is. Here’s one of many foreign role models:

Per huff post article– Portugal Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary of Decriminalizing Drugs.
“In 2001, Portugal decriminalized the possession of small amounts of all illicit substances. Having small amounts of drugs is no longer a criminal offense. It’s still against the rules; it just won’t get you thrown in jail or prison. It’s a civil offense — like a ticket. Portugal continues to punish sales and trafficking of illicit substances.

The results are in: decreased youth drug use, falling overdose and HIV/AIDS rates, less crime, reduced criminal justice expenditures, greater access to drug treatment, and safer and healthier communities.”

Why was Portugal able to put this program through?”

Reply 39 Recommended

Radical Inquiry

Humantown, World Government 3 hours ago

“I am a board-certified psychiatrist.
The fix is to legalize all drugs (for adults), just as Portugal has done.
Think for yourself?”