America’s Most Violent Terrorists: White Christians

Say “terrorist attack” to us and, like Rudy Giuliani asked how he’s feeling, we immediately respond “Nine-eleven!” But in the 14 years since 9-11, it’s not Al Qaeda operative who have been killing us. We have met the enemy, as Al Capp told us so long ago, and he is us. (US Navy/Wikipedia photo.)

Say “terrorist attack” to us and, like Rudy Giuliani asked how he’s feeling, we immediately respond “Nine-eleven!” But in the 14 years since 9/11, it’s not Al Qaeda operative who have been killing us. We have met the enemy, as Walt Kelly told us so long ago, and he is us. (US Navy/Wikipedia photo.)

“The domestic radical right has killed more people than radical Islam since 9/11 in the United States, without a doubt.” Those are  the words of Ryan Lenz, principal writer of a Southern Poverty Law Center study of violent “terrorist” attacks that occurred in the U.S. between 2009 and 2015. In a classic example of confusing ideologues with facts, the SPLC study found that while US security officials were focused exclusively on protecting against foreign organizations of Islamic extremists, Americans were steadily being picked off by home-grown, Christian lone wolves. Continue reading

When Life Gives You Yemens

What happens when Yemenis have had enough, as they did in 2011. It’s not about which son of Allah you follow, or whether you get to vote; it’s about food and water and fuel. Always. (Wikipedia Photo)

What happens when Yemenis have had enough, as they did in 2011. It’s not about which son of Allah you follow, or whether you get to vote; it’s about food and water and fuel. Always. (Wikipedia Photo)

When the nation of Yemen was put on a gurney and trundled down the hall from the global intensive-care unit to hospice, it was in pretty bad shape. The United States runs the ICU, of course, and has only two treatments to offer, whatever the symptoms presented: massive injections of cash, or invasion surgery. The outcomes are universally terrible, and have been since about 1950, but no one seems able to think of another approach. That may have something to do with the quality of diagnosis: a patient who is starving and dehydrated is unlikely to respond well to either a high-pressure currency infusion or a brain transplant.   Continue reading

Mid-Term Message: Abandon Hope

Okay, we won. Now would everybody please go home and leave us alone. We’ll let you know if we need you again. (Photo by Jayu/Flickr)

Okay, we won. Now would everybody please go home and leave us alone. We’ll let you know if we need you again. (Photo by Jayu/Flickr)

Bull beat brains just about everywhere in America on election day last Tuesday, (with an exception or two), and anyone who still harbors the hope that the American Dream is alive, that the future will be better than the past, simply was not paying attention. People who profess not to believe in climate change have been given power over our national response to this rising threat to our continued existence; people who owe their souls to industrialists have been given responsibility for protecting ordinary citizens from the depredations of industry. We the passengers of the Titanic just elected a crew that doesn’t believe in icebergs. Continue reading

Junkie Nation

Are antidepressants depressing the vote in America? (Wikipedia Photo)

Are antidepressants depressing the vote in America? (Wikipedia Photo)

I was standing outside a small-town courthouse, chatting with a clutch of town and county officials, on a fall evening a few years ago, when the conversation turned to their constituents. We were on a break from a sparsely attended candidates’ forum inside, and I asked them what was on the voters’ minds that year. After a little bit of this and a little bit of that, they reached sudden and enthusiastic consensus (after making sure that no one from the local paper was in earshot): in general, the voters don’t give a shit.

Now this is at a level of politics that big money has not been able to lock down, simply because in a race for a few thousand votes to get elected to the county commission, there’s nothing on which to spend big money. At this level, votes decide, but the voters don’t care. The only way to get a crowd at a political debate is to open with Beyonce.  Continue reading

Former Treasury Secretary Sees Climate Crash Coming

Henry Paulson (right) speaks at his nomination as Secretary of the Treasury. He lived through one crash. Now he sees another coming.

Henry Paulson (right) speaks at his nomination as Secretary of the Treasury. He lived through one crash. Now he sees another coming.

The man who was at the center of the global financial crash of 2008 — Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson — knows a thing or two about crisis. And he sees another one bearing down on us. He wrote about it in a hair-on-fire op-ed piece in the New York Times last weekend. The headline: The Coming Climate Crash. And he’s a Republican! Continue reading

The Fall of the House of Cantor Cards

Congressman Eric Cantor (R-VA), heir to the speakership, forgot the rule: dance with the ones what brung ya.

Congressman Eric Cantor (R-VA), heir to the speakership, forgot the rule: dance with the ones what brung ya.

The punditry that has arisen since the primary-election defeat of Eric Cantor, Republican Majority Leader (and Speaker-in-Waiting) of the House of Representatives, has mostly subtracted from the sum total of human knowledge. So, naturally, I want to contribute. (At least no trees were killed in the promulgation of this analysis.) Since a stunned David Brat, economics professor and novice candidate, acknowledged his victory over Cantor last Tuesday and immediately went into hiding, the Chattering Class has been having convulsions. Continue reading

The End of (Environmental) History

Of course it's empty. Forbes says there's nothing more to learn.

Of course it’s empty. Forbes says there’s nothing more to learn.

Forbes Magazine, assisted by the Heritage Foundation, has declared an end to the environmental movement; not for the reason you might expect Forbes to embrace, but because, and I quote, “we are all environmentalists now.” Likewise it has declared an end to worry about the effects of climate change, because, and again I quote, “many people see global warming as a problem for the future, not the present.” (This is optimism of the same stripe as the man who, having fallen 50 floors from the roof of a 60-story skyscraper, says to himself “Well, nothing bad has happened yet.”)

The motivation for this amazing piece of op-ed propaganda is perfectly clear. Forbes exists to pander to gazillionaires who made or inherited their money from enormous industrial enterprises. The Heritage Foundation exists to help ultra-conservatives spray their political emissions with a gloss of academic respectability. As we shall see, the shine does nothing to improve the smell. Continue reading

Democratic America is Dead. Say Hello, Oligarchy.

Dollar FlagMany years ago a friend of mine, a long-haul truck driver, was in a terrible accident. He almost died, and when he recovered it was with severe, permanent physical and neurological damage. A year or so after he came home from the hospital his wife told me that she was living with a stranger, whose dark moods, frequent eruptions of anger — even his manner of thinking and speaking — were foreign to her. She still loved him, she supposed, although more and more it seemed to her that she loved the man he had been, not the man he became after the accident. She wondered about her duty to the man he had become.

Many of us feel that way about our country. We loved it once, without reservation. But that was before the accident. Continue reading

Ukraine, etc: Pundits Fiddle While World Burns

Why would anyone go against well armed and armored riot police with a piece of pipe (as here, in Kiev, on December 1)? That is the question. (Wikipedia photo)

Why would anyone go against well armed and armored riot police with a piece of pipe (as here, in Kiev, on December 1)? That is the question. (Wikipedia photo)

Since the Ukraine crisis bloomed into violence three months ago, reporters and analysts have floundered to tuck the bloody, explosive events into a nice narrative we can all be comfortable with. It’s a tug-of-war, we’ve been told, between East and West, between Russia and Europe, between Putin and Obama. (How in the world did this turn out to be Obama’s fault, as well?) Or it’s a resumption of the Cold War, no, it’s a Hot Cold War, no, it’s Soviet Union II.

While they have been thus laboring, the members of the chattering class have been overwhelmed by similar, new rebellions in Venezuela, Thailand, Turkey, Bosnia and Iceland (Yes! Iceland, for crying out loud!) added to the still-simmering uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Iraq and Syria, and the barely-under-control semi-rebellions bubbling in Iran, China, Pakistan, India and Argentina. Not hard to understand why beads of sweat are popping through the makeup of the pundits and politicians who are trying to maintain the not-to-worry, we’ve-seen-all-this-before attitude that will keep us from getting interested. Fact is, we’ve never seen anything like this before. Continue reading

Congress Realizes It Fixed Flood Insurance: Repeal Imminent

Sandy damage

“Yeah, but it’s got a great ocean view. so we’re gonna rebuild. When do I get the check?” Hurricane Sandy took a bite out of this New Jersey house, just like subsidized flood insurance takes a bite out of the federal budget. (Photo by RetroRed/Flickr)

Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, was in a state of high dudgeon, last November, as she pilloried the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at a committee hearing in Washington. He had been dragged before the committee to explain why his Federal Flood Insurance Program was racking up rates for policies on water-soluble buildings in flood-prone coastal and riverine areas. “The harm that has been caused to thousands of people across the country,” she raged, “is just unconscionable.” Director Craig Fugate might be forgiven for being nonplussed. He had raised the rates at the explicit direction of Congress, which just 16 months previously had decided to end the existing flood-insurance madness with the Biggert-Waters Act. Which bears not only a wonderfully punny name for a bill dealing with floods, but the name of its co-sponsor, one Maxine Waters.   Continue reading