Ironically, some of the very same attributes which make me so ideally suited for pursuing my stated goal of ‘saving the planet,’ have also been responsible for holding me back. For example, if I wasn’t such a perfectionist, and if I wasn’t so prolifically ideative, then it would not have taken as many years as it has, merely to get to the point where I am at now.
On Labor Day, 2005, I completed the process of writing the content for this website. Two leaves of absence from work (May 2004 to Nov. 2004, and May 2005 to Feb. 2006) gave me the time necessary, both to compose the content, and transcribe it from that first typed version to Microsoft Word. A major time-consuming effort was still required for proofreading, making revisions, and fact-checking. But when I went back to working full-time, it was difficult to find time for any of this. Months would pass by without being able to make any headway. In fact, it was not until July, 2008, that I began writing this Afterword section that you are reading now. And all the while, I would keep finding more new info that I would like to incorporate into one page or another. This brings to mind the sentiment expressed by Leonardo da Vinci, about how (I’m paraphrasing): “A work is never finished, it is only abandoned.” To get this website up, I had to abandon the desire to get everything “just right.” Though this website is far from perfect, I hope it will at least be sufficient enough to help me acquire the starting capital needed to be able to begin to move ahead with implementing the various ideas and strategies I would like to see take shape.
Also, while acquiring funding is indeed my top priority, if you think you could help in some other, non-philanthropic capacity, don’t hesitate to contact me. Remember when I mentioned on the About me page, about how “virtually every word, every sentence, every paragraph,” of that one particular chapter in Gary Null’s book Who Are You, Really?, I strongly identify with? Well, I am particularly interested in hearing from people who, similarly, feel that same way, but regarding this website. If that is the case – if you have read and very strongly identify with the sentiments expressed on this website – then please, most definitely, I would love to hear from you!
In a nutshell, here is how I would describe the type of individual I am most particularly seeking to collaborate with: (a) you are intensely devoted to the cause (saving the planet); (b) you have the intellect to be up to the task; (c) you understand the depth of the ecological crises we’re up against; (d) and you understand that the broad, all-encompassing nature of the problems, necessitates finding and implementing deep, substantive, lifestyle-changing solutions. Additionally — while this should go without saying, it’s perhaps worth stating — with all due respect, this invitation does not extend to those who believe in such things as: psychics, dowsing, seances, astrology, extraterrestrial abductions, god(s), afterlife, reincarnation, ghosts, angels, the devil, Heaven, Hell, and the like.
And (in addition to the above), you would probably also agree with the following (postulates): we are endangering the integrity of the biosphere; each and every one of us is contributing to this; this is a very serious situation; something has to be done; we have to change our lifestyle; we have to make sacrifices; these changes and sacrifices are necessary and worthwhile; because the prospects look very grim; it is going to take a massive effort on the part of the entire world community; we have to recognize the fact that so much of what we do, when multiplied by over seven billion people (and that number is ever-increasing), has some impact on the biosphere; we also have to stop thinking in small, shallow ways, and think more holistically.
Finally, I now turn my attention toward addressing the very people this website was primarily created for: philanthropists. In contrast to Thomas Edison, who stated “Genius is 1 percent inspiration, and 99 percent perspiration,” and in contrast with Albert Einstein, who, when asked what set him apart, answered “I have no special talents, it’s only that I am passionately curious,” this is instead how I prefer explaining why I believe I am far ahead of most people concerning the unique insights I have regarding how best to go about saving the planet: If, as Aristotle opined, “excellence is not an act, but a habit,” then perhaps it has been my lifelong preoccupation with addressing that challenging and formidable “How do we save the planet?” riddle, that has in turn allowed me to gain the most insight, regarding what most needs to be done, to accomplish that.
Let me state, unequivocally, that I believe I am one of the most (if not the most) uniquely qualified people you are ever likely to find – to philanthropically back – if you are truly concerned about “saving the planet.” I know of no other person I would deem more qualified in that regard. Such a person, or persons, may indeed exist; but I don’t know of any. I realize that may sound grandiose, but that claim is based on a tremendous amount of evidence. From all that I have seen, heard, and read (in books, magazines, newspapers, television, radio, conversations I’ve had, or have overheard) – all throughout my entire life – I have never met, or learned of, another living person, anywhere, that I felt – based upon what I was hearing, or reading – had altogether my vision, and level of understanding, concerning (a) the extent to which we are jeopardizing the biosphere, and (b) what precisely needs to be done, to best attempt to remedy that situation. And this scope encompasses everyone from friends, relatives, neighbors, coworkers, peers, classmates, teachers, professors, acquaintances and strangers, to presidents, presidential candidates, vice-presidents, senators, senatorial candidates, governors, radio talk show hosts, columnists, speakers, authors and television interviewers.
I do not know of anyone, anywhere, that I would feel comfortable solely resting my hopes on, where saving the planet is concerned — or who comes anywhere close to enabling me sleep better at night, knowing that they’re on the case.
Without exaggeration, I am not sure I can recall a single conversation, in my entire life, where the other person I was talking to was completely simpatico with me, concerning environmentalism (for lack of a better word). What invariably happens, is either (a) they make statements demonstrating that we are not in agreement on one or more key points, or (b) if we are in agreement on enough key points, there is a lack of interest in participating in any substantive effort to change the world (on a grand scale). Perhaps they lack the mental capacity to participate in that way. Or perhaps they are just far more interested in enjoying life (more interested in savoring the planet, than saving the planet). Perhaps they simply believe they are too old to play a significant role in that regard. Perhaps they believe it’s completely hopeless (a lost cause). Perhaps, for whatever reason, they just aren’t too concerned. Maybe they have an undying faith in man’s ingenuity. Sometimes people tell me that they don’t believe humanity will begin to take action until a large-enough, cataclysmic event forces their hand. Some feel more comfortable advocating for nuclear power as an interim solution, rather than drilling home the message that we simply have to live within our means and tighten our energy belts. There is increasingly more and more talk about adapting to the change that is coming, rather than change the harmful habits that are causing the problems. It goes on and on and on … It’s as if we’re running as fast as we can, but in the wrong direction.
Here are some additional obstacles or experiences I have encountered in my quest to find people on my same mental wavelength, concerning environmentalism: many people don’t have much interest in subjects that require deep thought (the focus today is instead on things like sports, video games, movies, travel, entertainment, Facebook, Twitter, celebrity gossip, and so forth); or if they do, while the interest might be there, the focus and attention span isn’t; or everything has to come down to a guffaw or a punchline; very frequently, what happens is someone drags the subject of God-worship into the conversation, and starts quoting from the Bible; even when I hear an author of some impressively-titled book, dealing with environmentalism, being interviewed, they make it sound as if, despite the fact the situation is quite alarming, we can nevertheless take relatively simple steps to accomplish what needs to be done. In other words: although the problems are enormous and complex, the solutions are simple and easy. (If that’s the case, then why even write the book in the first place?) One guest that I heard being interviewed on a radio show, spoke extremely eloquently on the subject of environmentalism, but then, literally (I’m not kidding!), in the very next breath, started talking about “flying saucers,” space aliens living among us, and “suppressed technology that would allow us to travel faster than the speed of light.” The dearth of substantive, quality conversation, on the broad, deep topic of environmentalism (for lack of a better word), is deeply chilling, and never ceases to amaze me.
Again, if you are truly and deeply concerned about “saving the planet,” the bottom line is this: I don’t know of anyone else (on this entire planet), who is at my level, or as uniquely qualified, for accomplishing just that. But let me expand on that. I am not just talking about not knowing of anyone else being at my same level of eco-consciousness, regarding my concerns about the environment, and our corresponding duty to posterity. No, it goes much deeper than that. For example: let us say that “a” represents someone having a very high degree of eco-consciousness. Someone can have “a”, but lack “b” (desire to change the world). Someone can have both “a” and “b”, but lack “c” (belief that one person, or that they in particular, can play a significant role in accomplishing that). Someone can have “a”, “b” and “c”, but lack “d” (willingness to make a commitment to doing just that – to commit themselves towards working to save the planet). Someone could have all of these, but lack “e” (willingness to make a very deep commitment towards working to ‘save the planet’ – there is a substantial difference, for example, between someone willing to commit a few hours each weekend [to this cause], versus someone willing to commit the bulk of each day). Someone could have all of these, but not “f” (a vision of how to change the world). They could have all of these, but lack “g” (a comprehensive vision of how to change the world). They can even have all of the above, but not “h” (a correct, comprehensive vision of how to change the world). This list is anything but complete, but you get the point. When I say I see no one out there “at my level” (or use similar such wordage), I am referring to having “the complete package” (so to speak), and that is why I see myself as singularly the best person to throw your support behind, if you are truly and very deeply concerned about saving this planet.
Now, the ball is in your court — it’s up to you. For years, I have been chomping at the bit and raring to go (eager to set my plans in motion); but without funding, I cannot move forward. I am ready and willing to do my part. But you must do yours. You must be willing to take that first step … to plant a seed. That philanthropic gift capital I seek, will allow my big, world-changing ideas to finally have an opportunity to germinate.
I sincerely thank you for taking the time to read through my website, and to give it the attention that I believe it deserves. Please contact me if you believe you might be able to help, would like to set up an appointment (to meet), or have any questions.
Paul A. Reinicke
***Below, I have created a new blog. It wasn’t an easy decision (“I already have three blogs, do I really want to add another?”). But the deciding factor was this: Donald J. Trump is president; and for the next 4-8 years, the media spotlight will be shining on him. I hate the idea of having to “contaminate” this website with posts about him and his people and what they are doing. (So much of it is ridiculous nonsense — or worse!) Therefore, what I will do is sequester some of those Trump-related posts, here, so that they don’t interfere with the message and mission of my website.
Posts will probably be relatively short and infrequent.
Obviously, Donald J. Trump isn’t the only junk news-generating topic out there grabbing headlines. (By “junk news,” I’m not referring to the journalism or news-reporting, but rather the subject matter itself — e.g., the latest mind-numbingly dumb thing Trump has said or done.) So anything else that I decide to post about, that I similarly consider sequester-worthy (or wish to give less attention to), I will post here, as well.***
Content may be edited or deleted after the posting date.
11/27/17 An article in yesterday’s New York Times (“In America’s Heartland, the Voice of Hate Next Door / Seeking Acceptance In the Mainstream”), by reporter Richard Fausset, focused in on one “alt-right” Trump supporter. His name? Tony Hovater.
This same article was the subject of The Times’s “Inside the Times” (“The Story Behind the Story”) column — which appears daily, on page two of the paper’s main news section. This particular column, “A White Nationalist, Yes. But Why?,” was written by the same reporter, Richard Fausset. He begins by stating: “There is a hole at the heart of my story about Tony Hovater, the white nationalist and Nazi sympathizer.” What is that hole? Fausset doesn’t believe he sufficiently answered his own question: “Why did this man — intelligent, socially adroit and raised middle class amid the relatively well-integrated environments of United States military bases — gravitate toward the furthest extremes of American political discourse?”
Further down, Fausset writes: “After I had filed an early version of the article, an editor at The Times told me he felt like the question had not been sufficiently addressed. So I went back to Mr. Hovater in search of answers. I still don’t think I really found them.”
Trying to get inside the mind of someone else and determine how they arrived at pivotal junctures in their life, is no simple task, even for a skilled and experienced journalist like Fausset. What might seem momentarily within easy reach, could prove to be as elusive as trying to catch a housefly with your bare hands. As Fausset states: “Sometimes a soul, and its shape, remain obscure to both writer and reader.”
Nevertheless, it was an interesting read. Very disturbing — to say the least — but interesting.
In nine days, Time magazine will reveal its 2017 “Person of the Year.” As pointed out on Wikipedia, Time chooses “a person, a group, an idea, or an object that ‘for better or worse … has done the most to influence the events of the year.’ ” Who or what will receive that distinction this year? Might it be the gene-editing tool CRISPR? Perhaps. It certainly won’t be Trump, not two years in a row. Climate Change would be a brilliant choice. “Endangered Earth” was once chosen (almost thirty years ago — demonstrating how rare it is for that subject to be on our radar).
But this year it could also be Steve Bannon, or the “alt-right,” or the wave of nationalism/nativism that we saw ripple throughout the globe (a creeping shadow of much darker things, yet to come?). We’ll just have to wait and see. Only Time will tell.
11/12/17 Where do I even begin? Oh, I’ve got it! In the final paragraph of an opinion piece by Linda Greenhouse in today’s New York Times (“The Worrisome Future of Abortion Rights,” in the Sunday Review section), she uses the phrase “a symptom of a world turned upside down.” (And yes, it has to do with Trump, how’d you guess?) Actually, the piece isn’t so much about Trump as it is about what he and his people — and the people his presidency has empowered — are doing to chip away at reproductive rights in this country (their ultimate goal, of course, is to reverse Roe vs. Wade). This immediately caught my attention because in my new American Atheist magazine ad — which I believe is out now, if I’m not mistaken — I’ve gone with wording which reflects that sentiment. My ad states: “If you thing things are upside down now” [here, you need to flip the magazine upside down, to be able to read the rest] / “just wait another four years.” This is in reference to Trump, of course; but it’s not just him. He’s nominated, appointed and empowered many individuals; and this has set in motion a chain of events that will change the course of history.
I wasn’t sure about the wording. Since a year has already gone by, shouldn’t it be “just wait another three years?” But he could also be re-elected. (Just today, in a blue state, I overheard someone, some distance away, say, in reference to Trump: “He’s the best f***ing thing to happen to this country!”) So he could be there for eight years. (And personally, I’m not thrilled about the thought of him being impeached, since Pence is just as scary — only a different flavor of scary.
Something I saw in the paper on Thursday is also worth noting — since we now live in an upside down world, where, for example, people who don’t think man can affect the climate, are today running the show in Washington. This article, published in the Times (Kai Schultz, Hari Kumar and Jeffrey Gettleman, “India Closes 4,000 Schools Over Dirty Air” Nov. 9) this past Thursday, reports that “a toxic cloud” descended on New Delhi, “India’s capital, delaying flights and trains, causing coughs, headaches and even highway pileups, and prompting Indian officials on Wednesday to take the unprecedented step of closing 4,000 schools for nearly a week.” Air in New Delhi is “notoriously noxious,” it states in the article, but this time it reached “levels nearly 30 times what the World Health Organization considers safe.”
The article reports that “Manish Sisodia, the deputy chief minister of Delhi State, said he was driving to a meeting Wednesday morning when he passed a school bus and saw two children throwing up out of the window.” He said he found this “shocking” and immediately decided to close the schools.
Try telling people in New Delhi that man can’t affect the climate. See what they say. Upside down!
Trump also stated this past week that he asked Russia’s President Vladimir V. Putin multiple times whether he meddled in our elections, and guess what? He denied it! In other news … Jack Ruby claims he never shot Lee Harvey Oswald. Upside down!
A week ago, the congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment was released. And surprise! Researchers have once again confirmed there is substantial evidence to link climate change to anthropogenic causes. But will this make a difference? Let me quote from an article that appeared recently in the Times on this very subject (Brad Plumer, “A Climate Report That Changes Minds? Don’t Bet on It” Nov. 5):
But there is little reason to think that yet another scientific report will fundamentally shift attitudes on global warming — either among policymakers or the public at large. Researchers have found again and again that attitudes are shaped far more profoundly by political ideology or by comfort with proposed solutions to global warming than they are by the science itself.
Will it sway Trump’s thinking? Of course not. Upside down!
Are you ready for more upside down stuff? In today’s New York Times there is an editorial that literally takes up the entire page. It is titled “President Trump, Please Read The Constitution.” (Good luck with that, by the way — you probably couldn’t get Trump to read a postage stamp.) The editorial makes some fine points; and it matches up Trump’s actual statements with the text of our Constitution itself. Thirteen powerful examples are provided, including one which I believe hasn’t gotten nearly enough attention, considering he appears to be advocating for the killing of innocent people: “The other thing with the terrorists, you have to take out their families.” (He stated this on December 2, 2015.) Upside down!
And Kathleen Hartnett White was recently in the news. Remember her? She has in the past described belief in global warming as “a kind of paganism.” So what happened with her? She applied for a job at the EPA, and was told to get lost, right? No. Clearly, you haven’t been paying attention. This is bizarro world we’re now living in. White has been chosen by the Trump administration to run the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Also, as reported in a recent New York Times article (Lisa Friedman, “Environment Nominees Draw Democrats’ Fire” Nov. 9, 2917), “Andrew R. Wheeler, a lobbyist for Murray Energy, which is owned by Robert E. Murray, an Appalachian coal mining magnate and major backer of President Trump, has been nominated for deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.” Draining the swamp? No, upside down!
That article I referenced at the beginning of this post (“The Worrisome Future of Abortion Rights”) concerns a topic that will not go away any time soon. It will shadow the Trump presidency for the entire length of his presidency. He owes his Election Day Electoral College win to the Right-to-lifers out there, plain and simple. He is beholden to them, big time. And he knows he will need them to win if he decides to run for re-election in 2020.
This topic regarding abortion rights, brings to mind an obituary that was published in Newsday (with a Washington Post byline), over a dozen years ago (“Joseph Coors, 85, Brewer, Activist” Mar. 18, 2003). Joseph Coors Sr. was very active in conservative causes. For example, funding that he provided helped launch the Heritage Foundation, he was a major backer of the John Birch Society, and he also helped found a television network to advance conservative views. It states in the obituary that he helped underwrite Ronald Reagan’s political career, and “became a powerful presence in Washington when Reagan became president in 1981.” It also states that Coors “lobbied for the appointment of James G. Watt as Interior Department secretary.” Watt has often been described as being anti-environmentalist; and he became a controversial figure once appointed.
The final line in the obituary reads: “Besides his brother, survivors include his wife, Anne Coors; five sons; a sister; 27 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.” Whoa, now do the math. Imagine what it would be like if every person on this planet had dozens of grandchildren. Scary! No doubt about it, abortion should be an absolute right! That’s just a fact.
10/11/17 And the insanity continues. About which, Tennessee’s Republican senator Bob Corker issued a great counter-punch Tweet: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.” He also stated in a Sunday interview with The New York Times: “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him.”
Michelle Goldberg, in her Oct. 10, 2017 New York Times op-ed (“Corker Told the Truth About Trump. Now He Should Act on It.”), states that Jerry Taylor, president of the Niskanen Center (a libertarian think tank), “is in frequent contact with anti-Trump Republicans, and he senses a growing sense of urgency among them. ‘Having an unstable narcissist who is ignorant of politics, policy and foreign affairs with the nuclear codes has probably turned them white as a sheet,’ he [Taylor] said.”
Within the past few days, amid reports that Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex W. Tillerson, has referred to him as “a moron,” Trump challenged Tillerson to compare their IQ tests. But when MENSA offered to administer the test (something I would LOVE to see), Trump retracted his offer so fast I’m surprised he didn’t get whiplash. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump was only joking. Ha Ha. Good one. Was that the joke?
Since Sanders shared something funny, I’ll now share something funny as well. And this is a true story. When I was very young — twelve?, I’m guessing — I was talking with my parents about presidential campaigns, and they started laughing. Why were they laughing? I had mistakenly thought that before you can run for president, you had to first take some sort test — after all, isn’t that how you advance from one grade level, to the next? By taking tests? Well, now I know better. But I still think it’s not such a bad idea.
Are you ready for more? Okay. Three days ago, The New York Times published an editorial (“Presidential Etiquette Guide, Part II” Oct. 9, 2017) in which it lists 38 new examples of presidential behavior we’ve witnessed since their last “periodic report on the changing standards for presidential behavior.” This current list, the editorial states, “is meant to ensure that … congressional Republicans never forget what they now condone in a president.” Here are some of those examples that they list, concerning what, “if you are the president, you may now” do (all of these, I quote directly from the Times editorial):
call for the firing of “son of a bitch” athletes who choose to exercise their right to free speech; pick nominees to the federal bench who call a siting Supreme Court justice a “judicial prostitute” and refer to transgender children as part of “Satan’s plan”; spend one of every three days as president visiting at least one of your own properties; say nothing when a foreign leader’s bodyguards brutally attack peaceful protesters in the streets of Washington, D.C.; welcome into the Oval Office a man who threatened to assassinate your predecessor, whom he called a “subhuman mongrel,” and who referred to your political opponent as a “worthless bitch”; grant temporary White House press credentials to a website that, among other things, claims that Sept. 11 was an “inside job” and that the massacre of 20 schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., was a hoax; continue to repeat, with admiration, a false story about an American military general committing war crimes; run an administration whose ethical standards have, in the words of the federal government’s top ethics enforcer, made the United States “close to a laughingstock”; tell a lie, on average, more than five times a day
This is just nine of the 38 examples they catalog in their editorial. (These examples I’ve cite above are not in the bullet point format the Times used in their editorial. I’ve used semi-colons instead.)
And regarding that first example that I’ve listed, I think it’s utterly ridiculous to walk out of a football game or curse players that “take a knee” (as a mild form of protest and show of solidarity). The first African slave ships arrived in the North American colony of Jamesport, Virginia, in 1619. Slavery ended in 1863 (with the Emancipation Proclamation). If African-Americans had to endure 264 years of slavery (in what is now the United States), plus over 100 years of Jim Crow laws and such (plus what’s going on even to this very day — as this president’s actions attest to), I think spectators in football stadiums should be able to endure 90 seconds of silent, peaceful protest, without having a cow. Francis Scott Key himself — the man who composed our national anthem — owned slaves and defended the institution of slavery his entire life. In fact, just look at that third stanza of “The Star-Spangled Banner” — I think that might be reason enough to protest the song (regardless of whether those lines actually appear in our national anthem or not).
Finally, take a quick peek at the “Controversies” section of the Wikipedia article about Donald Trump’s father, Fred Trump. Where was he on Memorial Day, 1927? And what was he wearing?
9/20/17 Yesterday morning, as I was having breakfast and getting ready for work, I listened to Trump’s speech at the United Nations, over the kitchen radio. For me, what was most notable was what was not said. Not a single, solitary word about what we’re doing to the planet. Nothing about a warming planet, or rising sea levels, melting ice caps, loss of earth’s biodiversity, deforestation, pollution of our land, water and air, desertification, rampant overdevelopment, overpopulation, our profligate consumerism and obsessive focus on perpetual economic growth. Nothing. And of course there is nothing surprising about that. It’s surreal, in a sense. But, also not surprising.
I’ll end with this quotation I found on the internet several weeks ago. It’s food for thought:
Stopping Trump is a short-term solution. The long-term solution — and it will be more difficult — is fixing the educational system that has created so many people ignorant enough to vote for Trump. — Andy Borowitz
That’s a simplistic point; but it also holds a lot of truth. It is not “the” long-term solution we need. But it is one of the many things we need to be thinking about.
7/16/17 It isn’t often that something in the news makes me laugh. (Particularly if it relates to Trump.) But I tip my hat to Maureen Dowd. She did manage to elicit a chuckle from me, as I read her column in today’s Sunday edition of the New York Times (“Game of Trump,” op-ed).
It was an interesting column overall. But my favorite part might be near the end of the piece, where Dowd writes that Trump “bragged about his cunning” in bringing up the topic of the election hacking by Russia, in his meeting with Putin, not once, but twice; and, in Trump’s own words, the second time it was “in a totally different way.” Dowd continues:
Wow. That must have really outfoxed the lethal former K.G.B. agent.
Indeed. (You can’t make this stuff up!)
6/26/17 The entire back page of the Sunday Review section from yesterday’s edition of The New York Times, contains an “op-chart” titled “Trump’s Lies.” The byline credits David Leonhardt and Stuart A. Thompson.
Underneath a “Trump Told Public Lies or Falsehoods Every Day for His First 40 Days” subheading, it states: “The quotes surrounding this article use the conservative standard of demonstrably false statements. By that standard, Trump told a public lie on at least 20 of his first 40 days as president.” Furthermore, Leonhardt and Thompson also state that Trump has “said something untrue” on at least 74 of his first 113 days in office.
Encircling the piece are many examples of these falsehoods. It begins with one from Jan. 21, and then continues right on through to June 21. Here is one example. The March 7 entry quotes Trump as stating “122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!” But the editorial notation in parenthesis correctively states that “113 of them were released by President George W. Bush.”
I can appreciate the painstaking work that must have gone into putting all of this together. It’s quite extensive. [Source acknowledgment is provided as follows: Sources: Politifact; Factcheck.org; The Washington Post Fact Checker; The Toronto Star.]
5/14/17 Back in March, I learned of a Wall St. Journal editorial (published online, “A President’s Credibility / Trump’s falsehoods are eroding public trust, at home and abroad.” March 21, 2017) that I wanted to take a quick look at, but the Journal’s website only shows three sentences, then tells you to either subscribe or sign in to view the rest of it. Strange. You would think they would want to make their editorials as accessible as possible. What did I do? I did what most people do when they have no time and face such annoyances; I left their website.
But you shouldn’t have that problem finding the editorial I will next cite. In today’s Sunday edition of The New York Times, there appears an editorial titled “Oval Office Etiquette: A G.O.P. Guide” (an online version, published a day earlier, goes instead by this title: “The Republican Guide to Presidential Behavior”). This editorial lists, in bullet point format, thirty-four things that “If you are the president, you may freely” do. This includes the following: “call the media ‘the enemy of the American people’ “; “demand personal loyalty from the F.B.I director”; “vacation at one of your private residences nearly every weekend”; “criticize specific businesses for dropping your family members’ products”; “review and discuss highly sensitive intelligence in a restaurant, and allow the Army officer carrying the ‘nuclear football’ to be photographed and identified by name”; and “promote family businesses on federal government websites.” That is less than one-fifth of the items that are included in the editorial. And we’re only just a bit beyond the Trump administration’s first 100 days in office.
Something else that caught my attention, in today’s Times, was Robert Frank’s “Inside Wealth” column, in the Sunday Business section (“In Washington, the Wealthiest Settle In / Sales of upscale homes and goods rising with the Trump Administration in town”). In it, he states that there are 34 billionaires within a 25-mile radius of Washington; but then we also learn that 2,049 of the D.C.-area’s residents are worth $30 million or more. One 25-year-old is described as walking into a car dealership and plunking down $340,000 in cash for an Aston Martin Vanquish.
What goes through my head every time I read something like that? Here’s what goes through my head every time I read something like that: [while shaking my head disapprovingly] “He could’ve bought a perfectly good car for under forty grand, and gifted $300,000 to someone like me [okay, me], and slept comfortably every night thereafter knowing that because of his generosity, someone was working tirelessly, day and night, to save the planet.” Doesn’t that make so much more sense? But of course no one ever thinks that way; and meanwhile, things get worse and worse, and our prospects for saving the planet get bleaker and bleaker. And all the while, I continue seeing in the paper more and more examples of someone buying a watch for $300,000, or a painting for several million, or gifting five or ten or twenty million dollars to fund education, disease research, or to help the poor or less fortunate. Environmental concerns are hardly ever on our radar. But that is where our focus needs to be. It is a matter of life and death, for our species and for the planet.
5/4/17 Attorney General Jeff Sessions — a man who never should have been elevated to that position in the first place — has suggested we designate the violent MS-13 gang a terrorist organization. Fine. But what would you call Trump and his gang of Republicans who have eviscerated the Environmental Protection Agency? (Thus diminishing our already slim chance of saving this perilously polluted and plundered planet.)
Nine years ago, a book titled Becoming Good Ancestors (by David Ehrenfeld) was published. I didn’t like that title then; and I still don’t like that title now. Why? Because it sets the bar far too low. If we are to be successful in terms of saving the planet, we need to aim towards becoming exemplary ancestors. This Trump administration only makes that task seem even more Sisyphean.
Additionally, two articles in Newsday, yesterday, also caught my attention. One had to do with Trump; the other, didn’t. But I’ll mention them both.
Lane Filler, a member of Newsday’s editorial board, had a great line in his opinion column (“In the minefield with President Trump / There’s no defending his mortifying behavior, but his defenders try and try” May 3, 2017) ( which I am truncating here): “Trump no more understands history than a giant panda understands particle physics.” This was in response to something Trump recently said about former U.S. President Andrew Jackson.
The other article (The Associated Press, “NY bill would ban declawing of cats” May 3, 2017), reports on a proposed New York State law that would ban cat declawing (or the severing of tendons) for non-medical reasons. Australia and several European countries, according to the article, already have bans on cat declawing. Jennifer Conrad, a California veterinarian who founded Paw Project, a group pushing for the ban, is quoted in the article as stating: “It’s the amputation of a cat’s toes to protect a couch. None of us went to vet school to protect couches.” I did a quick online search and found that there is a 56 minute film starring Conrad, titled The Paw Project. Of the 71 reviews on Amazon.com, 97% give it 5 stars and 3% give it 4 stars. That’s quite impressive. It’s probably a very persuasive film.
4/30/17 In a November 6, 2016, Home page blog post, I shared a quotation from a Newsday article in which Ron Reagan, Jr., touched upon some of the differences in opinion that existed between himself and his father, Ronald Reagan.
In that same article (Karen Freifeld, “First Family Reunion” Mar. 13, 1989), he also spoke about how he wasn’t shy about openly disagreeing with his father, even though the White House was often populated with people who were: “There’s a tremendous urge, especially in the White House, to be a rooting gallery and never voice any dissent. I just refused to go along with that. I don’t think it does any good, least of all for the person who’s president or First Lady. You’ve got to have some real feedback.”
That quotation came rushing to mind as I reflected on the latest news events. How much less likely are those who are roaming the halls of the White House today, to voice dissent, when we have a president who is so thin-skinned and unable to take or hear criticism — even when in jest — that he’s now become the first president to have skipped the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, in all the 34 years since it’s morphed into becoming something of a roast. (Though it began in 1921, only since 1983 has it taken on the quality of being like a roast of the sitting president and his administration.)
Indeed, it has been widely speculated that it was because of the humiliating roasting that he received at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, that he decided to run for president in the first place.
Frontline produced a documentary on this very subject. You can watch it and decide for yourself. [“Inside the Night President Obama Took On Donald Trump / The Choice 2016 / FRONTLINE” was published on the “FRONTLINE PBS / Official” YouTube channel.]
3/14/17 It was in the news several days ago that the new EPA head Scott Pruitt, in an interview, disputed that carbon dioxide was playing a major role in the global warming that we are seeing on this planet. In a sense, this is nothing new. We know how Pruitt and Trump and many of the key people Trump surrounds himself with, feel on that issue. And it’s a shame having to waste precious time on this nonsense. But that is the reality we are faced with today. President Richard M. Nixon had the foresight to create an Environmental Protection Agency (on December 2, 1970). But now, forty-six years later — and at a time when its importance couldn’t be any more evident — we find ourselves with a Republican president who would like the EPA to become extinct. It could even be argued, that, in essence, Trump would like to see it become the Economy Protection Agency. (And, doesn’t that sound better than calling it the Fossil Fuel Protection Agency?).
As Pruitt’s predecessor at the EPA stated in response, “The world of science is about empirical evidence, not beliefs. When it comes to climate change, the evidence is robust and overwhelmingly clear that the cost of inaction is unacceptably high.”
This too, is nothing new. We’ve known for quite some time that the need for decisive action is overdue. In fact, let me cite a brief news article (“Climate contrast in memos” Dec. 4, 2015) that appeared in Newsday, over two years ago (the byline is The Washington Post). Here is how the news article begins:
The memos, stamped “confidential” and kept under wraps for years, portray a White House eager to assert U.S. leadership on climate change. Global warming will have “profound consequences,” one document warns, and the United States “cannot wait” until all scientific questions are resolved before taking action. The source of the memos: Not Obama’s White House, but policy advisers to former President George H. W. Bush.
(The article states that these documents from the Bush administration were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.) That’s right, that was from an administration that first came to power twenty-eight years ago. And now, four administrations later, we find ourselves with an administration content to do less than nothing to address climate change. The Trump team is actually in the process of rolling back rules and regulations that are already in place to address that issue. That’s insane. But that’s just the beginning. I predict a lot more nonsense like this will be unfolding over the course of the next four years.
I’m not even sure whether they actually believe such nonsense. It might be reminiscent of how big tobacco companies knew cigarette smoking causes cancer, but nevertheless, for decades kept denying that was true. Maybe they know; but don’t care, because they know they won’t be alive a hundred years from now. Maybe they know; but don’t care, because they care more about increasing their wealth and influence and holding onto their positions of power. Maybe they know; but don’t care, because they believe that man’s ingenuity can solve any problem. Maybe they know; but don’t care to admit it for a variety of reasons …
Several years ago, I posed a question to a Christian Republican, who didn’t believe that man could be responsible for warming the planet. (He thought it “arrogant” to think man could affect the climate; but evidently not arrogant to believe that this entire universe was “Created” just for our species, and for our species alone.) I’ll also note that this man holds an esteemed position, in a highly laudable profession. Here is the question I posed: “Let’s say that I’m Bill Gates; and you’re my friend. And I said to you, “Look, you’re my friend. And I’ve got all this money. I can fund any study I want. But I really want to convince you that global warming and climate change are real; and that the causes are anthropogenic. So please tell me, very specifically, what exactly would you need to see, what would it take to convince you that global warming has anthropogenic causes? Just tell me. And I’ll fund those studies.”
He thought for several seconds, and then said (I’m paraphrasing): “That’s a very good question. It really is. It’s a good question. And it deserves an answer. I’m going to have to think about it. But I’m going to get back to you on that. It’s a good question, and it deserves an answer.”
Well, guess what? He never got back to me on that. And eventually he moved on.
I was a little surprised when he said he would get back to me. Because in a sense, it’s a rhetorical question. In a sense, what I’m really asking, is “There are probably literally tons of studies supporting that proposition. Why do you dispute it? What more do you need to see? What would it take to convince you?”
Another individual I addressed that question to — and this person holds an even more esteemed, lofty position (and is a Republican) — stated definitively that no study could ever get him to change his mind regarding that. I think that says it all.
Too bad Trump wasn’t asked in the presidential debates, what, specifically (beyond what has already been published in scientific journals), it would take to convince him that man is warming the planet and causing climate change?
2/28/17 This Trump presidency has me feeling like a gerbil on an exercise wheel, running faster and faster and getting nowhere. As soon as I post about something terrible Trump said or did, wham, there’s another terrible thing that’s he or his administration has said or done, and another, and another, and another, … And this is just the beginning.
After my last post (which I completed well after midnight, so it was more the 27th than the 26th), I was kicking myself for leaving out the part about Trump’s use of the phrase “enemy of the people.” I meant to include mention of that in the post. It’s such a dangerous terminology for a president (whose tweets have already elicited death threats) to employ even once, and yet it may potentially become one of his new pet phrases.
And guess what? The New York Times yesterday had a cover story on this very thing. The title of the article is “Phrase With a Venomous Past Now Rattles American Politics,” and it was written by Andrew Higgins. Three paragraphs in, Higgins poses the question “Why would the elected leader of a democratic nation embrace a label that, after the death of Stalin, even the Soviet Union found to be too freighted with sinister connotations?” My suspicion is that Stephen Bannon is actually the best person to direct that question to. But in any case, it’s an interesting article. It traces the historical roots of the phrase back to the French Revolution and the subsequent Reign of Terror.
There are several other articles in yesterday’s New York Times worth mentioning. “To Battle Fake News, A Newscast Airs It” (by Andrew E. Kramer), is about a weekly “news” broadcast reporting on the latest “fake news.” Based in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, StopFake News’s mission is debunking fake news stories. The article left me with the impression that all if not most of the fake news seems to be originating from within Russia.
Remember that bizarre reference Trump made regarding Sweden? (Which prompted one of its former Prime Ministers [Carl Bildt] to tweet: “What has he been smoking?”) Well, page twelve of yesterday’s New York Times had an article (Liam Stack and Christina Anderson, “Sweden’s Defense and National Security Adviser? “We Don’t Know This Guy,’ “), that began by stating: “A man described as a Swedish defense and national security adviser appeared on Fox News last week to defend President Trump’s claim that criminal immigrants are wreaking havoc in Sweden. But according to court records and Swedish officials, the man, identified as Nils Bildt, has a criminal record in the United States and no ties to Sweden’s security establishment.” It also states in the article that “according to public records, Mr. Bildt was born Nils Trolling … and went by that name as recently as May.” [According to the article, Carl Bildt told The Washington Post that he and Nils Bildt are not related.]
On the next-to-last page of yesterday’s New York Times, there is an op-ed by their columnist Charles M. Blow, which addresses Trump’s dishonesty and attacks against the news media. The piece, titled “Trump, Archenemy of Truth,” has one line in particular that I would like to quote: “The press is the light that makes the roaches scatter.” Blow also states in the op-ed that “a free, fearless, adversarial, in-your-face press is the best friend a democracy can have.”
Let me also quote from a letter that appeared in Newsday, yesterday. The letter was written by Robert K. Sweeney, who, according to an editor’s note, “is a former member of the New York Assembly, and was chairman of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee from 2007 through 2014.” This is how the letter begins:
Environmentalists are right to be concerned about the goings-on in Washington and what it means for all Americans [“Senate confirms EPA foe Scott Pruitt to lead agency,” News, Feb. 18].
It’s not just about Pruitt and his antipathy toward all things environmental. Last Dec. 1, the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, which has oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency, retweeted a Breitbart News article titled “Global Temperatures Plunge. Icy Silence from Climate Alarmists,” a fiction unsupported by any facts. And, some Republicans in Congress are pushing legislation to eliminate the EPA.
First, I would like to point out that according to Wikipedia, Breitbart News “has published a number of falsehoods and conspiracy theories, as well as intentionally misleading stories.” And yet, despite this, they were allowed to attend that White House briefing last week (see the 2/26/2017 blog post below), while The New York Times and other prominent news organizations were excluded.
Second, Sweeney is absolutely correct in stating that “environmentalists are right to be concerned about” what is going on in Washington right now. It ain’t pretty. Just days ago, in speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, EPA head Scott Pruitt stated that some Obama era environmental regulations will be “rolled back in a very aggressive way,” and possibly within days. About two weeks before that, Republicans were busy trying to weaken the Endangered Species Act. With one Republican senator going so far as to suggest a requirement that for every new species added to the list, one should have to be removed.
France had its Reign of Terror, 1793-1794, and we will have our Reign of Trump 2017-2020. The planet can easily bounce back from a Reign of Terror — our species is highly proficient at increasing its numbers — but recovering from a Reign of Lunacy regarding stewardship of the planet? That is something else, entirely. In my previous post, below, you learned that the betting service Ladbrokes is offering “even odds” that Trump will resign or be removed by impeachment before the end of his term. I can only wish that our odds of saving the planet were looking anywhere near as rosy. The world can ill afford another four years of inaction. Time is running out. (Please see the message at the bottom of this page!)
2/26/17 Last Sunday, after glimpsing over the three op-ed columns appearing on page 11 of The New York Times, including one titled “How Can We Get Rid of Trump” (Nicholas Kristof, Feb. 19, 2017), the thought struck me that our morally bankrupt president might retaliate somehow.
In that piece, Kristof points out that the betting service Ladbrokes is offering “even odds that Trump will resign or leave office through impeachment before his term ends.” Even odds means if you bet $100 (and you’re right), you get back $200. Those are remarkable odds for such a wager. What is Kristof’s opinion?: “I’d say we’re stuck with Trump for four years.”
Still, the article goes into some detail explaining how, constitutionally, using Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, a sitting president can be removed from power by a simple majority cabinet vote. Then, if the ousted president objects, two-thirds of both houses of congress must approve, or else the President regains office. Interesting.
Kristof states in the op-ed that there is already “broad concern that Trump is both: A) unfit for office, and B) dangerously unstable.” And he even describes how “One pro-American leader in a foreign country called me up the other day and skipped the preliminaries, starting with: ‘What the [expletive] is wrong with your country?’ ”
Five days after his column appeared, guess what happened? Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, held a briefing in his spacious office, that specifically excluded The New York Times, the Guardian, the BBC, CNN, the Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed News and Politico. At this briefing, so there could be no mistake, Spicer even stated “We’re going to aggressively push back.”
Trump also specifically singled out the Times and CNN in a tweet in which he called them “A great danger to our country,” demonstrating that he is a great danger to freedom of the press — and a very poor example for the rest of the world, where many members of the press lose their lives every year doing their job and providing a service that they believe in.
What transpired also appears to justify the concern many have had regarding potential conflicts of interest that could arise involving Trump or members of his cabinet. For my Feb. 20 post, below, I first reviewed a transcript of the Vatican conference (posted on the website of one of the event’s attending press, Buzzfeed News) which Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, spoke at; and according to the transcript, Bannon stated that Breitbart News (which he ran at the time) was the third-largest conservative news site, with “a bigger global reach” than Fox News. So isn’t that a highly unethical action to take to be holding back some of the biggest and most widely-cited news organizations in the world, while giving preferential treatment to the conservative news media outlets, including Breitbart News, a news organization Bannon once ran?
One encouraging facet to this news story is that The Associated Press, The Washington Post and Time magazine, all skipped the event, in an obvious show of solidarity. Bravo! I have the utmost respect for that selfless act. It demonstrates commendable journalistic integrity.
Incidentally, this same Sunday Review section had an interesting opinion piece, written by Richard A. Friedman, titled “Diagnosing the President.” And, while I only read part of it, I liked how Jessica Nutik Zitter’s “First, Sex Ed. Then Death Ed.,” makes a strong case for adding a course to the high school curriculum about the final stage of life: death. What a terrific idea — and what a very important topic — I couldn’t agree more. Zitter, a doctor who practices both critical and palliative care medicine at a hospital in Oakland, Calif., ends her op-ed by pointing out that death “will eventually affect us all. The sooner we start talking about it, the better.”
2/23/17 At his last press conference, President Trump said his administration is “running like a fine-tuned machine.” But (a) it’s simply not true, and (b) even if it were, the Titanic was a “fine-tuned machine.”
2/20/17 On February 12, 2017, The New York Times published an article by Jason Horowitz, titled “Fascists Too Lax For a Philosopher Cited by Bannon.” I would like to briefly talk about that article; and this newly-created blog space is now the ideal venue in which to do that.
The article begins by providing some evidence to suggest that Stephen K. Bannon’s passing reference to the late Julius Evola, in a speech at a 2014 Vatican conference that he was invited to speak at, may have been a veiled dog whistle for his “alt-right” Breitbart audience (the “alt-right” helped get Trump elected).
Incidentally, the title of a recent Time magazine feature article (Feb. 13, 2017), asks the question: “Is Steve Bannon the Second Most Powerful Man in the World?”
Getting back to The Times article, Horowitz writes that Evola is regarded as “a leading proponent of Traditionalism, a worldview popular in far-right and alternative religious circles that believes progress and equality are poisonous illusions.”
In the article, Horowitz further states that according to Prof. Richard Drake, of the University of Montana (who wrote about Evola in his book The Revolutionary Mystique and Terrorism in Contemporary Italy), “Evola’s ideal order was based on ‘hierarchy, caste, monarchy, race, myth, religion and ritual.’ ” It’s almost hard to imagine anything more completely the opposite of what I believe in. But wait, it gets worse.
“Evola eventually broke with Mussolini and the Italian Fascists because he considered them overly tame and corrupted by compromise,” Horowitz writes, in an excerpt that explains how the article gets its title. “Instead he preferred the Nazi SS officers, seeing in them something closer to a mythic ideal. They also shared his anti-Semitism.”
All in all, this is a very interesting article. I just wish that they had published it before Election Day. Then, maybe the outcome might have been different.
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