Climate Change 2017: Challenge and Opportunity

Donald Trump’s Achilles Heel

Casting doubt on science
“Nobody really knows if climate change is real,” president-elect Donald Trump declared in an interview with Chris Wallace for Fox News, Sunday, December 11, 2016.

With this declaration, Mr. Trump not only raised the specter of uncertainty about climate science, he also threw cold water on the Marrakech Agreement, an historically unprecedented commitment of 190 nations at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) to rein in planetary warming. The so-called (COP 22) agreement has generated widespread excitement among climate change activists.  Not only does it demonstrate that implementation of the Paris Agreement (COP 21), promulgated a year earlier in December 2015, is well on its way, it also showed that a coalition of diverse nations with different economies, social systems, and environmental interests could unite in a spirit of cooperation to keep the earth’s temperature below 2 degrees Celsius, or preferably even below 1.5 degrees.

Creating uncertainty and skepticism about science is, of course, a strategy straight out of the tobacco industry’s playbook.  In the 1950s and 60s, to undermine efforts to get people to give up cigarettes and keep tobacco profits rolling in, tobacco companies spread uncertainty about the health effects of smoking, particularly in respect to lung cancer and heart disease.  In similar fashion, Mr. Trump and his supporters by casting doubt on the reality of climate change undermine faith in scientific reports showing that the earth’s atmosphere is changing in measurable and deeply troubling ways:  i.e., warming temperatures, sea levels rising, glacial melting, growing acidification of oceans, prolonged droughts, degrading of wild life habitat. Continue reading “Climate Change 2017: Challenge and Opportunity”

Suck it Up, Electoral College: Do the Right Thing

Our Founding Fathers were not stupid. They knew that it was entirely possible, perhaps even likely, that voters  at some point would put a person in the White House who was totally unsuited to lead the country. (In 2016 , not even a majority of voters voted for winning candidate.) That is why they came up with the idea of an Electoral College, which was set up to be a deliberative body to review the election results and approve the winner if the president-elect did not present a serious and dire threat to the United States.

That time has now arrived. The president-elect is totally unsuited to hold this office and represents a serious and dire threat to our country and to the world.

There were many who admitted that Trump  was outrageous and irresponsible during the campaign but argued that he would mellow  if he were elected  and would make an effort to be presidential. He would move toward the center.  Some of my Republican friends have suggested he would turn out to be another Eisenhower. Aside from a comment or two here and there about not locking up Hillary, Obama being an ok guy, and wanting to bring our country back together again, he has confirmed–even exceeded–the fears of many, if not most, of the voters who did not vote for him. He is a disaster.  Let’s review what he has done since the election:

His cabinet appointments–with one or two exceptions–are the worst in history. For the most part they are extremists and people with an agenda centered on rolling back anything and everything even remotely progressive. Continue reading “Suck it Up, Electoral College: Do the Right Thing”

How Trump Does Not Create Jobs

During the campaign Donald Trump made a point of saying he would stop the export of US jobs.  He held up in particular the example of a Carrier air conditioner manufacturing plant in Indiana.  Its announcement that workers
would be laid off and the plant moved to Mexico was recorded by a worker on a smartphone and went viral.

Last week Carrier announced it had changed its mind and 800 jobs would be retained in Indiana. The press announced Trump did a “victory lap”, visiting the plant to take credit for keeping the jobs.

It soon appeared the State of Indiana (of which Vice President-elect Pence is Governor) had offered Carrier $700 million in tax breaks and other incentives to keep the jobs.

On almost the same day last week it was announced that the US economy had added 170, 000 new jobs in November as part of the ongoing economic recovery. So while Trump and Pence had preserved 800 jobs temporarily through taxpayer subsides, economic policies put in place by President Obama had created over 100 times more permanent jobs without political intimidation or subsidies. Continue reading “How Trump Does Not Create Jobs”

Introducing the Trump Scorecard

You may have already gotten wind of this new and revolutionary method of keeping tabs on the president-elect. It is on my blog: josephhowellphotography.com/blog/ I will cease reminding (badgering) you when I have posted on the blog, so I  encourage anyone who is interested and wants to follow my take on the Trump saga using the scorecard, to become a blog subscriber, which you can do by clicking the tab on the left on the  blog website. Most important: you are invited to weigh in. Don’t miss the excitement! We may be in for quite a ride.

Joe Howell

Fear And Loathing In America

I have been working to try to make meaning of the Presidential election and its aftermath now for over a week. I keep focusing on a number of important and sometimes conflicting data points. Voter turnout was the lowest in twenty years. The exit polls showed that the majority of whites, including women, voted for Trump with two-thirds of non-college whites supporting him. More than a third of Latinos voted for the president-elect. One in ten Millennials voted for a third party. Hillary Clinton looks like she will win the popular vote by over 2 million votes. Protests against the results have taken place in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Schools, elementary to college, have reported an uptick in acts of hate against Jews, Muslims and Blacks since election day.

With this limited information, I have been trying to grasp what this says about our country, what it means for low-income people in America’s cities and what it means for the work of Living Cities, the organization I lead. Of course, I do not have all the answers to those questions but ten days later, these are some of my initial takeaways:

Race and Women
The election clearly was, in part, a reaction to a changed America that many Americans simply are having a hard time coming to terms with. One is about race. The other is about women. There is no doubt that fear of demographic change played a role in this election. Continue reading “Fear And Loathing In America”

Now They Tell Us!

What Voters Should Have Known BT (before Trump election)

Post election I have been maybe strangely eager to keep steady on my total newspaper reading time and also not so strangely eager to avoid eye contact with front-page pictures of DT. I flip fast to the editorial page, and don’t skip the letters to the editor.  One letter on November 2 in the NYT seemed to me to lay out a “Big Why” America got itself into a situation where the losing Presidential candidate beat her opponent by 2.5 million votes and counting.

We have heard a lot about the role of the media in Donald Trump’s victory (there I said his name!) starting with fake news and continuing the loopy road past every brand name screech (I mean tweeeeach). We have talked about the media being all to happy to make money off of reality show antics that they can present as real politics, because in fact that is what real politics are today.  We have talked about the major distortion built into political coverage when political extremism on one side of the spectrum is equated with extremism on the other side, even though no reality test could make them even close to “balanced”. Continue reading “Now They Tell Us!”

Putting A Stop To Job Exportation Overseas? At What Cost, Mr. Trump?

During the campaign Donald Trump made a point of saying he would stop the export of US jobs.  He held up in particular the example of a Carrier air conditioner manufacturing plant in Indiana.  Its announcement that workers
would be laid off and the plant moved to Mexico was recorded by a worker on a smartphone and went viral.

Last week Carrier announced it had changed its mind and 800 jobs would be retained in Indiana. The press announced Trump did a “victory lap”, visiting the plant to take credit for keeping the jobs.

It soon appeared the State of Indiana (of which Vice President-elect Pence is Governor) had offered Carrier $700 million in tax breaks and other incentives to keep the jobs.

On almost the same day last week it was announced that the US economy had added 170, 000 new jobs in  November as part of the ongoing economic recovery. So while Trump and Pence had preserved 800 jobs temporarily through taxpayer subsides, economic policies put in place by President Obama had created over 100 times more permanent jobs without political intimidation or subsidies. Continue reading “Putting A Stop To Job Exportation Overseas? At What Cost, Mr. Trump?”