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Essayist, editor, drummer, and dad thinking about the climate crisis, politics, faith, political theology, policy, and punk rock. Texas forever.

The world is on a course for disaster — maybe civilizational collapse or even extinction. Grief is good, but climate doom and fatalism helps nobody.

Photo by Victor He

“What reinforcement we may gain from Hope, If not, what resolution from despair.” ~ John Milton, Paradise Lost

Time to panic.

The pace of climate change has humanity on a suicidal path.

“We have reached a point where the best-case outcome is widespread death and suffering by the end of this century,” according to a UN human rights report, “and the worst-case puts humanity on the brink of extinction.”

The United States’ faltering response to the coronavirus pandemic has already shown us a glimpse of what can happen when we fail to step up to a societal challenge; when elites prioritize their own problems over our collective wellbeing.

Humanity is facing not only an ecological disaster that could…

How are Sigmund Freud, bananas, a CIA-backed coup in Guatemala, and first-wave feminism connected?

Photo by Matthew Feeney

Public relations, that slick and polished profession, came of age smeared in blood and bananas. It’s a wild story that begins with opera music and Sigmund Freud’s nephew in the early decades of the twentieth century.

The insights of the nascent fields of psychoanalysis and propaganda have shaped our politics, economics, and culture in ways we are just beginning to understand.

At its heart, this is the story of a PR man and his client United Fruit — the American company now known as Chiquita Brands International. It reveals how easily we can all fall prey to the manipulation of…

Texas Democrats find themselves with leverage they didn’t expect.

Photo by Gage Skidmore

For all his tough guy antics, Texas Governor Greg Abbott may have inadvertently given the state’s Democrats a big bargaining chip: More control over the state’s partisan redistricting efforts. The question is, will Democrats use it?

After the end of the regular session of the Legislature and the defeat of two of the governor’s top priorities, he targeted the Legislature’s own budget with a line-item veto to retaliate. This move may have won him a battle, but lost him the war.

“I will veto Article 10 of the budget passed by the legislature ,” he tweeted. “Article 10 funds the…

Christianity and socialism have gotten a bad rap, but they’ve also inspired a lot of radical change for the better.

Photo by Daniel Silliman

Our world isn’t truly the hardscrabble place parched by scarcity and driven by inequity that we’ve been lead to believe. It is, in reality, charged with grandeur and abundance of God. The suffering we see is the price of a society set up to exclude.

Knowing this upends our understanding of the inequalities and suffering we’ve long taken for granted, and our responsibility to our neighbors. It obligates us to change the world.

Today, most people associate Christianity with an extremely conservative brand of politics, with hypocrisy, and with a creeping authoritarianism. They’re not wrong on the whole. …

The brutal winter storms killed dozens in Texas, left millions without heat or water, and saddled many with enormous power bills. And that’s how it’s supposed to work.

The Austin skyline lit up as surrounding areas endured days without power. Photo: Reddit/lil_beefcurtains

Blackouts plunged millions of Texans into the dark and cold for days on end in single-digit temperatures. Hypothermia and carbon monoxide poisoning killed dozens — it may take weeks to count all the dead. A week after the storm stopped Texas in its tracks, a thaw revealed burst pipes, crippled well infrastructure, and a water crisis.

“This is becoming the worst state-level policy disaster since the Flint water crisis,” former mayor of San Antonio Julian Castro told MSNBC. “This is not the breakdown of the system. This is a system that has broken down by design.”

Castro is right, but…

Productivity and quality of life are not mutually exclusive. There are good reasons to let people work from home forever.

Photo by Martin Vorel

Remember when the idea of working from home every day (or any) made management clutch its pearls? It was an issue of technology, the policies, the logistics, or the company culture… or a dozen other excuses. Then the pandemic hit.

As it turns out, your company’s rules about working from home weren’t about what was practical or necessary to get the job done. They were more about the outdated management philosophies — neuroses? — of your boss.

Our coronavirus-induced experiment in long-term work from home has proven largely a success. Office employees and knowledge workers can do most office work…

Was violence inevitable? What the Right’s response to the pandemic, Black Lives Matter, and the election results says about the state of conservatism in 2021.

QAnon conspiracy theorist and Trump supporter Jake Angeli at the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol Photo: Blink O’fanaye

2020 was a dark year, and the American conservative movement rose to meet that darkness. Six days into 2021, they reaped.

A half-dozen senators, led by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), along with more than 120 House representatives ran a gambit to oppose the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Meanwhile, the forces they courted with political theatrics were planning for a civil war. Right-wing Americans radicalized on Facebook and organized on Parler arrived in Washington D.C. ready for revolution.

Before Congress could ceremonially confirm president-elect Joe Biden’s victory, President Donald Trump’s supporters swarmed the Capitol…

A quick look at the history, purpose, and limits of presidential pardon power

(Photo by Jacob Morch on Unsplash)

After four years with a habitually criming president who seems exceptionally fond of surrounding himself with inept lackeys, grifters, and criminal masterminds of the lowest caliber, it was inevitable at the end of his time in office we’d entertain new frontiers in presidential pardon powers.

We live a moment in American history where we very well may find out exactly where the outer limits of presidential pardon power lie, and what kind of heretofore unimaginable situations it could apply to.

George Mason was right — a short presidential pardon origin story

To understand presidential pardons, it’s good to have little American history under your belt.

When the Founding Fathers decided to…

Many Christians say Black Lives Matter, but few would defund the police. Here’s why they’re wrong.

Photo by Pablo Lara

2020 will be remembered for two things: A devastating pandemic and the rallying cry Defund the Police. It was a summer of uprisings. Communities flooded the streets, despite the risks of infection and “less-than-lethal” weaponry, to push back against racist police violence.

Defunding the police has been an undercurrent in activist communities for a long time, but in 2020, those three words moved a host of once-radical ideas to the forefront of mainstream discourse.

Individuals, community groups, book clubs, and even churches began serious discussions about racialized violence, the purposes and origins of policing, and the truly jaw-dropping militarization of…

Nobody was surprised that SCOTUS rejected the Texas lawsuit to meddle in other states’ elections. So why did Paxton pursue it?

Photo from Twitter / @KenPaxtonTX

On Friday, the Supreme Court drop kicked Texas’s lawsuit contesting the election results right out of court. President Donald Trump had described this latest doomed attempt to overturn the election as “the big one.” It was a big disappointment.

The lawsuit challenged the election results in four battleground states: Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. In the filing, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton basically asked the Court to allow Texas to intervene because of the changes these states made to elections in response to coronavirus.

Legal observers described the Texas lawsuit as “utterly ridiculous” and “blisteringly stupid.” In a brief statement

Joel Nihlean

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