Not with a Bang, or a Whimper. A Tink.

The bridges of Coral Gables, Florida, have become harbingers of the havoc to be wrought by climate change.

The mayor of Coral Gables, Florida believes the world will end not with a bang, but a tink — the sound of an aluminum mast striking a steel girder. That sound, he explained to Bloomberg News the other day, will be the manifestation of climate change that crashes the Florida real estate market and brings on the Apocalypse. Okay, he didn’t say anything about Apocalypse. But his explanation, and the fact that Bloomberg gave it a lot of attention, is striking evidence of the growing awareness of the inevitability and imminence of the ultimate disaster that is climate change. Continue reading

The Flight of the Titanic

This is your captain speaking. Everything is proceeding normally, and we expect to arrive at our destination in about 30 seconds. Thank you for flying with us, and have a nice day.

The pilot of our great metaphorical economic airplane has just been on the PA system — again — to assure us that everything is going great. But it’s getting harder and harder to believe him. He says we’re making a slow and careful ascent to cruising altitude but it’s been hours since takeoff and we’re only 50 feet above ground. Is that normal? Should there be flames erupting from all the engines? With the turbulence, and the violent maneuvers to fly around tall buildings, concentrating on watching the movie and eating our peanuts is almost impossible. And we just heard the captain mutter, unaware that his mic was on, “What the hell does this button do?”

The state of the industrial economy, 2017. Continue reading

In Defense of Sean Spicer

Like a stopped clock, even Sean Spicer can be right once in a while. Probably not twice a day. (Caricature by DonkeyHotey/Flickr)

Sean Spicer is an idiot, of course, in service to a numbskull, and deserves ridicule for much of what he says from his White House podium. But not everything. Piling on — assuming your opponents are always and everywhere wrong about everything — is as ugly when progressives and Democrats do it as when conservatives and Republicans do. Spicer is being pilloried for making a statement the other day that was true and important and deserves consideration. As despicable as Adolf Hitler was,  Spicer said, he “didn’t…sink to using chemical weapons.”

Here, breathe into this paper bag. Settle down. Hear me out. Continue reading

A Syrian Pyramid Scheme?

Soon all of Syria, like Azaz, will be at peace, as long as we don’t run out of bombs. (Wikimedia photo)

My children learned early on that when they made a pronouncement — such as, “Marijuana is actually good for you,” or “teenagers shouldn’t be forced to get up early” — they would get a standard comeback from me: “How do you know that?” Read it in the paper, or saw it on TV? What publication, what channel, by what author or reporter? What were the qualifications of the person making the claim, and what evidence was offered, and what did you think of the quality of the evidence, and the argument? (This parental rigor has had two results: none of my children has spoken to me since the mid-1990s; and they are all skilled critical thinkers.)

So now the pronouncement, not from young children but from the much less mature Trump Administration, is that Syria’s President Assad has used Sarin nerve gas on his own people, again, in his brutal prosecution of the years-long civil war there.  He killed 70 people, we are told, many of them children,in the Syrian village of Khan Sheikhun. The United States must punish him, say the Trumpists, because the last time he did this, in 2013, President Obama let him get away with it. I have a few questions: Continue reading

The Fakest News of All: The Fracking Revolution

Experienced con artists — the people who write clickbait ads, manage political campaigns and shake down old people for what’s left of their life’s savings —  will tell you that people who get conned, want to be conned. Many, many people go through their lives straining to hear the magic words; “You deserve to be rich,” or “Someone has to win the lottery, why not you?” or “cure cancer with one simple trick.” And when they hear those words, they experience the irrational exuberance of long-denied, at-last-confirmed faith, and are likely to do anything they are asked to do by those who have fulfilled the prophecy.

That’s the way it has gone with one of the longest and most successful cons in American history — the New American Oil Revolution, aka the Fracking Revolution. “You deserve all the cheap oil you can use,” the frackers began to croon about a decade ago, “America deserves energy independence.” People who had always wanted those things, and thought they deserved those things, sat up and took notice as the con artists set the hook: “we can have it forever with one simple trick of technology.” Continue reading

A New Administration Takes Control of the House

When you put a dumb slob in charge of the House, it’s amazing how fast things go downhill. (Photo by Ryo Chijiiwa/Flickr)

Almost a week ago now, She Who Must be Obeyed decamped to Florida. That left me, for the first time in ages, in total charge of the government of this House, and gave me a chance to deconstruct the oppressive administrative state under which I had been suffocating.

I began by signing several executive orders repealing long-standing, senseless regulations. It is now okay, for example, to leave the toilet seat in the up position, for the convenience of the male member of the household, so to speak. Eating ice cream directly from the carton, for hours at a time, is perfectly acceptable. Portion control, especially where steaks and french fries are concerned, is a thing of the past. Having a beer for breakfast, or declaring happy hour to be any hour that appears on a clock, are now deregulated practices. If any of these practices have serious side effects, I don’t know about them, and if I don’t know about them they cannot possibly hurt me. Continue reading

Let’s Watch 50 Minutes

In a whole year of covering climate change, the TV networks, all of them combined, didn’t even get to 60 minutes.

On their evening and Sunday news programs during 2016, the four major American television networks devoted 50 minutes of their airtime to covering climate change. No, that’s not 50 minutes a week, or each, it’s all of them combined for the whole year. 50 minutes (according to a study by Media Matters). CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox (which is cable, and does not have an evening newscast but is prominent among Sunday news shows), all of them, all year, produced enough content about climate change to fill a single edition of 60 Minutes.

This was in a year that was, worldwide, the hottest year on record and the third year in a row to set that record; a year that set records in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, sea level, shrinkage of glaciers and sea ice in the Arctic, Greenland and Antarctica; that saw wildfires, tornadoes, floods, storms and droughts of unprecedented numbers and severity; and in which 120 nations gathered in Paris to actually start to think about planning to do something about all this. But 50 minutes was all it took to tell the tales. And that was a decline of 66% from the meager amount of time they spent on the subject in 2015. Continue reading

DEE-FENSE! DEE-FENSE! DEE-FENSE!

The F-35 has single-handedly made America Number One again — at wasting money on weapons that don’t work. But wait there’s more. (Photo by Heath Canjandig/Flickr)

It is entirely fitting and proper that we scrape together $85 billion by defunding federal programs that “show no results” — such as Meals on Wheels, school lunch programs and health care for poor people — and give it to the defense department. Because unlike these loser programs, the defense department always gets results. If you have any doubts at all about this, three examples should suffice to set you straight: Continue reading

Repeal Obamacar and Set Car Insurance Free

See, it’s drivers like this who are ruining the insurance industry under Obamacar. No more, if the Trumpists have their way. (Wikimedia Photo)

The Trump administration is preparing legislation to repeal and replace Obamacar — their name for the automobile insurance industry, which they say is imploding because of President Obama. “The American people are sick of being forced to buy this hated insurance,” said a Trump spokesman who declined to be identified on the grounds that the President is certifiable and could turn on him at any moment.

“The first thing we’ve got to do,” said the spokes individual, “is get rid of the mandate. It is simply not fair to make everyone buy one-size-fits-all insurance. Or to ask someone whose Mercedes is parked in an air conditioned garage most of the time to pay for the mishaps of someone running around and running into things in a 1989 Honda. In the future we’re only going to sell car insurance to people who don’t have car accidents. Besides, people don’t want to have car insurance, they want access to car insurance, and we’re going to give them lots of choices they can’t afford. Because freedom of choice is what matters.” Continue reading

American Cities Fight for Their Lives — Alone

The city of Homer, Alaska, achingly beautiful, is fighting for its life against a relentless enemy. Like several other American cities, it is losing its war. The government in Washington insists it’s not happening.

This American city of 5,000 people is under siege by an implacable enemy. Its food supply has been poisoned, its water supply affected, its main industry crippled, it loses big chunks of its territory every month or so, and several times the enemy has almost severed its only road out. The city has committed all its resources to the fight and regularly pleads with the state government for help, but the state is so besieged by other towns and cities, also under attack, that there is not enough to go around. Appeals to the national government are pointless because in the view of the national government, the enemy does not exist. Continue reading