When Will We Ever Learn?

It takes so little to raise my hackles these days, so let me just share two little snippets that left me growling this week.

Life on Planet Earth … but for how long?

Just as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its latest report detailing the threats posed by global warming and concluding that nations aren’t doing nearly enough to protect the planet, the U.S. Supreme Court stands poised to curtail the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to proceed with sweeping regulation of climate-warming emissions from the nation’s power plants.

According to the IPCC report, water and food insecurity have become widespread, affecting millions across the globe, as droughts, heat waves and floods inundate the planet.  More than 13 million people in Africa and Asia were displaced by extreme weather in 2019.  Says ecologist Camille Parmesan, one of the report’s authors …

“One of the most striking conclusions in our report is that we’re seeing adverse impacts that are much more widespread and much more negative than expected.”

The report said “transformational” changes will need to be made not only in the way we get our energy, but in the methods used in the building of new homes, in the way we grow food and in the way we protect the environment.

“With climate change, some parts of the planet will become uninhabitable.” 

“Overall, the picture is stark for food systems. No one is left unaffected by climate change.”

Although many world leaders have pledged to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the current trajectory is from two to three degrees Celsius by the end of the century.  Says Maarten van Aalst, another of the report’s authors …

“Beyond 1.5, we’re not going to manage on a lot of fronts. If we don’t implement changes now in terms of how we deal with physical infrastructure, but also how we organize our societies, it’s going to be bad.”

Can you imagine life with food and water scarcities?  Most of us living in the U.S. cannot imagine it, for we have never been there, making it difficult for us to perceive.  However, if we don’t wake up and STOP mining coal and drilling for oil, stop driving gas guzzling vehicles, stop leaving every light in the house on, then it may be a matter of only a few short years before we wake one morning and find our world transformed and not in any good way.

And on the heels of that report, the Supreme Court, or at least the five ‘conservative’ justices on the Court, are considering clipping the wings of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  On Monday, the Court heard oral arguments in the case of West Virginia vs EPA in which Republican attorneys general and coal companies are asking the court to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to regulate planet-warming gas emissions from power plants.  The name of the agency … Environmental Protection … speaks for itself.  We are killing our planet, the EPA is trying to stop the madness, and the Court is considering giving into the madness, giving already wealthy coal and oil barons a clear path to increase their wealth at the expense of future generations world-wide!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Let us hope that common sense and care for the planet their children and grandchildren will inherit will lead the Court to make the right decision in this case.  I’m not holding my breath.


Okay, so I am 70 years old and perhaps my mind is too calcified at this point to understand the new pseudo-vocabulary that the ‘conservatives’ have been inventing for the past year or two, but apparently they don’t much understand the English language.  I direct your attention to their use of the word ‘woke’, a word that in the English language means arose from sleep.

So, the right-wing bunch refer to those of us who care about such things as women’s rights, equality for all, LGBTQ rights, and more as being ‘woke’.  Well, if you mean we came out of a deep sleep, whether actual or rhetorical, then no – we have always been awake, unlike others in this country who would deny half the population of their rights.  It seems that their very definition of ‘woke’ means an educated humanitarian, and the opposite is … well, an uneducated bigot.

The kicker on the use of ‘woke’ came yesterday when I read in an article that none other than conspiracy theorist Steve Bannon referred to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin as being “anti-woke”, meaning he is still sleeping, has no concept of humanitarianism and human rights.  That sounds about right, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t how Bannon intended it!  His intent was to compliment Putin, and being called “anti-woke”, as I understand the newly-given definition of ‘woke’, is a monumental insult.  But then, people like Bannon et al aren’t very intelligent, so what do you expect?

And on the topic of conservatism … I think that calling for the lynching of one of the world’s renowned medical experts in the field of virology is not very conservative!  I also think that the disrespectful heckling of the president while he is giving a speech talking about his own son’s death is anti-conservative.  A trucker’s convoy to protest health safety measures damn sure doesn’t fall under any conservative set of values.  Chanting to ‘hang’ the vice-president does not sound very conservative to me.  The list is endless, but there is no way to reconcile today’s Republican Party, aka GOP, with conservatism.  None.  No. Way.  If these things represent the Republican Party and their ‘anti-wokeness’, then this nation is in a world of trouble.  Think about it.

What is your ‘ism’? Ask the dictionary

Owen is a blogging friend from the UK. His post yesterday focused on the political terms we use that so many people don’t even understand, but use them almost as if they were bad words. He gives concise definitions for everything from liberalism to fascism and adds his own views of each. Though his perspective is from Brexit and the UK, he also has a good understanding of U.S. politics and sees the parallels between his country and ours. Thank you, Owen, for this helpful post!

“Liberal” Is NOT A Dirty Word!

An article yesterday morning in The Washington Post unveils the republican’s latest strategy for winning in the November mid-terms:  using the word ‘liberal’ as if it were a four-letter adjective.  It isn’t.liberal-1According to Merriam-Webster, a liberal is “A person who believes that government should be active in supporting social and political change”.

According to the Oxford Dictionaries, a liberal is one who is:

  • Willing to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from one’s own
  • Open to new ideas
  • Favourable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms
  • Favouring individual liberty, free trade, and moderate political and social reform
  • Concerned with broadening a person’s general knowledge and experience, rather than with technical or professional training

I see nothing in any of these definitions that makes being a liberal a bad thing, and yet I hear the word spat out by republicans, almost as if by being a supporter of a liberal ideology, we are something vulgar, something akin to the unidentified substance on the bottom of your shoe.

For decades, people on the left or center of the political spectrum have been referred to as “bleeding heart liberals”.  So, what exactly, does that mean?  By one definition, it is “Someone who is particularly compassionate and concerned about people who face disadvantages, whether temporary or institutionalized.” But to those who would use the term as an insult, it implies that caring about anyone other than yourself and your immediate family is somehow “bad,” and caring for those less fortunate than you is somehow “stupid.”

By any realistic definition, I have no problem with being called a liberal.  I would, of course, prefer that the word not be spat at me such that I need to clean my glasses after being called such, but still, I do not consider it an insult.  And I have no problem being called a ‘snowflake’, for as I tell those who call me that, it is a compliment– snowflakes are beautiful and unique. The one that really offends me is being called a “libtard”, for it indicates something that nobody with a brain should use. Perhaps we should simply remember that it is a reflection of those who use the term and their intellectual capacity, or lack thereof.

Back in the day, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s liberal ideas earned him the titles “Moosejaw” and “momma’s boy”, by journalist Westbrook Pegler, who coincidentally also coined the term “bleeding heart liberal”. The term came into its own during the 1950s when Joe McCarthy, called Edward R. Murrow one of the “extreme Left Wing bleeding-heart elements of television and radio.”

On the other side of the aisle are the conservatives who see the world as a challenging place in which there is always someone else who is ready to steal your lunch. Confronted by a potentially hostile environment, the best course is to take precautions and to ensure your own well-being and that of your family.  Most sane people, liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, would agree that the first priority in our life is taking care of our family.  It is why we go to work every day and come home every night.  But taking care of our families and helping others need not be mutually exclusive.

The difference, I think, comes in the definition of what ‘taking care of our family’ means.  For most of us, it means having a job so that we can meet the needs of a place to live, food on the table, bills paid, a car to get around in, health care, and the ability to put aside a bit for a rainy day.  That is enough for me.  My needs are met … there is no need for a bigger house, a fancier car, or steak on the table every night.  If that makes me the object of scorn by conservative republicans, so be it.  I am far more content than they, for I am not always wanting more.

The divisiveness in this nation today is both toxic and dangerous.  We have a so-called president who is inciting violence against the free press by calling them the ‘enemy of the people’, and we have the opportunists like Alex Jones who intentionally rile the masses and drive a wedge between right and left.  And now, in desperation, for the GOP must surely realize that people are getting fed up with their antics, the republican candidates’ modus operandi will be to denigrate democrats by calling them liberals in a tone that indicates nothing good.

Being a liberal is not a bad thing – it simply means we care more about people than we care about wealth.  It means we are willing to settle for a bit less if it means somebody can feed their children tonight.  If that is scorned and mocked by certain politicians and their followers, then in my book, it says something about them, not us.  Liberal is not a bad word … it is a perfectly legitimate ideology and it is past time that people wake up to the reality that we are all, like it or not, on this planet together and will survive a lot longer if we learn to get along.