Codfish's blog

Bush In The Bully Pulpit

By Greg O’Brien, Codfish Press

Read the history books. George. We all know Teddy Roosevelt, and you’re no Teddy Roosevelt. In response to the submission that Congress “has rendered him irrelevant” as his second term wanes, President Bush insists there is still plenty to do to be an effective leader, USA Today reports. “I’m doing it right now,” the paper quotes him as saying. “It’s called (using) the bully pulpit.”

Bush’s latest sermon forewarns the risk of “World War III,” if Iran continues its uranium enrichment programs designed, many observers caution, to develop nuclear weapons. “I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them (Iran) from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon,” Bush said last week during a press conference in an apparent pushback at Russian President Vladimir V. Putin’s declaration that any use of military force in the region, even to halt a nuclear energy program, was unacceptable.

Enter trigger-happy Vice President Dick Chaney, who said Sunday in a speech that the U.S. “will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon,” and suggested “serious consequences” if Iran pursues the course.  Some in Washington have interpreted this as the threat of a military strike—Cheney’s “fondest pipe dream,” as Sen. Jim Webb, a Democrat from Virginia, was quoted in the Associated Press as saying.

The problem with all this bully pulpit stuff is a matter of etymology and oversimplifying a world crisis that awaits us, for which we need a thoughtful strategy, not one-liners from a President about to leave office. The “bully pulpit” according to the C-SPAN Congressional Glossary, “stems from President Theodore Roosevelt’s reference to the White House as…a terrific platform from which to persuasively advocate an agenda. Roosevelt often used the word ‘bully’ as an adjective meaning superb or wonderful.”

There is nothing superb or wonderful about a foreign policy—as we have in Iraq and appear headed to in Iran—that oversimplifies a crisis without a proper exit strategy or an accounting of potential losses. It may get the flag waving in the Mid West, but does little to confront the realities of the 21st century. As we did in Iraq, are we going to invade every country that threatens our national security? Are we going to bomb into oblivion any hostile government that develops nuclear weapons? And as a nation, are we to feel safe, just because a White House administration purports to do so?

What about the specter of terrorist dirty bombs, chemical weapons, and biological weapons, like the spread of deadly, antibiotic-resistant staff infections that infect more than 90,000 Americans annually, according to a government report? The bully pulpit ought to expound on superb ways of attacking these problems, not just offer chest-beating, dead-end, veiled threats that play well on the six o’clock news.

Another View From Brewster: The Blabbermouths Of New York

By Greg O’Brien, Codfish Press

New York has a way of upstaging Boston in most ways other than schooling. Even when these New Yukers come to the Cape, they think they own the place. The braggadocio can be nauseating. For in the city that never sleeps, where those “little town blues are melting away,” the supposition is that if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

Flash to Joe Torre. Apparently, Torre didn’t cut it in New York, according to the “Boss” George Steinbrenner. Torre on Thursday rejected a pay cut and a one-year “performance- based” contract after a 12-year run as Yankee Sipper that raised memories of Ruth and Gehrig and Mantle and Maris. Paraphrasing Torre’s response to loudmouth Steinbrenner—no longer the  “king of the hill, top of the heap,” in ol’ blue eyes, the Chairman of the Board’s words—the New York Daily News shouted Friday on its front page: “4 Series Wins, the Playoffs every year, now you dis me. So George, take this job and shove it!”

The American Heritage Dictionary defines the term blabbermouth as “one who talks indiscreetly or incessantly.” Beyond all doubt, New York has two of the world’s biggest blabbermouths since Ralph Kramden’s harassing stereotypical mother-in-law dressed him down for his weight, shortcomings as a provider, and for Alice’s missed opportunities to marry a better man. In the classic scene from “The Honeymooners,” Kramden in recounting his mother-in-law’s not-so-subtle disparagements slowly boils to a blather. Bang. Zoom!

“I will never have a heart attack. I give them,” blabbermouth Steinbrenner once told former Yankee general manager Bob Watson, a comment recounted on ESPN’s Classic’s SportsCentury series and noted in a piece written by ESPN’s Mike Puma.

 Steinbrenner and fellow big mouth Jim Dolan, chairman of Cablevision, dysfunctional parent of Madison Square Garden and the Knicks, aren’t giving us heart attacks these days, not even mild angina, but they are the root cause of aggravating dyspepsia that collectively turns the nation’s stomach. Their arrogance and swagger, real or imagined, and their proclivity to harass and abuse is childish, nauseating and malevolent. 

Steinbrenner’s rants on Yankee manager Torre—who has coached a near perfect game with 12 consecutive post-season appearances and deserves serious consideration for manager-of-the-year—had about as much to do with motivation as our Iraq war plan does with inspiration. It was babble, and it’s getting old—as old as the Boss himself. Remember, this is the guy who in 1989 paid gambler Howie Spira $40,000 to dig for grime on former Yankee star Dave Winfield, and who pled guilty 33 years ago to illegally tossing coins into Richard Nixon’s collection plate.

Yankees are out, and maybe for years to come, so  enter blabbermouth Dolan, the “Ritchie Rich” of the corporate world, as one writer called him, a spoiled man-boy who doesn’t know the difference between make believe and real life because he has never had to live in reality. Until now, that is—the cold reality of a recent $11.6 million judgment against him in punitive damages for discriminating against former Garden executive Anucha Browne Sanders. Clown prince Isiah Thomas, the foundation stone of the case, doesn’t have to pay up, but his chances of ever coaching again beyond the Knicks are  about as good as Wilt Chamberlain having another 100 point game.

“Jim Dolan gives poor little rich boys a bad name,” writes sports columnist Ian O’Connor. “Poor little rich boys can be spoiled, arrogant and dismissive, and…Charles Dolan is all of that. But thanks to their gene pools and trust funds and prep school educations, poor little rich boys aren’t dumb. Jim Dolan? He’s dumber than a Game 7 technical.”

Dolan has fouled out with his actions and contemptuous demeanor in the Browne Sanders case, as has Steinbrenner whiffed again with his tongue. These are breaches of class behavior that both sports and corporate executives should observe closely and discern from.

Blabbermouths in Ralph Kramden’s world go to the moon. Bang. Zoom!



You Can Call Him, "Al"

“A man walks down the street

“He says why am I soft in the middle now

“Why am I soft in the middle

“The rest of my life is so hard”—Paul Simon, You Can Call Me Al

By Greg O'Brien, Codfish Press

Al Gore, no doubt, is soft in the middle, his political life has been hard, and like the man walking down the street in Simon’s pop song, he has sought a “shot a redemption.”

“Don’t want to end up a cartoon. In a cartoon graveyard,” the lyrics note.

Gore is no cartoon today, and you can still call him “Al” on the lip of his 2007 Nobel Peace Prize that he shares with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change, a United Nations amalgam of scientists.

Look who’s smiling now!

On a national stage of elected leaders, presidential contenders of all stripes, and also rans, Gore is in a global weight class of his own. There are no hanging chads on the guy who couldn’t deliver the Sunshine State.

“The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all humanity,” he said in winning the prize. “It is also our greatest opportunity to lift global conscientiousness to a higher level.”

Perhaps the most enlightening facet of Gore’s statement is that he truly believes it—unlike his nemesis, George Bush, whose polite White House response sounded like he had just returned from a bad blind date. “Of course we’re happy for Vice President Gore and the I.P.C.C. for receiving this recognition,” White House spokesman Tony Fratto was quoted in the New York Times as saying. Hold the Rose Garden balloons—not that there’s not ample hot air rising from the Bush Administration on the global warming crisis.

The dictionary defines crisis as, “A situation or period in which things are very uncertain, difficult, or painful, especially a time when action must be taken to avoid complete disaster or breakdown.”

What’s there not to get, Mr. President? Stop playing face book with the American people on this issue.

To quote Clark Griswold in Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation after pre-holiday celebrations went south, “We’re on the threshold of hell!”

The air is warming and the polar ice caps are melting quicker than your favorability ratings, and the consequences of this will create a tidal wave of grief across the planet. The earth needs a champion.

So you can call him “Al,” and to paraphrase Simon, if you will be “our bodyguard,” we will be “your long lost pal.”




Are You Better Off Today?

By Greg O'Brien, Codfish Press

Twenty seven years ago, Ronald Reagan, the great communicator, asked the American people during a debate with then-incumbent Jimmy Carter, a key moment in the 1980 presidential campaign: Are you better off now than you were four years ago?

The answer was a resounding “No,” and Republicans hitched up to Reagan’s broad coattails for a long ride down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Today on the sixth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Americans are being asked the troublesome question again, as it applies to the lagging war in Iraq, the battle against terrorism, and the strength of Homeland Security. The answers depend on the audience and who’s spinning the chairs, although the facts speak more clearly than they obscure.

Army Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, tells us the military surge is working, and that it is the only viable option to prevent Iraq and the region from tumbling into more anarchy. The Democratic response has ranged from incredulity to guarded acknowledgement that there has been some tactical gains, but no winning strategies. “They (tactical gains) will have no ultimate bearing, at this point, on the prospect of there being a political settlement in Iraq that would allow American troops to come home without leaving chaos behind,” Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press. Underscoring the point, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) last week concluded that the Iraqis have failed to meet 11out of 18 defined goals.

On other fronts, our fight against terrorism and efforts to shore up Homeland Security have been lacking at best. The GAO has said that the Department of Homeland Security has "not met five specific performance goals” to assure first responders—police and fire agencies—have dependable communication. “It shouldn’t take six years for a fire department to be able to talk to a police department in another jurisdiction,” Sen. Charles Shumer, D-New York, said in an Associated Press report. In a related dispatch, the AP noted a recent congressional investigation into Homeland Security’s failure to stop a tuberculosis patient from leaving the country. The investigation cited “significant security gaps, heightening concern about vulnerability of potential cases of pandemic flu or smallpox.”

As Americans today digest the congressional testimony of Gen. Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, and hear all the tributes from various 911 memorial services, they will likely respond to the question: are we better off today?

The grim math, at least, is clear—nearly 3,000 lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001 and more than 4,100 troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since Bush declared a “war on terrorism” in the wake of the attacks.

What is sorely needed now is a non-partisan plan with a timetable that works. If you vet the public opinion polls, most Americans at the moment don’t think we have one, and thus might answer in the negative when asked how they are feeling.


Even On Old Cape Cod: Sex Never Gets Old!

By Greg O'Brien, Codfish Press

Sex is no longer a four-letter word. Even a stuffy numerologist knows that. Shattering taboos like they were your grandmother’s fine china, adults into their mid-eighties are enjoying sex, according to a University of Chicago study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week to orgasmic reviews. “The nationally representative survey of more than 3,000 U.S. adults ages 57 to 85 found that more than half to three-quarters of those questioned remained sexually active, with a significant proportion engaging in frequent and varied sexual behaviors,” The Washington Post reported. Yikes! Must be lots of smirking down at the Council on Aging socials. Praise the Lord, and pass the Viagra.

Sex among seniors, says Stacy Tessler Lindau, who led the University of Chicago study, is a good toning exercise, releases special happy hormones, and offers obvious psychological and health benefits to those looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. It seems that some of our elders are wearing sunglasses.

As a kid, I always knew parents were into sex. My Irish Catholic mother was pregnant 15 times and my godmother gave birth to 16. I never realized sex in the city or out in the country was for the 80 something crowd. But why not?

There are a lot of myths about sex, so I thought I ought to brush up on a Live Science sex quiz (, covering a range of misnomers. See how you do. “The sex lives of our prehistoric ancestors were likely similar to: monogamous penguins; promiscuous, no-commitment bonobo chimpanzees; or polygamist, harem-loving gorillas?” The answer, monkey brain, is: promiscuous, non-commitment bonobo chimpanzees. Here’s another one. “Based on artifacts and cave paintings, Ice Age women were likely to: be submissive and dragged around by their hair; to have sex only to make babies; to enjoy sex as much as their male counterparts?” The answers is: they appear to have enjoyed sex as much as their male mates.

On the subject of known aphrodisiacs in the food world, Live Science asks, what is the most potent: oysters, strawberries and turkey; oysters, chocolate and spicy foods; or chocolate and figs?  The answer is oysters, chocolate and spicy food, but beware, consumed in one sitting, the above will make you too sick for sex.

And finally, on average how much sperm do we chest-beating males produce a day: 100 million each, 300 million, or 500 million? The answer is 300 million, but don’t get too cocky about it. Most are rejects, like the fanciful tales of our sex lives.

Not that anyone cares, but I bombed the quiz. Easy to say for a sheltered guy who attended a parochial prep school in White Plains, N.Y, and all-boys Catholic college in Connecticut before transferring to sun-drenched University of Arizona in Tucson where halter tops outnumbered the prickly bear cactus. I was overwhelmed and unprepared for it, but then there’s always my 80s to anticipate.

From Cape Cod To California: End Game For War In Iraq

By Greg O'Brien, Codfish Press

In a stunning declaration last week, the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the country’s most prominent veterans’ organization, affirmed that “the war in Iraq is not lost”—a statement on its surface that sounded as if it were issued from the White House press office to persuade Congress and the public to allow the “surge” in troops more time to succeed. President Bush, meanwhile, in his weekend radio address acknowledged that political progress on the national front in Iraq was moving too slowly, but insisted “positive steps in cities and towns are offering hope for future stability,” the Associated Press reported. Then days later, he assured the VFW in a Kansas City stump speech that “a free Iraq” is within our grasp, and warned “if Americans succumbed to the  ‘allure of retreat’ they will witness the death and suffering the sort not seen since the Vietnam War.”

Sounds like Nixon talking to the walls before he left the White House. Hey, Mr. President, look at the rising body count! Hard not to draw an analogy to the Mekong Delta.

Putting a smiley face on disaster in Iraq flies in the mug of reality, and has been a hallmark of the Bush Administration ever since Bush declared victory in May, 2003 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. 

Recent news reports note that Pentagon officials are now conceding that the demand for troops in Iraq could soon outstrip the supply. “The Army has nearly exhausted its fighting force and its options if the Bush Administration decides to extend the Iraq buildup beyond the next spring,” the AP states. And as the Bush Administration presses to deploy more soldiers in Iraq, the Army “has shortened the duration of several of its bedrock training courses so that troops can return to fighting units on the front lines more quickly,” the Boston Globe reported Sunday, quoting senior training officials. “The whole intent is to get the soldier into the unit where he can be used faster,” Col. Joe Gallagher, who heads up Army training plans, said in an earlier Globe interview. “Time will tell if something is missing.”

Indeed, it is. Bush’s failed “shock and awe” campaign in the Middle East also has taken a bite out of Homeland Security. U.S. troops are now firing more than a billion bullets a year in both fighting and training for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, causing a nationwide ammunition shortage for police departments throughout the country. Dozens of police and sheriff’s departments “are struggling with delays of as long as a year for both handgun and rifle ammunition,” according to an AP survey.

Expect more hyperbole next month, when the White House unveils its Iraq “progress” report and plans for gradual troop withdrawal. The New York Times, quoting an administration official, reports that the Bush Administration seeks public support to keep American involvement in Iraq “on a sustainable footing” through the end of his presidency. Bush’s Wednesday warm-up speech was the start of a forceful White House blitzkrieg intended to spin debate on Capitol Hill for staying the course until Bush heads for Kennebunk or Crawford.

No surprise here. The tactic leaves an exit strategy to a successor, likely a Democrat. For now, at least, some of the Democratic presidential candidates are not taking the easy bait and calling for a swifter withdrawal.  Hillary Clinton has said that a withdrawal could be a “massive, complicated undertaking…It’s so important that we not oversell this.”

Withdrawal clearly will take time, but it starts with a concession that this war is lost. The only end game here is a boat ride home, and the resolve for more thoughtful foreign policy strategies in the future.


Independence Day: We The People

We Are Rome?

we_the_people_flag2_367By Greg O’Brien, Codfish Press

As millions of flag-waving Americans huddle around barbeques July 4, with beer, burgers and exotic hors d'oeuvres in hand, and some of our friends across the pond, as we like to say, embrace a more revisionist view of Independence Day, the world watches in curious anticipation of what “We The People,” on the cusp of a critical national election, espouse as a collective vision and destiny.

That vision today seems as loud, crackling and assorted as a fireworks display on a hollow, cloudless night—deafening booms from the left and right and sprays of opinionated color from the middle. “Oh, but ain’t that America for you and me,” as John Mellencamp sings.

Diversity of opinion, as with race, gender and creed, is succor for the nation’s soul, so long as it is expressed with genuine respect for others, deferential tolerance of our many differences. Most of us share the same broad vision for America: that we be a strong, secure country; a defender of rights; a land of opportunity. How we get there is anyone’s guess, and those from the far right and far left who purport to have all the answers are as American as the British loyalists of the revolution. “Ain’t that America, the home of the free.”

Much has been written on the eve of July 4 about this nation’s past and about its future, as we shore up a permeable homeland security and brace for the potential of more terrorist attacks. In recent books, newspaper columns and in pulpits, comparisons have been made to ancient Rome, the invincible empire that once ruled the world and died of self-inflicted causes—a ruinous morality and lack of good leadership and a plan. Writing in the New York Times, Adam Goodheart reads between the lines of Cullen Murphy’s new book, “We Are Rome?”

The dogmas of the…past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, we must think anew and act anew.
  - Lincoln
“Mr. Murphy,” writes Goodheart, “especially draws parallels between Rome’s imperial predicament and what he sees as ours: the problems of a vast, multiethnic nation with a messianic view of itself and an often simplistic view of the rest of the world, stretched too thin beyond its borders and facing mounting challenges within them.”

Indeed, those who don’t learn from history are bound to repeat it, Abraham Lincoln tells us. But as Lincoln cautioned, “The dogmas of the…past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, we must think anew and act anew.”

Thinking and acting anew—if we are to avoid the perils of Rome and plot a course that navigates the hazards of the 21st century—requires real problem solving, not the usual bolus of ideologues, nitpicking and shrill talk shows, bent more on agitating than edifying. It’s something to consider as we stoke the fires of our 231st birthday.

 “Ain’t that America, we’re something to see.”

Serving Two Masters: A Spirit Divided

By Greg O’Brien, Codfish Press

I met Neda the other day. She says she’s one of the “lucky” ones. “I have two dumb presidents,” she declares in a thick Persian accent.

Born and raised in Tehran and now living and working in Boston with a dual U.S. citizenship obtained in a coincidental twist of irony on September 11, 2005, Neda Ahanin today finds herself straddling the balance beam of two polar opposites, her two presidents— trenchant Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and unbending George Bush. Loyal to the ancient and founding principles of both countries, Ahanin is a study of wrenching conflicts and contrasts, and yet she embodies the notion that the people of a nation often do not reflect the leadership du jour. A member of a traditional Persian sect who has attended an evangelical church in America, a woman who is as at ease in a chador as she is in a sundress, a nationalist of both an Islamic republic in Bush’s Axis of Evil and the foremost democracy in the world, Ahanin rebuffs our collective penchant to stereotype, bluntly stating, “the world is too quick to judge.” Her eclectic views defy political profiling.

On this peaceful Sunday morning, she sits in a small office in the Stony Brook section of Brewster, the air outside heavy and moist, and recoils at the headline of the day, threatening Armageddon in the Middle East—AHMADINEJAD: ISRAEL SOON DESTROYED. “Ahmadinejad is a nut,” winces Ahanin, who works as assistant to Boston Metro publisher Stuart Layne.  “He’s not a civilized person. He’s dangerously dumb.”

Ahmadinejad, she says, rules out of fear, and draws power from a country paralyzed by apathy, economic pressures and widespread drug use. “Iranians are good, family-centered people, but many of them feel trapped, and take a course of least resistance,” says Ahanin, 27, who lived in Tehran during the Iran-Iraq War and speaks fluent Farsi and Arabic. “It’s easier and cheaper for a person in Iran to buy opium or heroin, than it is to buy books. It’s a purposeful decision by the government, I believe, to keep the country sedated. If a person can’t think, they can’t resist and make decisions.”

Ahanin doesn’t mince words about her other president, either—reproving Bush, as she does Ahmadinejad, for using religion to maneuver a nation in his narrow political footsteps. “And Bush is not very smart, as well,” she says. “I’m still learning English, and my sentence structure is better than his. His aides write it for him, put it in front of him, and he still can’t read the cue cards. It’s embarrassing. I feel so sad when he talks that he’s the person speaking for this country.” Both Bush and Ahmadinejad, she notes, do a dreadful job of representing the various cross-sections of opinions in their countries.

Locked in what appears to be an unending identity crisis, Ahanin insists she has not lost touch with her values. “I am Persian,” she says, an obvious reference to an empire that no longer exists. “I am proud of that. My only identity crisis is to make others understand the difference between my people and its government.”

As to smart presidents, Ahanin says she would be happy with two presidents who had a half brain. “Then it would be one brain, and that would be a good start!”


Pushing Our Children Over The Edge!

By Greg O’Brien, Codfish Press

We all tend to push a bit—some of us shove—to gain an advantage for our children, assuming as parents that we always know what’s best for them, simply by virtue of our ability to conceive offspring. It’s evolution at its highest rung, as we attempt collectively to prod our children through intense sports training, accelerated standardized testing, too much stimulation at an early age and mind-altering psychiatric drugs. The result may be a generation left behind by over-aggressive parents, some intent on building monuments to their intellectual and athletic prowess, real or imagined.

The fifth-year anniversary of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), is raising new debate over methods of motivating children as the law comes up for discussion. The statute requires schools to improve, but how we measure real learning can be as oblique as a hypotenuse. For 12 years I’ve served on a regional school committee in a district considered among the best in Massachusetts, and we still haven’t gotten it right.

Many restless parents these days seem to be taking education into their own hands, influenced by an array of self-help videos and books to further stimulate their “child prodigies” or by agreeing to over-medicate children with assumed attention deficit and hyperactive disorders on the marketing pitch of publicly-traded drug companies who stand to increase profit margins from the sale of it.

A landmark University of Washington study has found that “by age 2, 90 percent of children are watching television for an average of more than 90 minutes a day,” according to a Boston Globe Sunday report, noting the harmful impact on an infant’s swiftly developing brain that can “put children at higher risk for attention problems, reading comprehension and obesity” later in life from exposure to the tube. Most parents, the report says, are using television as an educational enhancement. Disclosing that her four-month-old son has been watching television since birth, one woman interviewed proclaims, “He really seems to pay attention.”

So does my dog, Sox, when action movies or sports are airing, and she’s not going to first grade any time soon.

What’s even more distressing are the psychiatric, sometimes suicide inducing, cocktails administered today to children and teens in an attempt to curb obsessive-compulsive disorders, many of them misdiagnosed. More than 1.5 million children and teens nationwide are prescribed at least two psychiatric drugs, and more than a half million children are taking three such medications, according to a New York Times report.

Obvious examples of children at risk and child genius abound, and parents should be quick to respond. The rest of us ought take the summer off from over-stimulating our children, chill out, and enjoy it with the kids.


Warming Trend: Baking The Planet!

By Greg O'Brien, Codfish Press

With apologies to Harry Truman, if you can’t take the heat, get off the planet! Two generations from now, in time for our grandchildren, the icy moons of Saturn may have the summer appeal of Cape Cod and the Jersey Shore. Scientists now predict that average summertime temperatures in several East Coast cities will rise 10 degrees Fahrenheit by 2080, if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise unabated, according to recent findings of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). The temperature swell is expected to create rolling blackouts, an unprecedented rise in sea levels, crop failures and famine, the extinction of certain plant and animal species, and record deaths among the elderly from heat prostration. Anyone for lollygagging on Rhea in July where temperatures are a nippy –281 degrees F in the sun and –364 degrees in the shade?

Realtors take note: for those choosing to stay, with anticipated coastal flooding, the water views of tomorrow are today’s cottages ten blocks from the beach!

Hyperbole aside, what we have here is a failure to communicate, as the captain of Road Prison 36 barked in the movie, Cool Hand Luke. In spite of all the dire predictions, all the hand-wringing, all the gratuitous political statements, all the drop-dead statistics spilling out of official reports, gas prices sliding to $4-a-gallon, polar ice caps melting faster than a popsicle in August, and an alarming increase in killer storms and tornadoes, we collectively seem to have taken on the spirit of Alfred E. Neuman: what, me worry?

Sure, many of us talk a good game, myself included, but the rhetoric falls flat against the facts. “It was probably always too much to believe that human beings would be responsible stewards of the planet,” Jeffrey Kluger of Time Magazine noted two months ago in a cover report. “We may be the smartest of all the animals, endowed with exponentially greater powers of insight and abstraction, but we’re animals all the same.” The feverish planet Earth “needs a cure,” he wrote,  “There’s a role for big thinkers, power players, those with deep pockets—and the rest of us.”

For the rest of us, the time to act is now, in our day-to-day lifestyles, in the choices we make, and in the positions we take, and the policies we support—some of them symbolic, others more life altering. Acting together, one person can slow global warming.

“People have to take it upon themselves because the governments are not going to do it.” Rick Healy, co-author of the WHOI report, said Monday in a Cape Cod Times interview.

Something to ponder as we think about the future and about our grandchildren.