IBI Watch 12/25/11

25 12 2011



The Real War on Christmas //

Suppression of Christmas is a favorite right-wing theme.  It helps preserve the image, stoked by radio and TV pundits, that ‘true’ Americans are a repressed minority, put upon by the liberal, secular culture.

And it is true – there really is a war on Christmas – that is, the Christmas fantasy immortalized in so many holiday tunes – sleighrides, snowmen, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, all that.

This year in the Twin Cities, it is a historically rare occurrence – a virtually snowless Christmas.  It’s easy to write that off – it’s just one year, it’s no indication of a pattern, it’s just this locale, etc.  But a look at the bigger picture shows that it is happening nearly everywhere across North America and northern Europe.  And though denialists and even cautious scientists hesitate to name cause and effect, this is totally consistent with changes already in motion thanks to our continuous pumping of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.

But wait – didn’t we have Snowmageddon just last year?  Wasn’t last year a very cold winter?  Well, yes, there were many freakish, massive snow events last year.  But no,  it was not really a cold winter.  Here in the Twin Cities, the temperature briefly bottomed out in January at -16 F.  Now that may sound cold, but not by historical standards.  And this year, as of right now, there is no subzero weather in sight.  This seems like paradise to winter-haters.  That is, until we get the collateral damage – that is, harmful insects that don’t die off but instead expand their range because of the dramatically milder winters.

First link – the sad holiday connection.  Second – more on the melting permafrost phenomenon.  Third – a citizen’s overview of the current state of climate science.  It has lots of great graphics, and deals effectively with this ‘unsettled’ business so loved by denialists.  Last link – some welcome and badly needed post-Durban good news.  That is, more Americans may be pulling their heads out of the sand or wherever else they have been hiding them.






Along the Tea Party Road

It was a rare ‘victory’ for the Democrats, and an embarrassing cave for John Boehner just the other day.  That is, the wrap-up of the payroll tax holiday standoff.  Contrary to the usual outcome in these matters, Republicans where the side that blinked, allowing the Social Security tax cut to continue for another couple of months.  Leaving aside the question of whether the cut is wise (it further depletes the Social Security trust fund), it does – for now – keep working-class Americans from taking a hit to their paychecks, something that would have no doubt further weakened the economy.  But the battle resumes right after the holidays, and is just another manifestation of the sheer broken state of our governing system.  Here are some pieces that put the battle in a bigger context


At the first link, Robert Reich weighs in on how the battle raging within the GOP is just the latest reincarnation of a long-time struggle – with grave consequences for the function of the country. At the second, a look at some of what might have been – if we had not elected so many of these angry, Grover-Norquist allied system wreckers.  At the third, Joshua Holland catalogs 2011’s wildest right-wing conspiracy theories.  He skewers the notion of movie reviewers’ liberal bias (it’s because they hate Ayn Rand); ACORN’s continued devious acts (from beyond the organizational grave)  and the latest ‘gate, Solyndra (ignoring the fact that it was supported by the Bush II administration, and had a Walton (yes, that Walton) connection.







Eternal Campaign – Only Just Begun

Some news from the front line of the GOP nomination battle.  First, the Donald leaves the Republican Party.  If it weren’t already Christmas, I would be wishing for this headline in my stocking:  Trump Launches Independent Campaign.  On another front, listen to this Republican who makes so much sense.  Buddy Roemer is a former governor of Louisiana who is getting even less attention than Jon Huntsman.  Could it be precisely because he makes so much sense?  Dark cloud – if this guy runs as an independent, it could be bad news for progressives.  Memories of Ralph Nader and John Anderson, for me.




How Things Could be Better, Soon

How about some good news.  First, not all of the massively rich favor plutocracy.  Meet a few tycoons for fairness at the first link.  Next, some economists dare to question our endless fixation on eternal economic growth.  Note – I have seen the Growthbusters movie featured in the article, and strongly recommend it.  Third, another movement – this one questioning our speed fixation.  Catering to walkers and bikers?  What a concept!  And finally, a movement that will accomplish great things if we let it.  I maintain that a cascade of positive change will immediately follow if we just get the money out of politics once and for all.






Science-Based Spirituality –Antidote to Magical Thinking

There are new, exciting results in the Kepler search for habitable planets.  Goldilocks may be within sight – of course, thousands of light years away.  But each discovery moves us further in the direction that Earth may not be unique in the universe, or even the galaxy.  All the more reason to marvel at how unexplained processes and events have blessed us.  And all the more reason to fight to protect our planetary home from its ongoing destruction.  First link – coverage of the planetary seach.  Next – two examples of what I call science-based spirituality in song.  Enjoy miniconcerts by wise songwriters Mark Erelli and the late, great Dave Carter.  This is the REAL magic to treasure, friends!  Happy Holidays!






“All is connected… no one thing can change by itself.”

-Paul Hawken



Contributed links to this posting – Jeff Carlson, Allyson Harper




One response

27 12 2011

Re Boehner: I’m all for encouraging Jon Huntsman to be the voice of those who give a damn about the future. I know he’s been flipflopping on climate change, but what if a whole bunch of us (including us bystanding and ever-hopeful Canadians) urged him to stay brave and to really speak up on the issue!? We’ve just sent him a package of material on the Arctic methane emergency. Maybe that will help him buck up his courage.

Happy Holidays, Michael, whatever colour they are!

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