Thursday, December 31, 2020
Thursday, November 26, 2020
I came across this essay on the way to something else:
The essay originally appeared in the January 2007 issued of Harper's Magazine.
Monday, November 9, 2020
Joe Biden has won the election for president. It will be a narrower margin, however, than the polls originally predicted, to the embarrassment of the pollsters. I lay much of Biden’s underperformance at the feet of the Democratic Party leadership, but that is a subject for another time.
Beyond advanced age, however, Biden has several weaknesses. But as things now stand, there was simply no choice for the knowledgeable and intelligent voter. Another four years of Trump would have brought about the end of the American experiment. Throughout our history, powerful plutocratic forces have attacked our democratic-republican political system over and over. Fortunately, this nation has proved time and again that it can meet the challenges with courage, determination, and luck.
The elevation of Donald Trump to the presidency was only the latest of these attempts by those same forces to turn a democratic republic into an authoritarian state, ruled by the wealthy and powerful.
Joe Biden poses a danger to the republic of a more subtle nature. He is unquestionably a good man, but like all humankind, he is flawed. Some colossal errors of judgment have marked his political career. These errors are a clue to help us predict how President Biden will run his presidency.
When Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, a corrupt and injurious law that benefitted the credit card industry and creditors in general, I vowed never to vote for him under any circumstances. Then I turned around and voted for the Obama/Biden ticket twice. I voted for him again this year, a textbook example of being forced to choose a lesser evil. It is an excellent practice to refrain from making rash vows. Who can foretell the future?
But I digress.
Sunday, October 18, 2020
1. Enact programs that enable them to survive economically;
2. Let them know what you are doing;
3. Invite them to participate in planning the transition.
3. Factors, Considerations, and Obstacles. If the people of the World are to survive and live decent lives, there is no way we can continue to live the way we presently live. An important step to stave off an ecological catastrophe and possible extinction involves agriculture and ranching:Our nation/world must change some of its eating habits, particularly with respect to our consumption of dairy products, meat, poultry, fish, and other animal products. In addition to their environmental danger they are detrimental to human health;
- Dairy consumption is declining and will continue to decline. The imperative is to soften the transition to either farming or another environment-friendly employment;
- These changes, supra, are necessary for health, environment and climate. Dairy farming must be cut back and made more humane. The government must aid dairy farmers and point them to several viable alternatives. The costs of changing from dairy farming to almost any other kind of agriculture are high. Dairy farming equipment has little in common with, for example, the equipment used in horticulture. That’s how it appears to me, although I am neither dairy farmer nor horticulturist;;
- Government must aid rural areas by supplying financial aid to avoid hardship during the transition;
- The use of fuel and fertilizer made from petroleum and natural gas, requirements of industrial farming, must be drastically reduced. There is no way to avoid this if we are to stabilize or reduce greenhouse gases;
- Government must provide research to aid rural areas with knowledge and technology to make the transition away from environmentally destructive activities. The transition will render many businesses unprofitable, and their owners and employees must be aided, as I stated above;
- A partial transition to animal powered agriculture will not only be possible, but it might be necessary;
- In the long run (which is becoming shorter), the mass production of beef is not sustainable,1 but world demand for beef is rising. Unfortunately, the beef industry has usually been profitable, so widespread resistance to any moves to change its business model is likely. Much research will be necessary to determine the appropriate strategy to change minds, and much of that research must involve sociology and psychology. A ranchers' mindset is a universe away from a farmer’s mindset. The one thing we must avoid is for climate change itself to destroy the cattle business through destruction of either grazing lands or feed crops. The irony of the beef industry destroying itself by irresponsibly contributing to climate change is an irony too awful to contemplate.
- A similar analysis applies to the poultry industry.2
1. Much of the cost of raising beef cattle is subsidized or externalized through depletion of aquifers, lack of safe disposal of animal waste, and the raising of feed grains, especially corn. Ranching is partly subsidized by the use of public lands at below-market rents. Corn is subsidized by requiring gasoline to include 10% alcohol. Antibiotics, used by ranchers and feedlots to stimulate growth, promotes bacterial resistance and thus constitutes a public health hazard.
2. Producers of industrial chicken give their chickens growth hormones and antibiotics to fatten and protect them from disease caused by the crowded and unsanitary conditions in which they are raised. Today mature chickens must be sold in 15–30 days or they will die from the effects of these substances. There is a growing recognition that these practices constitute a health hazard to consumers and there is supposedly work in progress to develop more benign substitutes.
Friday, October 16, 2020
The Trump administration’s handling of the Coronavirus was criminally negligent, and Trump, along with many of his appointed sycophants in the White House, should go to jail.
After reading Inside the Fall of the CDC on the ProPublica website, I am so enraged that I can barely type. The evidence in the article confirms that many—perhaps even a majority—of the 210,000 deaths from the virus were the direct outcome of actions (and failures to act) by the president, enabled by the pusillanimity of the CDC leadership.
If you voted for Trump, you voted for a pathological narcissist, unprepared and unfit for the office of president or any other office of trust.
You voted for a grifter, a compulsive liar, an authoritarian, and an aspiring dictator, devoid of respect for the American people, the U.S. Constitution, or our laws.
You voted for death.
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Every time I peruse the media, I see a story about a very important person in the national government having a meltdown.
Just what in the hell is a meltdown and why is it important? The US is not ancient Rome or Babylon. Meltdowns by absolute sovereigns are serious stuff; heads roll. Here, people are not punished (at least in theory) without due process, which usually requires the decision of a jury. Citizens are mostly immune to the megalomania of powerful persons.
So why is it newsworthy that Trump or McConnell or Pelosi or Schumer throw what we southerners call a “hissy fit”?
It matters just as much as the color of their underwear. In other words, it doesn’t matter at all. It only matters what these public servants do or don’t do. The rest is puff.
Meltdowns are nuclear reactor accidents, like Chernobyl and Fukushima, not displays of presidential displeasure. ↩
Saturday, October 10, 2020
I just read a column in Scheerpost.com by Chris Hedges, writer, Presbyterian minister, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. The title: Trump’s Barrett Nomination Another Step Toward Christian Fascism.
Hedges is alarmist, but he has good reason:
[C]apitalism, in the hands of the Christian fascists, has become sacralized in the form of the Prosperity Gospel, the belief that Jesus came to minister to our material needs, blessing believers with wealth and power. The Prosperity Gospel delights the corporations that have carried out the slow-motion corporate coup. This is why large corporations such as Tyson Foods, which places Christian Right chaplains in its plants, Purdue, Wal-Mart, and Sam’s Warehouse, along with many other corporations, pour money into the movement and its institutions such as Liberty University and Patrick Henry Law School. This is why corporations have given millions to groups such as the Judicial Crisis Network and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to campaign for Barrett’s appointment to the court. Barrett has ruled consistently in favor of corporations to cheat gig workers out of overtime, [to] green light fossil fuel extraction and pollution and [to] strip consumers of protection from corporate fraud. The watchdog group Accountable.US found that as a circuit court judge, Barrett “faced at least 55 cases in which citizens took on corporate entities in front of her court and 76% of the time she sided with the corporations.” (Emphasis added)
Read Hedges’s column and take heed.