I’m writing this column in the immediate aftermath of attending the Colorado Environmental Film Festival. I was only able to watch 20 or so of the 90-plus films featured during the sixteen 2-hour sessions, but I plan to watch others this week. (You can access all the films at www.CEFF.netfor $75, which gives you seven days to view any collection you log into by Sunday, March 5.)
Many of these films raised my consciousness regarding different issues facing humanity and America, which got me thinking about the term “Woke,” which is applied negatively against those of us with similar awareness of certain issues. In the parlance of the MAGA folks, I’m part of the “Woke mob.”
Obviously, the term is adapted from “awake” or “awakened.” One thing for which we can thank the previous administration is that the division it spawned awakened people like me to portions of our history (and our present) of which we may have been less aware. I’m thinking of books like The 1619 Projectand Caste, which taught me things I did not know about our nation’s sad legacy of enslavement and racism, which are at the heart of America’s “great experiment.” For example, I didn’t realize that the 13th amendment abolished slavery, “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,” an exception that was exploited throughout the former confederate states by convicting Blacks of petty or false crimes and imprisoning them so that the prisons could lease them to plantation owners to continue their enslavement.
Yes, I’m awake to many aspects of our history to which the MAGA mob is (and would like to remain) unconscious. I’m awake to the environmental injustice suffered by the minority communities close to the Suncor plant in north Denver, which was the topic of a CEFF film. I’m awake to the broken promise of “40 Acres and a Mule” which underlies the calls for reparations to descendants of the enslaved.
Rosaline is a 60-year-old Floridian who hopes
she doesn’t get seriously ill because she’d be wiped out by the increase in her
already burdensome medical debt. She has no insurance, and won’t qualify for
Medicare for another 5 years.
Ron DeSantis is just fine with this. Cruelty is his trademark.
pandemic, Congress appropriated billions to help states expand their Medicaid
programs. That money is coming to an end this year, meaning Florida — which
refused to expand Medicaid with the federal subsides offered by the Affordable
Care Act — is set to throw another 2 million or so residents off their only
possible source of health insurance.
DeSantis refuses to expand Medicaid, even though 93 percent of the cost is covered with money from Washington, DC. It’s
the principle of the thing, apparently: he’s one of 11 red state governors who
believes that working poor people simply shouldn’t get health coverage. After
all, they didn’t have the good sense to be born into a wealthy family!
Michael, 30, lives in Orlando and has asthma,
but running his little business buying and selling used furniture hasn’t earned
him enough to cover his medical bills and to pay rent. He recently got an
eviction notice, telling the Florida
Health Justice Project:
given a list of homeless shelters to choose from but I hope it doesn’t come to
Ron DeSantis is just fine with this. Cruelty is his trademark.
hate, bigotry, and cruelty are the four cardinal points of fascism. Compassion
and concern for the greater good, for the poor and weak, for the victims of
fate and accident have no place in the fascist world.
and political observers have been predicting that America would get our very
own Mussolini ever since the days of Barry Goldwater. And there’s been no
shortage of candidates: bribe-taking Nixon; Central American fascist-loving
Reagan; Gitmo torturing and war-lying Bush; and, of course, Trump.
But with Ron DeSantis, we may finally be facing an all-American
politician who has Mussolini’s guile, ruthlessness, and willingness to see
people die to advance his political career, all while being smart and educated
enough to avoid the easily satirized buffoonishness of Trump.
was a famously short man who strutted with his muscular chest pushed out and
his chin jutted forward, just like DeSantis, who Trump says is musclebound, likes to do.
were socially awkward, craved power, lacked empathy, displayed casual cruelty, sucked up to the wealthiest men in the nation, and
demonized opposition politicians — literally calling or implying their fellow
citizens are “the enemy” (a favorite trick of Hitler and Orbán, as well) — to
encourage their followers to support them or entertain the rhetoric of violence
and threats of violence to achieve political ends.
Miriam, a single parent of two young children,
discovered a lump in her breast but postponed visiting the doctor for months
because she had no health insurance with her job as a housekeeper.
she realized the potential gravity of her situation.
needed to live to be there for my children,” she said.
treatment through the charity ward of a hospital, but even that treatment came
with a cost of $2,183. She slipped behind in the $200 monthly payments when her
job vanished with the pandemic and now she’s struggling to pay the $1783 she
still owes in co-payments from her treatments. She’s been sent to collection
and is living in fear of what’s next when the court finally comes after her.
Ron DeSantis is just fine with this. Cruelty is his trademark.
Washington, in his Farewell Address, warned us of the possible rise of
politicians like DeSantis who would suggest other Americans are enemies of the
nation’s values, who would exaggerate policy differences in war-like terms, and
who would ascribe the most evil of motives and intentions to simple political
alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of
revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has
perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.”
wasn’t just that calling other politicians enemies or attributing evil
motivations to them produced dissension and could tear a society apart,
although those concerns were at the top of Washington’s mind.
He also knew that such rhetoric was the platform from which a
literal strongman could arise in America, destroying the democracy he’d fought
the Revolutionary War to create:
this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism,” he told the
nation. “The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of
men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and
sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more
fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his
own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.”
warlike approach to politics, Washington said, could only lead in one
agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles
the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and
rhetoric, Washington argued, produces:
not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into
a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.”
225 years since George Washington uttered those words. And now we’re here.
Hipolito, the father of four, is worried about
his life’s partner, the mother of their children.
wife has been in pain for weeks now but we can’t afford to find out why,”
Hipolito told the Florida
Health Justice Project. “I swear, I’m very afraid. She is pale and
suffering every day.”
that his wife hasn’t visited the doctor because their family can’t afford the
expense when they must also house, feed, and clothe their kids on his job as a
Ron DeSantis is just fine with this. Cruelty is his trademark.
black men for voting, terrifying them and ruining their lives while making sure
they all get paraded in chains before the cameras.
public school teachers with prison for simply teaching history.
about medical science regarding vaccines to suck up to the Trump base,
resulting in fewer Floridians being protected from a disease that is killing
literally hundreds of Americans every day.
rhetoric that feeds bigotry and hate against gay, lesbian, and trans people.
the college board so they strip the Black Lives Matter movement out of their
advanced placement African-American Studies curriculum.
asylum-seekers to get them on a plane to Martha’s Vineyard as a stunt to
elevate his own political fortunes.
Ron DeSantis is just fine with all of this. Cruelty is his
the health and safety of his state’s citizens, DeSantis led Florida into a
veritable Covid Armageddon, letting (as of January 16th) 84,176 of his citizens die from the disease.
As former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CBS’ Face
let the virus spread largely unchecked in terms of personal mitigation. People
weren't wearing masks. They weren't encouraged to wear masks. Vaccination was
encouraged for the elderly population, but not widely… So they made policy
choices, and the consequence was an infection that largely engulfed most parts
of the state.”
orgy of death and disease, at the end of 2021 about 12 percent of Florida’s
population — almost 2.6 million — still lacked any form of medical insurance
because of DeSantis’ refusal to expand Medicaid for low-income people.
And now as
many as 2 million more Floridians will join the ranks of the uninsured in the
DeSantis is just fine with this. Cruelty is his trademark.
This is today's Hartmann Report, published by Substack:
Hairdryer Climate Mathematics Revealed
Our hairdryer math gets really bizarre when we apply it to global warming
By THOM HARTMANN
people know that a hairdryer draws about as much power as your average modern
outlet will give it — typically around 1000 watts or, at 110 volts, just shy of
10 amps. (Plug in and turn on two hairdryers from the same outlet and you’ll
usually blow a circuit breaker: most homes max out at 15 or 20 amp circuits.)
If those numbers are gibberish to you, hang on: it’ll all have
meaning in a moment, particularly when I get to the really shocking part about
climate change and hairdryers.
recently listening to a rightwing radio talk show host trashing electric cars
and the need for them (he was also denying climate change) and he went into
this rant about how if everybody in America bought an electric car, charging
them would “take down the entire country’s power grid.”
is, to be charitable, BS. But since we all know what a hairdryer is and have,
at least, a sense for how much power one typically uses — the equivalent of ten
100-watt light bulbs — let’s convert an electric car’s power usage into
electric car using a 110 volt home charger pulls about the same amount of
electricity when it’s charging as does a hairdryer: between 800 and 1200 watts,
or 8 to 12 amps, with an average of 10 amps or around 1000 watts per hour (one
So, charging your car is about the same as running a hairdryer,
our new unit of measurement.
average electric car travels 100 miles on around 30 kilowatts
(30,000 watts or 30 “hairdryer-hours”) of electricity (Tesla Model 3 only uses
25, the Chevy Bolt 29), while the average driver in America travels around 1000 miles a month or 33 miles
a day: roughly 10 kilowatts or 10 hairdryer hours a day to cover those 33
average driver charging their car overnight for ten hours (to replenish that 10
kilowatts of electricity to travel 33 miles) will use the same amount of
electricity as running a single hairdryer for 10 hours.
First off, you can see how silly it is to argue it would “take
down the grid” if every family in America were to turn on a single hairdryer in
their home for 10 hours every night, the equivalent of everybody recharging 33
miles worth of driving every day.
Particularly because most of that charging is done overnight,
when electric demand is lower than normal.
average cost of electricity in the US, by the way, is $.10 per kilowatt hour, or ten cents per
“hairdryer hour.” So, simple math suggests it costs about $3 to drive 100 miles
— 30 “hairdryer hours” worth of electricity x 10 cents per hour — in the
average electric car. For comparison, in the average 25 mpg gas-powered car that same 100
miles would consume 4 gallons of gasoline, costing around $16 at four dollars a
But our hairdryer math gets really bizarre when we apply it to
isn’t warming because we’re all running hairdryers or even cars or home
furnaces; it’s warming because the greenhouse gasses we’re pouring into the
generating electricity, heating our homes, and driving our gas-powered cars are
acting like a giant blanket, trapping heat from the sun in the atmosphere.
In other words, we are not warming the Earth (at least not
significantly) with the heat we’re adding: it’s the greenhouse gasses
(principally carbon dioxide) that are warming the Earth by trapping heat
from the sun that would otherwise radiate out into space.
study published this week in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences
found that our oceans — which absorb about 90 percent of the increased heat in
the atmosphere from global warming — took in and held an absolutely massive
amount of solar energy last year.
oceans absorbed about 10 zettajoules more heat in 2022 than in 2021, equivalent
to every person on Earth running 40 hairdryers all day, every day.”
Clearly, all 8 billion of us aren’t anywhere close to
using the power equivalent of 40 hairdryers all day, every day. But that’s the
amount of extra energy our planet is trapping every year at our
current rate of energy consumption because greenhouse gasses are so very
efficient at trapping solar heat.
result, our oceans are warming. And that’s driving “atmospheric rivers,”
derechos, “bomb cyclones,” and a whole variety of other atmospheric phenomenons
we’d never seen or even heard of before the past decade or two.
of global ocean heat content change in the upper 2,000 meters of the ocean,
showing the monthly average by year as compared to the annual average, for
of NOAA NCEI and IAP.
Again, it’s not our energy use that’s driving this. It’s the
carbon waste byproduct — mostly CO2 — of the fossil fuels we’re burning
to create that energy that’s doing most of it.
If we were
simply capturing all our energy from the sun and wind, that blanket of
greenhouse gasses wouldn’t keep growing, the heat wouldn’t continue
accumulating, and our atmosphere might stabilize (assuming — and it’s not a
safe assumption — that we haven’t already passed tipping points that can’t be
1970s it was common knowledge across the scientific community that these
greenhouse gasses — particularly CO2 and methane — were warming our planet. As
you can see from the graphic above, it became irrefutable by the 1990s.
In 1979 President Jimmy Carter pointed to this knowledge and
these trends and took action to try to stop the crisis the world is now
energy crisis is real,” Carter told the nation. “It is worldwide. It is a
clear and present danger to our nation. These are facts and we simply must face
have to say to you now about energy is simple and vitally important.
one: I am tonight setting a clear goal for the energy policy of the United
States. Beginning this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than
we did in 1977 -- never.”
He declared a national crisis that year and proposed legislation
nation’s first solar bank, which will help us achieve the crucial goal of 20
percent of our energy coming from solar power by the year 2000.”
for America and the world, it all came crashing down 43 years ago this month
when the fossil fuel industry’s candidate, Ronald Reagan, replaced Carter,
killed the solar bank and the solar bond program, and even took Carter’s solar
panels off the roof of the White House.
Reagan embraced the fossil fuel industry with gusto (and they
embraced him back), promoting climate deniers like James Watt to head the
Department of the Interior (which oversees oil, gas, and coal drilling and
mining), and Neil Gorsuch’s mother, Anne Gorsuch, to head the EPA.
Simultaneously, the fossil fuel industry began throwing millions
of dollars a year into sellout scientists and climate deniers while pouring
billions around the world into politicians and political campaigns.
result, we actually increased
our consumption of fossil fuels — and the fossil fuel industry made hundreds of
billions in profits. Our World in Data summarizes it well:
cars are a huge step forward because they don’t consume fossil fuels
(transportation is our second-largest producer of greenhouse gasses), but most
of our world’s electricity is still produced using coal, oil, or natural gas.
President Carter tried to save America — and lead the world away
— from the climate disasters that are killing millions of people around the
world every year. The fossil fuel industry and the Republican Party killed his
efforts here, as have “conservative” political parties and the fossil fuel
industry all around the world.
gotten too late to consider this anything other than a potential Armageddon.
reached the crisis point where we can no longer afford anything even close to
business as usual. This is a climate emergency.
in America the Republican Party continues to deny climate change and Republican
politicians do everything they can to block green and renewable fuels, all in
service to a grotesque industry that makes billions in profits every year from
killing our planet.
But we are
not without solutions.
Heating our houses and places of business, for example,
represents our biggest use of fossil fuels. Yet in Urbana Illinois, Vancouver Canada, and across Germany they’re building homes that are so
efficient they can be… wait for it… heated with a single hairdryer.
A new and
better world is possible,
if we can only overcome the money of the fossil fuel industry, the corruption
of a political party, and stop squandering the little remaining time we have
before, if we don’t act, climate disasters overwhelm civilization.
Here's the intro to the article - link to full article is below:
Here’s the thing: Small changes alone won’t save our planet. To keep the Earth from warming above the critical 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) limit, climate action needs to happen at an institutional level. The Washington Post has built a tracker to keep you up to date on all of President’s Biden’s environmental actions.
But that doesn’t mean you should feel helpless, or that your actions aren’t worthwhile. Taking steps to lower your own carbon footprint may help ease your climate anxiety by giving you back some power — and even the smallest of actions will contribute to keeping our planet habitable.
Every vote for Speaker of the House in which the Dems vote for their Democratic leader is a wasted vote.
Recognizing that they're not going to get a Democratic Speaker, they should nominate a Republican that as few as six Republicans would vote for. I suggest Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger, but there are others too!
There are enough Republicans, I'd guess, who are pissed off at those 19 far right members who are blocking Kevin McCarthy, that electing Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger might give them an opportunity to get revenge!
Here's an excerpt. You can subscribe to his daily email on Substack.
In most developed countries homelessness is not a crisis; nobody goes bankrupt because somebody in their family got sick; and jobs pay well enough and have union pensions so people can retire after 30 or 40 years in the workforce and live comfortably for the rest of their lives.
But not in America. Republican politicians have fought tooth-and-nail for generations to prevent any of those things from happening here.
Which raises the question: “Why?”
Why do Republican politicians promote hateful messages and cruel policies? Why are Republican-run states the real “shithole” parts of the US with the highest rates of poverty, violence, early death, disease, and illiteracy?
What motivates these Republican politicians to say they’re for the “little guy” when the only policies they pursue are to cut taxes on the rich, gut unions, destroy public schools, and ship jobs overseas?
It’s not about ideology.
Republicans don’t hate Social Security and Medicare, for example, because they’re afraid that those programs are going to somehow turn America into a “socialist” country. They hate those programs because they’re paid for with tax dollars, and greedy Republicans hate to pay their fair share of taxes.
It’s not about racism, although it often appears that way.
The reason Republicans work so hard to keep Black and Brown people down is because they subscribe to a weird economic theory that “requires” an underclass who do most of the hard work for very little money. Thus, morbidly rich Republican “donors” — being part of the overclass — can reap the benefits of increased corporate profits while keeping their taxes low so they can stuff the extra cash into their money bins.
If their use of racist language and Confederate iconography brings in a few more low-IQ white voters, that’s just icing on the cake. They can use the racist yahoos to get themselves reelected so giant corporations will continue to stuff their SuperPACs with lobbyist cash they can use for their own retirement.
It’s not about charity: they say that the housing and healthcare needs of poor people should be taken care of through “private philanthropy” instead of government.
What they’re really saying is that they don’t want to pay their fair share of taxes to maintain a healthy society. By cutting government support for poor and working-class people, as Anand Giridharadas documents so well, those very average Americans will become more dependent on the noble philanthropists among the billionaire class and less bonded to their own nation’s government.
It’s not about Christianity, although they’re constantly invoking Jesus for everything from pushing the death penalty on women who want to get an abortion to giving bigots the legal right to discriminate against gay, lesbian, and trans people.
Jesus never once mentioned abortion and decried bigotry, but they regularly ignore and even flout His teachings in the Sermon on the Mount and His warnings in Matthew 25. They protect multimillionaire evangelists’ tax-free status, and the preachers repay them by preaching politics from the pulpit.
It’s not about saving Americans from the pandemic or concern for public health.
Trump used the Defense Production Act, for example, to force mostly Brown and Black meatpackers back to work, not to keep Americans safe. As long as the factories are humming and the stock market is rising, a few hundred thousand dead Americans are just collateral damage.
It’s not about conservatism.
They’re not interested in slowly or “cautiously” improving society, or “conserving” anything other than the balances in their own checking accounts. They like to use the word “conservative,” but they’ve rendered it meaningless at best and code for “racist” at worst.
It’s not about making the world a better place.
Republican politicians deny climate change, deregulate industries that poison our air and water, and do everything they can to screw working people out of unions, good wages, and decent benefits. They’re totally down with pesticides that are killing our pollinators while they poison our atmosphere with their carbon emissions, all just to make a buck.
It’s not about having a better-educated electorate or populace.
They’ve spent decades trying to destroy our public education system that was, in the 1960s, the envy of the world. When they did away with free and low-cost college education during the Reagan years they kicked off almost $2 trillion worth of student debt which is preventing people from starting families, opening small businesses, or even buying their first house. But it sure is profitable for Republican-donor bankers!
It isn’t about “culture.”
They do a good-old-boy NASCAR/Duck Dynasty routine to bring in the rubes, but there’s no way Donald Trump would ever invite the average Republican voter with a giant flag and a pickup truck to any of his golf clubs, nor would Ted Cruz want to vacation with one of them or their families in Cancun.
It’s not about “gun violence.”
As long as their investments in weapons manufacturers are profitable and the problem of gun violence is limited to poor- and working-class Americans, Republican politicians don’t give a rat’s ass about “gun safety.” Although they’re happy to use guns as a wedge issue to bring in male voters who are insecure about their own masculinity.
It’s not about “protecting our children.”
The main through-story of the GOP attacks on queer people is that “they’re coming for your kids.” If Republican politicians actually cared about our kids, they’d do something about America being the only countryin the world where gun violence is the leading cause of childhood death.
Republican politicians know that most pedophiles are straight men, but attacking defenseless minorities has been the cheap trick of craven demagogues from the eras of crusades, pogroms, and witch burnings to this day.
It’s not about immigrants taking jobs from working-class Americans.
After “reforming” our immigration laws in 1986, Ronald Reagan stopped enforcing the laws against wealthy white employers hiring people who are here without documentation (even though those employers were — and are — committing a crime by hiring undocumented workers).
As a result, entire industries like construction and meatpacking that once provided good union jobs have been de-unionized, their former American-citizen union employees replaced by low-wage workers without documentation.
And when the spotlight gets shined on those industries, Republicans are more than happy to put poor, hard-working Brown people in jail, but there’s no way they’re ever going to go after wealthy white employers. The Trump administration, for example, kicked off the midterm election year of 2018 by raiding over ninety 7-Eleven stores, hauling off undocumented Brown people for the cameras they invited to the arrests. Not a single employer went to jail, although they were the ones who initiated the “crime.”
Republican politicians don’t give a damn about your job, particularly when they can find somebody else to do it cheaper.
It’s not about putting America or Americans “first.”
Reagan and Bush the Elder negotiated NAFTA and revived the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) so businesses could offshore entire factories. Since the Reagan administration instituted neoliberalism in 1981, over 60,000 factories have left America, taking along with them at least 15 million jobs.
Donald Trump‘s rewrite of NAFTA even gave American companies a huge new tax break if they’d move their factories from America to Mexico.
At the end of the day, all Republican politicians care about is money. Greed is their principle animating force, and what binds them to their morbidly rich donors.
The greed embraced by Republican politicians — and the billionaires and CEOs who fund them — is why average Americans can’t have nice things. It’s why we and our children must walk the tightrope of life without the same safety net other countries — from Canada to Costa Rica, France to Taiwan — offer their citizens.
It doesn’t matter to Republican politicians how many Americans die unnecessarily, how many of our fellow citizens struggle in misery and poverty, how many children’s growth is stunted or bodies and brains are poisoned by industrial and mining waste being poured into our air and rivers.
As long as the money keeps rolling in and the GOP’s billionaire patrons keep paying less than 3 percent in income taxes, greed is all Republican politicians care about or are willing to fight for.