I took a few days off from following the ultimate feud between candidates. When I re-engaged, low and behold there was Trump telling Black Americans he felt their pain and that HE—the Donald, the Dude—would lead them to a promised land. Quite white, of him, I must say.
Judging from all that has been written in the blog-o-sphere and in the press, I am not the only one who finds it ludicrously ironic when the Trumpster toots: “What do you have to lose?” “Give me a chance!”
The quick answer to the question of loss is, as Ana Navarro has pointed out, “dignity.” Not just the dignity of a people but of a nation. As to giving him a chance—well—that sorta’ depends on believing in his conversion to someone who cares much beyond himself.
Unlike many, I am willing to give the Republican nominee the benefit of the doubt, when it comes to whether or not he is actually a “racist.” I will grant you that he is nasty, brutish and appears to have short fingers. I will even agree that he is rude, selfish, a certifiable megalomaniac and likely an un-redeemable candidate for the presidency of the United States.
I am just not prepared to brand him a racist--at least not on the basis of a preponderance of publicly available evidence. The most damming quotation attributed to him is:
There’s no such thing as racism anymore. We’ve had a black president so it’s not a question anymore. Are they saying black
lives should matter more than white lives or Asian lives? If black lives matter, then go back to Africa? We’ll see how much
they matter there. It is a quote that I have not been terribly successful in securely attributing to him. It is all over the
internet, but usually as someone quoting someone who is quoting him. It may be a flaw in my research. It may even
be an urban legend whose original source was eaten by alligators in the sewers. Although it is a believable reflection of
the man himself.
There are of course secondary sources of racist-like quotations. Among my favorite is a 2fer—most probably racist and anti-Semitic: (353)
Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.
Gotta’ give the guy credit for a certain insulting efficiency.
Then there is the rape and murder of a jogger in Central Park, when Trump very publicly called for the reinstatement of the death penalty in the racially charged wake of the arrest and trial of the Central Park Five, who were wrongly convicted of the rape and murder of a female jogger. Four of the five falsely accused defendants in the case were Black. The fifth was Latino.
Donald J. Trump
@CoachClintSwan Tell me, what were they doing in the Park, playing checkers?
10:42 AM - 21 Apr 2013
Donald’s jump to judgement, in advance of a fair trial, was reprehensible. Perhaps more disturbing was his twit of a Tweet after these men were exonerated: “Tell me, what were they doing in the Park, playing checkers?” Why not? Since when aren’t law abiding individuals not allowed a walk in the park?
These outbursts are rude to say the least. They are more a matter of histrionics than racist history, however. After all, he has made a statement or two actually suggesting he is not a total turd.
There was that time in December of last year when he responded to Justice Scalia’s suggestion that black students might be better off not going to the University of Texas but to a “…less-advanced school, a less -- a slower-track school where they do well." Trump’s response to Jake Tapper’s question on the quote was "No, I don't like what he said. I heard him, I was like, 'Let me read it again' because I actually saw it in print, and I'm going -- I read a lot of stuff -- and I'm going, 'Whoa!' "
“Whoa” is right. You have to admit that this is not a racist remark. Neither is it evidence of the Republican nominee’s understanding and sensitivity of what it means to be Black in America. Mostly, he has been judged a racist on the basis of his comments about Latinos and Muslims.
I think what this shows is that Trump is an equal opportunity bigot. Are bigot’s racists? Maybe. When I consider the term “racist,” I think of a more focused attack on people of color—any color. That clearly is not the Donald. No, he seems to squirt spleen at anyone that is not him, his family or in his political camp. Racism seems to suggest an exclusivity lacking in Mr. Trump’s case.
The question that should be asked by any American is whether or not Donald is fit to lead the nation—the whole nation—over the course of the next four years? Even given the check and balance system that is our form of government, a lot will be lost should Trump emerge victorious in November.
Here is a man who not only seems eminently unqualified at the moment to be the leader of the free world, but incapable of thinking beyond his own ego. I understand and even accept to a point that a healthy ego is needed to run for any elected office. Yes, Bernie fans, he has one too.
A certain amount of egotism is a prophylaxis against your opponent and the media. I am not sure that I would wish a run for public office on anyone. I did not, however, ask Trump—or for that matter Clinton—to run for president.
Before I am willing to give a candidate the chance of office I would like to see some basic understanding of what is required to be a part of or, as in this case, to lead the nation’s government. I would also like to see some degree of humanity and humbleness in my leaders.
Based on his record what I see is a provocateur, a divider, a politician who is as free with his facts as a sex addict is with their favors. What I do not see is a person of substance or charity.
If in his recent pivot to a sensitive and caring candidate I could see a catharsis as sudden and sincere as experienced by Saul on his way to Damascus, I might be convinced that Trump is other than an egotistical pragmatist trying to convince White America that he is not such a shit. I doubt that he will succeed in convincing Black America that Orange is the new Black.
There was a time when the respective presidential candidates of the Republican and Democratic parties were somehow different. If only I could think what the difference was. Oh wait, I remember—respectable.
Respectable---from the English root “able to be respected.” Try as I might, I am just not able to accord either of the current candidates the respect they seem to demand. Is respect owed or earned? Does having made a bejillion dollars or served in public life for 40 years automatically earn you the right to lead the nation?
I do marvel at their tenacity, their stamina to pass through the political gauntlet and emerge still standing. I wonder at their willingness to answer rude, often shallow, insulting and routinely ridiculous questions by a “something passing for news” media that is perhaps less respectable than the candidates themselves.
It is not that I don’t give them their due for what they have accomplished. A life of public service and even a modicum of success in business are no mean feats—even if meanly accomplished.
It is that they have chosen to engage the American people in a dialogue fraught with falsehoods and fallacies. A dialectic that replaces credibility with credulity—that plunges rather than soars.
In the lexicon of lies these are not just strategic ambiguities, differences of interpretation, simple errors, run-of-the-mill spins or white-faced. No, these come under the headings of bald-faced and bullshit.
When caught they try to convince us they are putting cookies in the jar. They won’t even apologize and move on. They keep the lies alive by explaining them. Lies are like jokes--if you have to explain them, they’re not funny.
What is worse, the invocation of such invectives as have flown between the candidates, their surrogates and their apologists are going to leave scars on the political landscape. If gridlock in Washington wasn’t already bad enough, these inter- and intra-party fights are likely to make civil discourse much more difficult in the future.
None of this bodes well for the next four years. I suppose the election might come out so lopsided that the party of the president will be a majority in Congress, although I doubt it. It is even possible that before this whole thing is over the politicians and the people will be so horrified by the incivility that the campaign will prove cathartic and we will learn to cooperate. I doubt that even more.
To be sure, the Republican candidate has exhibited a more pronounced propensity to make things up as he goes along than the Democrat. Neither, however, should have felt free to cast any stones. They both use numbers the way a drunk uses a lamppost—all support and no illumination.
I remember when I was first drawn to politics as a kid. I was in the 5th grade, when my teacher was going on and on and on about the Russians. He was on one of his rants about how they lie. To prove it, he told us about a news story that had appeared in Pravda. The story read that the Russian track team finished second in a recent meet, while the Americans came in second to last.
I was not alone in my failure to understand what was dishonest about the announcement. So I asked him. His answer: there were only two teams competing. I was a twisted child and thought it a sensational spin on the truth. Then and there, I was hooked on politics.
I am no more. I am angry that our leaders trash talk each other. They are setting the wrong example for the rest of us. They speak of unity, of cooperation, of accomplishing more together than divided. They practice polemics.
Polemics spreads like a virus. It is infecting the body politic. We the people ask for bread and are given circuses—complete with clowns. Somewhere along the line our political process has turned into a made for TV game show.
The blame is not all theirs, I suppose. Over two-thirds of us don’t trust either of the candidates, yet we do nothing about it. We accept it. What is there about us—we the people—that allows us to lead our everyday lives while allowing ourselves to be led by a pack of pundits and politicians more interested in poll numbers and ratings than real solutions?
I wish I had an answer to that question. I am unfortunately convinced that there is little we can do about it between now and Election Day. Voting for a 3rd party will not solve the gridlock. Not voting not only is a vote over which we no longer have control but defeats our right to bitch about the inputs and outputs of the system.
Although like many in November I will be voting for Secretary Clinton, Donald is just too a frightening and divisive to believe. I would like to see formalized what in Colombia is referred to as a voto blanco and in Nevada as the None of These Candidates option. Having the opportunity to my no-vote of confidence in the system counted would certainly make me feel better.
Whether or not it would prove an effective alternative I don’t know. It would depend on scale, I suppose. At today’s level of dissatisfaction such an option could prove extremely problematic. What would happen if 2/3 of voters cast their votes for no one? Would no one then become President of the United States? Would no one be better than any one of the current candidates? I don’t honestly know. I am willing to think about it though.
Final note to the reader: As this article is about the liars and not the lies, I will let you find various fabrications for yourself. I highly recommend checking out the Pulitzer Prize winning site http://www.politifact.com.
In the greater scheme of things, direct energy may be little more important than a pimple on an elephant’s butt. Granted it would have to be a pretty big pimple, but the point is that meeting the climate challenge depends upon how energy is used much more than how it is supplied.
This is not some casual conclusion I came to while washing the car. In fact, it is not even my conclusion. It is the message of Richard Heinberg and David Fridley in their new book Our Renewable Future. Recognizing the true potential of renewable energy technologies to contribute to a sustainable world involves understanding the broader context of earthly human activity.
Total consumption represents energy’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions contribution to global warming. Less than a quarter of that total is in the form of electricity supply—the pimple if you will. Consumption—the pachyderm’s butt—is what Heinberg and Fridley refer to as embodied energy.
Embodied energy is the sum of all energy used in the production of goods and services. According to this analysis, even replacing all fossil and nuclear electric generating sources with renewable energy will simply not prevent the world’s plunge into the climate cauldron.
Heinberg and Fridley point to a number of examples that many in the renewable energy sector tend to overlook when describing the promise of these technologies. In pursuit of clean energy deployment opportunities, there can be a tendency to ignore the other 80 percent of life that contributes to climate change.
I have written before about the absolute necessity of developing response strategies across the full policy spectrum. Our Renewable Future speaks more substantively and eloquently than ever I could to the importance of context.
Consider the humble slab of concrete and its contribution to climate change. According to Heinberg and Fridley:
"…the cement industry is responsible for only one-quarter of one percent of total U.S. energy consumption, it is the most energy-intensive of all manufacturing industries. [emphasis mine] The main fuels consumed in the process are coal and petroleum coke, though natural gas and oil are also used.
It’s hard to imagine cement being made any other way, but it’s also hard to imagine living without it: concrete is essential to nearly all building construction, as well as to roads, dams, aqueducts—and pads for wind turbines."
Cement paves the path between the world’s populations. It is estimated that annual per capita global consumption of concrete amounts to upwards of 3 tons. This may sound a silly number. Yet it is not very hard to believe.
I know from my own experiences living in Nicaragua and other parts of Central America that the use of cement crosses all economic classes. With the exception of indigenous forest populations, I can think of few peoples that do not or have not come to rely on this foundation of the built environment.
Consider the embodied energy used in other sectors. For example, in the U.S. agriculture accounts for over 20 percent of total energy consumption. Of that amount, only about 13 percent is used in production. The remaining 87 percent is used to process, package, prepare, transport and support the other components of the farm to table supply chain.
CO2 emissions from the manufacture of one pair of stone-washed jeans is equal to the amount of carbon that is sequestered by 6 trees per year. (Heinberg and Fridley) Let us not forget process heat, for which few renewable alternatives exist at scale. Even “the industrial processes that are used to manufacture renewable energy sources (wind turbines, photovoltaic panels, flat plate collectors, and solar concentrators) need high temperatures, as do factories that make electric trains, electric cars, computers, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and batteries or their components.”
The importance of placing energy supply in its proper context was made acutely apparent to me the day following the webinar, as I came across Bill McKibben’s recent Vanity Fair editorial “A World At War.” The article’s premise is that to successfully combat climate change will take an effort the moral equivalent of World War II.
McKibben references the work of Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University. The professor lays out an incredibly detailed state-by-state pathway to convert the U.S. to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.
Although I question Jacobson’s assumption that all energy sectors can be electrified by 2050, McKibben accepts the assumption. He goes on to say that even though this would be a gargantuan task, it could be accomplished. In support of the possibility he cites the industrialization of the U.S. during World War II as evidence that it can be done. Basically the entire military-industrial complex of the nation was turned to the manufacture of war materiel.
I will leave a detailed discussion of how McKibben thinks it can be done for another day. I admit that it is difficult for me to imagine how his strategy could become a reality. For purposes of this column, however, I am willing to concede the possibility and I respect his recognition of just how large an effort is required.
What I am not willing to concede is the assumption that the world can do business as usual AND defeat climate warming if we just put our minds, policies, manufacturing skills and investment dollars to the task. Accepting Heinberg and Fridley’s argument that focusing on energy supply will not cure the cause of climate change—any successful climate strategy must address embodied energy.
In the last analysis how we use energy is as important as how we supply it. No matter how successful any effort to swap out renewable for fossil energy sources, without increasing efficiencies and realigning our priorities and practices, the war on carbon will be lost.
In closing, a graphic image to help you visualize just how far we have to go to win McKibben’s war. Maintaining a U.S. standard of living will require equivalent resources and atmospheres of four earths—three times our maximum possible budget. Business as usual is simply no longer an option.
I don’t know what time it is where you are, but it is 4:15 in the morning where I am. I just woke up—mad as hell! I have been recently researching the Clean Power Plan for a client and constantly confronted by the growing number of legal challenges to its implementation.
As a lawyer and believer in the Constitution, I am aware of the right to sue. As a member of the human race and a believer in the sanctity of life, however, I am mad that these cases are not likely to be resolved for years. For years!
This column will undoubtedly be the first of a new series. It is unlikely that I will be able to both inform and opine in the space I’m allowed. Somewhat unusually—because I already know what it is—I wish to write the conclusion of the series in advance.
Click here to read the full article, originally published on August 24, 2016, by Renewable Energy World.
Success breeds complacency, complacency breeds failure, only the paranoid survive. —Andy Grove
The world is teetering on the brink of a clean energy sea change. The environmental righting of the global ship is motivated by a combination of factors including: growing acceptance of the reality of catastrophic warming; consumer adoption of clean energy options; incorporation of environmentally sustainable practices by industry; and, recombinant investing by the public and private sectors, e.g., through the Clean Energy Investment Initiative and green bonds. Virtually every nation on the planet—even the traditionally most reluctant regimes like Russia, China and India—has signed on to the Paris climate accords (COP21).
Click here to read the full article, originally published on July 26, 2016, by Renewable Energy World.
You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there. —Yogi Berra
The global climate is not the only environment suffering from an abundance of hot air and inclemency. Consider the political/policy climate in the U.S., e.g., November elections, and abroad, e.g., Brexit, and the near-term impact of these socio-economic factors on national and international efforts to sufficiently slow the rate of climate change. As we ponder these events, we must remember that time is of the essence! Delayed implementation of emission reduction targets of even a few years can have an outsized negative impact upon the rate of warming.
There is a need both to speed up emission reductions and to factor in the most recent scientific evidence suggesting that Earth is tumbling towards 2°C faster than was thought by the COP21 delegates. It is increasingly suggested that if more ambitious targets are not soon set, the world will be facing the prospect of a 4 or more degree Celsius rise in temperatures by the end of the century. A prospect that, by all accounts, poses a climate catastrophe.
Complacency, therefore, is not an option. Contentment prompted by the positives will result in the failure to overcome the consequences of the negative, in a timely enough manner.
Click here to read the full article, originally published on August 1, 2016, by Renewable Energy World.
The certainty of uncertainty, in the political arena, is the only thing of which I am certain. The 2016 presidential election is already a cross between The Rocky Horror Picture Show and a full contact spectator sport. If it didn’t have such an impact on the global environment, I might find these theatrics of the absurd entertaining.
I had ended Part II with the start of a discussion on the near-term impact of the U.S. presidential race. Beyond some of the particular differences between the Republican and Democratic nominees I referenced, the jam for the White House is historic for the prominence it is according climate change and the role of renewables. Very much driven, I believe, by Senator Sanders, both candidates and their parties are making more than honorary mention of these subjects—more than President Obama did in either 2008 or 2012. Although approaching them from very different perspectives, millions of Americans are just now discovering the importance and ubiquity of climate and energy.
Click here to read the full article, originally published on August 4, 2016, by Renewable Energy World.
The complex case of West Virginia v. EPA illustrates the uncertainty injected into the national effort of the U.S. to meet its COP21 commitments, as a result of day-to-day realities. The case is the basis for the Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) staying the implementation of the Clean Power Plan (CPP or Plan). It is the lynchpin holding up the U.S. promise made in Paris.
The Plan ranks as one of the most controversial environmental regulations ever promulgated by EPA. It rankles the sensibilities of climate deniers and raises the hackles of 200 sitting senators and representatives, who joined the case as friends of the plaintiff 27 states and assorted coal companies. Literally hundreds of other parties have weighed in on both sides of the legal arguments, including: past members of Congress, utilities and independent power producers, business organizations, medical professionals, faith groups, regulatory commissioners, local government organizations, renewable energy and environmental organizations, labor unions, former Secretaries of State and Defense, former EPA Administrators and a career State Department diplomat.
Click here to read the full article, originally published on August 8, 2016, by Renewable Energy World.
If you come to a fork in the road, take it. —Yogi Berra
Divided was the third most quoted word given by U.S. voters in response to a recent Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll asking for a one-word description of the current state of the union. Confused ranked fifth.
These responses correctly capture the cause of uncertainty that has been the theme of this series of articles on the reality of meeting the U.S.’s promised emission reduction targets. Or, in terms of the Paris Accord, nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
The dichotomous direction of policies and programs in support of a domestic clean energy economy is by no means limited to national politics or the federal judiciary. Present and emerging divisions within and between the states, as well as within and between clean energy-environmental organizations must be recognized as potential sources of division and confusion impacting the likelihood of reaching the promised NDCs.
Click here to read the full article, originally published on August 11, 2016, by Renewable Energy World.
And would some Power give us the gift
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us… —Robert Burns
I had no idea when I wrote the first sentence of the first article in this series that I would still be writing weeks later. Today’s installment—the last in the series—identifies some of the fissures I see forming in the advocacy community. That is, the group of dedicated renewable energy and environmental advocates whose commitment and diligence to the task of saving the world from itself has gotten us this far down the path to sustainability.
Are these clefts the canary in the coal mine? Doubtful. Do they represent circumstances of uncertainty that impede the pace of the transition to sustainability? Undoubtedly.
The advocate community is extremely diverse; it ranges from the Left to Right and back again. Uh huh, yes, I said it. The Right. Don’t type cast—not every Republican is Donald Trump or Fred Upton (R-MI), chairman of the House Energy Committee. I refer you to the group republicEn. There are others out there as well—Google Republicans advocates for clean energy.
Click here to read the full article, originally published on August 15, 2016, by Renewable Energy World.
Joel B. Stronberg
Joel Stronberg, MA, JD., of The JBS Group is a veteran clean energy policy analyst with over 30 years’ experience, based in Washington, DC.