About the letter "Want to help the climate? Shop locally:" (June 27) Shopping locally is a good thing, but the worldwide scientific community has made it clear that individual, local, state regional or even the Paris Climate Agreement will be far too little too late (National Academy of Sciences/IPCC). We need national legislation with an international impact, and we need it now,
The National Academy of Sciences says climate change poses “the most immediate and important threat to human survival.” According to Nature, the world’s most highly-cited peer-reviewed science journal, we must “bend the greenhouse-gas emissions curve downwards by 2020” to avert the worst effects of global warming.
Scientific American: “Have We Passed the Point of No Return on Climate Change? Greenhouse Gas Cuts Must Begin Soon or It Could Be Too Late to Halt Global Warming.” We could soon pass the tipping point into irreversible, run-away global warming and not even know it.
Worst-case scenario? All the oceans could boil dry (National Geographic).
We need to tax fossil fuel corporations out of existence and give all that tax money to the taxpayers in equal monthly checks. British Columbia’s done that for eight years and they have the best economy in Canada: lower taxes and energy bills, more jobs and much lower emissions.
They’ve used “carbon fee-and-dividend:” Fossil fuels pay the fee, we get the “dividends” in equal monthly checks. The fee increases annually and so do your dividends. Switch to solar/wind and you don’t pay the fee, but you still get the dividends. You’ll save more every year as they’re now as cheap or cheaper than any fossil fuel (Fortune) and they’ll continue to drop in price as they scale up (Bloomberg). This will create millions of jobs and increase GDP $75-80 billion annually (CitizensClimateLobby.org).
Winners, when they reach the end zone, are supposed to act like they’ve been there before. So why is President Trump still waging war on Hillary Clinton? Why tweet about missing emails and ties to Ukraine when he’s the one inside the White House? Why send press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders before the cameras—nearly nine months after the election—to read what amounted to a multi-count indictment of Trump’s defeated foe?
In this, as he does so often, Trump serves as a magic decoder ring for our seemingly incomprehensible 21st-century politics. With reptilian clarity—hopeless on strategy, but instinctively keen—he seizes on the binary basics of our endless combat: To survive, one must have a foe.
Down deep, Trump surely knows he owes his presidency to Clinton. His vulnerabilities as a candidate were precisely the spots where Clinton was too weak to land a blow. The murkiness of his finances was offset by the shadiness of the Clinton Foundation. Her outrage at Trump’s boorish behavior rang false given her infinite tolerance for her husband’s. If Trump’s first impulse was always to dodge the truth, well, where had we seen that before? Clinton had to collapse in public before she was willing to admit to a mild case of pneumonia. Her story about her emails had more holes than Trump National Golf Club. As for the empty slogans of his campaign (“Build that wall”), they were hardly less substantial than hers (“Stronger together”). His ignorance of policy and history demanded a campaign about nothing. She gave it to him.
So it happened that one of the most unpopular candidates in our history won his narrow victory. Voters in the key states of the electoral college disliked his opponent a little bit more.
Democrats looking ahead to 2018 might want to keep this history in mind. Approval ratings are a mirage. They ask the public to compare the president to some theoretical standard or ideal. Do you approve or disapprove of the way the president is doing his job? Compared to what? Lost in a desert of ballot-box ineptitude, the Democrats are crawling toward the false oasis of Trump’s low ratings—as though blind to the fact that Trump was never popular to begin with, and still he won.
Or rather, he survived the election, a feat managed by making it a series of head-to-head combats, against Low-Energy Jeb, then L’il Marco, then Lyin’ Ted and finally Crooked Hillary. Trump’s continuing focus on Clinton serves to remind all the people who held their noses while voting for him that elections aren’t about theoretical standards or ideals. They are about this one or that one. Too often, American voters feel like they’re dining at Hell’s Café, where the menu offers two dishes only: boiled work boots or roadkill tartare.
To win next year, Democrats will need to offer something more appetizing than the plate they served up in 2016. But their recently unveiled effort, called “A Better Deal,” ain’t it. While the nation is hurtling into the future, they’ve rolled out a recipe from the past, yet another “deal” to go with the Fair, New and Square deals of yesteryear. As for the vapid corporation-bashing at the core of the document, it feels like a ride in the DeLorean with Marty McFly, the timer on the Flux Capacitor set for 1901. What failed for William Jennings Bryan is unlikely to succeed today.
Behind the antique facade lay the same old policies. The $15-an-hour minimum wage, which may already be killing jobs where progressives have started adopting it. The $1 trillion infrastructure pledge that merely echoes Trump’s own pie-in-the-sky promise. The vague gesture of concern about rebuilding “rural America”—which Charles E. Schumer and Nancy Pelosi keep tabs on by jetting over it at 38,000 feet. And so on.
If America wanted this agenda, the Democrats would not be out of power from statehouse to White House. You can’t beat Trump by coining more vacuous slogans than his, or launching flimsier policy balloons. You can’t conquer his straw men with an army of your own. Trump’s opponents will only beat him with something new and better than the candidates, tactics and policies of the past.
These won’t be found in minority caucus rooms or the studios of MSNBC. To win a head-to-head against Trump, a party of tomorrow must turn its focus from Washington to the country—where it is going and how best to get there. Forget about Republicans. Forget, even, about Trump. Have an honest, hopeful conversation with America.
He’ll never see it coming.
WASHINGTON — A future trivia question and historical footnote, the spectacular 10-day flameout of Anthony Scaramucci qualifies as the most entertaining episode yet of the ongoing reality show that is the Trump presidency. (Working title: “The Pompadours of 1600 Pennsylvania.”) But even as the cocksure sycophant’s gobsmacking spectacle stole the show, something of real importance took place a bit lower on the radar.
At five separate junctures, the sinews of our democracy held against the careening recklessness of this presidency. Consequently, Donald Trump’s worst week proved a particularly fine hour for American democracy:
(1) The military says no to Trump on the transgender ban.
Well, not directly — that’s insubordination — but with rather elegant circumspection. The president tweeted out a total ban on transgender people serving in the military. It came practically out of nowhere. The military brass, not consulted, was not amused. Defense Secretary James Mattis, in the middle of a six-month review of the issue, was reportedly appalled.
What was done? Nothing. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs simply declared that a tweet is not an order. Until he receives a formal command and develops new guidelines, the tweet will be ignored.
In other words, the military told the commander in chief to go jump in a lake. Generally speaking, this is not a healthy state of affairs in a nation of civilian control. It does carry a whiff of insubordination. But under a president so uniquely impulsive and chronically irrational, a certain vigilance, even prickliness, on the part of the military is to be welcomed.
The brass framed their inaction as a matter of procedure. But the refusal carried with it a reminder of institutional prerogatives. In this case, the military offered resistance to mere whimsy. Next time, it could be resistance to unlawfulness.
(2) The Senate saves Sessions.
Trump’s relentless public humiliation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions was clearly intended to get him to resign. He didn’t, in part because of increasing support from Congress. Sessions’ former colleagues came out strongly in his defense and some openly criticized the president’s shabby treatment of his first and most fervent senatorial supporter.
Indeed, Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, warned Trump not to fire Sessions because he wouldn’t get another attorney general — the committee’s entire 2017 schedule was set and there would be no hearings to approve a new AG. That was a finger to the eye of the president. Every once in a while, the Senate seems to remember that it is a coequal branch.
(3) Senate Republicans reject the Obamacare repeal.
The causes here are multiple, most having nothing to do with Trump. Republicans are deeply divided on the proper role of government in health care. This division is compounded by the sea change in public opinion as, over seven years, Obamacare has become part of the fabric of American medicine, and health care has come to be seen as a right rather than a commodity.
Nonetheless, the stunning Senate rejection of repeal was also a pointed rejection of Trump’s health care hectoring. And a show of senatorial disdain for Trump craving a personal legislative “win” on an issue about whose policy choices he knew nothing and cared less.
(4) The Boy Scouts protest.
In a rebuke not as earthshaking but still telling, the chief executive of the Boy Scouts found it necessary to apologize for the president’s speech last week to their quadrennial jamboree. It was a wildly inappropriate confection, at once whining, self-referential, partisan and political.
How do you blow a speech to Boy Scouts? No merit badge for the big guy.
(5) The police chiefs chide.
In an address to law enforcement officials, Trump gave a wink and a nod to cops roughing up suspects. Several police chiefs subsequently reprimanded Trump for encouraging police brutality — a mild form, perhaps, but brutality still.
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it was all a joke. Nonsense. It was an ugly sentiment, expressed coyly enough to be waved away as humor but with the thuggish undertone of a man who, heckled at a campaign rally, once said approvingly that in the old days “guys like that” would “be carried out on a stretcher.”
Whatever your substantive position on the various issues involved above, we should all be grateful that from the generals to the Scouts, from the senators to the cops, the institutions of both political and civil society are holding up well.
Trump is a systemic stress test. The results are good, thus far.