GUEST COLUMN--We can't even. Tensions with North Korea continue to escalate, in large part thanks to the belligerent rhetoric of our moronic Narcissist-In-Chief - who, despite claims to the contrary, has not done anything  to "renovate and modernize" our nuclear arsenal. 

Though he has in fact fired the people who maintain them; put in charge of them Rick "I Am An Idiot" Perry, who knows virtually nothing about them; used his Big Boy pen some weeks back to order a review of them, which hasn't yet happened because he's fired everyone who could have done it; mouthed off about them being "locked and loaded" 'cause it sounds just like a super-cool action movie starring The Rock; prompted world-wide spiritual and economic anxiety; and all the while remained mindbogglingly, incoherently ignorant of precisely what it is those nukey things (that his uncle at MIT once told him about when he was a rich clueless lad rather than a rich clueless baby-man) actually do.

 

GUEST WORDS--I've heard people say that Glen Campbell was politically conservative. But in "Wichita Lineman" (written in 1968 by Jimmy Webb) he opens the song by declaring, "I am a lineman for the county." In other words, he's a government employee. The Wichita referred to in the song is in Oklahoma (it was actually Washita, OK, but Webb changed the name in the song).

About an hour after I originally posted this, Len Shindel sent me his 2014 interview with Webb, published in the Electrical Worker, a publication of the Int'l Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Webb explains how he came to write the song. 

 

GUEST COLUMN--In another totally random moniker, no doubt aimed at making somebody money, Wednesday was National Coloring Book Day.  

Given the ragged state of the union - and because every little crayon-clutching moment of Zen, along with whatever resistance we can summon, helps - we figured we'd take the opportunity to "make coloring great again" by visiting the flood of anti-Trump adult coloring books. 

They include the relatively straightforward "The Trump Coloring Book" by M.G. Anthony, "The Anti-Trump Coloring Book: #CureLIFEwithaCrayon" by Mike Browne, "F*ck Trump: An Adult Coloring Book" by Nasty Woman, "Color Me Resisting: A Coloring Book for Persisting When You Are Too Tired to March," with proceeds going to the ACLU, by Judith Krauthamer, "Trump: The Road to Impeachment" by Kim Brown and Eric Tollevsen, and for "coloring therapy" the "Huge and Beautiful Trumptivity Coloring and Activity Book" by Chris Piascik and Shayna Cochefski.

 

GUEST WORDS--So, this happened. Seems Trumpie really doesn't like it when a woman doesn't do what he tells her to do. For some reason he's decided Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski needs to be taught a lesson even though she's not up for reelection until 2022 so putting the squeeze on her makes little political sense. Plenty of men have voted against various aspects of the health care monstrosity.  So this is more about grabbing her by the you-know-what: 

President Donald Trump isn't going to just let go of Sen. Lisa Murkowski's no vote Tuesday against debating Obamacare repeal!

Early Wednesday, Trump took to Twitter to express displeasure with Murkowski's vote. By that afternoon, each of Alaska's two Republican senators had received a phone call from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke letting them know the vote had put Alaska's future with the administration in jeopardy.

The response follows Trump's no-holds-barred style of governing, even when it comes to his own party. It is his first strike of retaliation against Murkowski, however, despite her tendency to stray from the party line and the president's priorities.

 

GUEST WORDS--History may record that the planet’s climate crisis was avoided thanks to the efforts of three countries: China, Germany, and France. Or not. The preparedness of those three, and the other EU member-states, to follow through on commitments under the Paris Accord despite the US pull-out is key to planetary survival. Chancellor Angela Merkel has made no bones about it, announcing that the Europeans are determined, in the name of Western values, to meet the Paris goal of keeping planetary temperature rise to 1.5-2 degrees Celsius while also welcoming immigrants and upholding the global trade system.

The Discouraging News

Every expert opinion on climate change includes a dire warning: We haven’t got much time. The latest warning comes from a group of scientists and supportive others called Mission 2020. Reporting in Nature, they believe that if greenhouse gas emissions can turn downward by 2020—emissions have actually flattened out over the last three years—we have a chance to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. But if the Paris goals cannot be met, we are on the way to catastrophic decline. The group reminds us that economic growth in many countries is occurring precisely where use of non-carbon renewable sources has increased dramatically.

 

GUEST COLUMN--In the last week of July, 54 years ago, President John F. Kennedy initialed the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with his counterpart, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Kennedy spoke to the nation in a remarkable address, which reminds us of his gifts of vision and eloquence; of the obligation and wisdom to pursue peace even in the most unlikely circumstances; and of the world’s clear and present danger with President Trump, who manifests the opposite of Kennedy’s moral vision and steady hand.  

A little over a half century ago, the world stood at the brink of nuclear war. The United States and Soviet Union came to the edge of conflict on three occasions in less than two years, during 1961 and 1962, in Berlin, Laos, and Cuba. In his speech, Kennedy describes in harrowing terms how thermonuclear war could end the human race or (as Khrushchev had put it) leave the survivors envying the dead.

Yet out of the gloom, Kennedy and Khrushchev earned humanity’s eternal gratitude by enabling “a shaft of light” to cut into the darkness. Kennedy was guided by the moral vision that peoples on both sides of a dire conflict are human beings seeking peace. As he famously put it in a speech in June 1963, “For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”  

 

GUEST WORDS-There’s a thing that happens in any social movement where the people who are negatively impacted by something attempt to articulate the unquantifiable, and people with privilege pretend there’s no problem at all. That’s what privilege is: The state of being comfortable enough to not notice.

We are running into this problem with the word “elitism.” Editors who normally love my pitches won’t publish an article about it. If I use the word online, I will immediately be deluged with people arguing that there is no such thing at all, or that it’s a figment of the GOP’s imagination. Elitism is hard to prove, because it’s not an event. It’s a mood and a tone. It is an undercurrent, oft-mentioned and never examined. It is a thing that I know because I am myself elite these days, though I never was before.

Most people become elites after going to universities and putting in time in the trenches of D.C. or some media outlet; their status takes years to build. I hacked the system; I was a second-shift cook who wrote a cri de coeur that garnered worldwide attention, and just like that I was a critically-acclaimed author who is invited to lecture all over the world. It’s possible that many elites don’t understand just how set apart they are because they have never seen the juxtaposition. They might not understand what things look like to those who aren’t so lucky. 

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