Lesson From Paris

Having just finished “The Climate in Paris” by Mark Hertsgaard [Dec. 7], I think we activists need to follow his advice and take action sooner rather than later. Hertsgaard writes: “Entrenched forces and beliefs must be confronted; solidarity and the common good must take precedence over prejudice and selfishness; our children’s future must matter more than past hatreds.”

Toward this end, I think a mass-disobedience day (#massdisobedienceday) should be started to help show our leaders and the undemocratic fossil-fuel corporations that we will not allow any more fossil fuels to be removed from the ground, and we will not accept anything short of an immediate move to renewable energy. These mass-disobedience days can take any form and should come about in a way that can’t be controlled. Much like the gatherings of biking groups that shut down streets or highways, we need to shut down commerce along major highways into other cities or countries, then do it again some other, unexpected day to show that we mean business!

David Robinson
curlew, wash.

With Friends Like These…

How unnerving that Laila Lalami’s marvelous essay “Justice for Paris” [Dec. 7] ties into The Nation’s recent cover story on the GOP crack-up: Saudi Arabia began pouring money into extreme social conservatism at exactly the same time the United States did.
Ruth Conner

Everybody knows that most of the hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi Arabian; that Saudi Arabia supports ISIS and other jihadi groups, while pretending to be against “terrorism”; and that Saudi Arabia is the American arms industry’s top customer. They also know there is no “moderate” rebel army in Syria, after so many American dollars were wasted to create one. The guns we supplied are now used by “the enemy.”

Meanwhile, the epidemic of gun violence and terrorist massacres inside our own country grows as a result of the fetishistic gun ownership promoted by the gun industry and its lobbyist, the National Rifle Association. Most Americans want more gun-control measures, in spite of the NRA’s grip on our timid, paralyzed political class.

In 2002, then-Senator Barack Obama said: “You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to make sure that…the arms merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe.” The real menace at home and abroad is the bloody arms industry.

Morton Alexander
spokane, wash.

Slouching Toward Raqqa?

Regarding the editorial “Assault on Life” [Dec. 7], Hillary Clinton told the Council on Foreign Relations that it’s time to “smash the would-be caliphate.” “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace” was the title of a pamphlet Gore Vidal wrote toward the end of his career. He’s our own Cassandra, and, like her, he predicted how terribly bad the wars fought after the 9/11 attacks would be for us. But no one listened to him. If Hillary becomes president, this country will be drawn into yet another land war. Are we sleepwalking toward the abyss, as Europe did in the First World War? War seems to be the problem and not the solution.
George Hoffman

Sounds Familiar

Liao Yiwu’s “Bulletins and Opium” [Dec. 7], about China, becomes disconcertingly descriptive of the United States if one removes the words “Communism” and “Chinese” from the following sentences: “We wanted the top Communist officials to disclose their side income and private assets. We wanted a fresh start for our country. Government officials are still in league with big business, while ordinary folks can barely make ends meet. Society is suffering from a crisis of trust. Those of us who paid the price for supporting Chinese democracy are left waiting on the fat cats.”
Mike Hanson
la crosse, wis.

Whither The Nation?

Is it possible that The Nation will not endorse Bernie Sanders for president? He’s the first real progressive to seek the nomination in living memory, the only candidate who openly and consistently espouses the same values that The Nation represents—and you hesitate? Will you perhaps remain neutral, or even endorse his opponent, a proven centrist who has only lately learned to mouth progressive slogans? If so, why? Because you believe Bernie will lose?

Fearing so, I ask: What’s the point of “progressive values” if we won’t stand up for those who work to realize them? That is, after all, the only way to build a viable party of the left. Either we act publicly in support of true progressives or we remain mere dreamers, held captive by the-lesser-of-two-evils logic and therefore repeatedly supporting people we don’t like rather than those we do—unless, of course, we’re simply hypocrites, like the so-called Progressive Caucus in Congress. Your own failure would imply abandoning real interest in a genuine alternative to the plutocratic parties we’ve been stuck with for so long. Come on, Nation, be true to yourself and speak up!

E.M. Henning
grand isle, vt.

The only organization that looks as carefully as you do to implicate Hillary Clinton in all sorts of evil deeds, and looks as carefully as you do to find unflattering photos of her to amplify your nonsense, is the Republican Party.
John Polifronio
los angeles


My article “The New Green Economy” [Nov. 16] stated: “The IPCC provides conservative benchmarks as to what is required to stabilize the average global temperature at its current level of around 60.3 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 3.6 degrees (2 degrees Celsius) above the preindustrial average of 56.7 degrees.” That sentence should not have included the phrase “at its current level.” It is also more reliable to refer to changes in average global temperatures, rather than absolute temperature levels. The sentence should therefore read, in full, “The IPCC provides conservative benchmarks as to what is required to stabilize the average global temperature at around 3.6 degrees (2 degrees Celsius) above the preindustrial average.”

In addition, my discussions on the emissions-reduction goals set by the IPCC were accurate approximations derived from both the IPCC’s Fourth (2007) and Fifth (2014) Assessment Reports. My article did not go through all of the steps I took to derive and summarize these approximations. I would be happy to share that research with interested readers.

Robert Pollin
amherst, mass.