Sunday, September 02, 2018

One last shot at sanity?

(The following is a contribution from David Jay Morris, a faithful reader.)

The world is in a real crisis – and it is growing.

Everybody knows it, but do enough of us appreciate just how bad the situation really is?

Around the globe, the liberal democratic order is crumbling. What’s emerging in its place is not a socialist utopia, or even the libertarian pipe-dream of a perfect free-market economy. What we are getting instead is crude authoritarian kleptocracy – government by a set of gangsters whose prime motivation seems to be greed and self-interest. People who couldn’t care less how much damage they do as long as they get their cut.

Regular readers of the Cannonfire blog know just how thin a thread is keeping American democracy from collapse. They already understand the extraordinary depth of ignorance, racism, sexism, narcissism and corruption with which Trump has conducted his affairs for decades. They know that the Russians have Trump – in the recently reported words of Christopher Steele – “over a barrel” and that our alleged president shows every sign of being quite willing to put Putin’s interests over those of the United States. They clearly see that Trumpism has become a genuine cult, and that his happily brainwashed acolytes will do anything at all – anything – to protect him from accountability (and themselves from having to honestly examine their own foul belief systems.) There is no need for me to re-document any of this here. If you need further convincing, just go back and take a look at any number of the excellent columns our host Joseph has posted over the last three years, or check out a few reports such as these:

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/aug/31/active-measures-film-documentary-russia-trump

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/08/convergence-is-worse-than-collusion/567368/

https://truthout.org/articles/is-there-a-cult-of-trump/

Terrifying as this is, however, is the danger we now face even worse?

Have we gone beyond the realm of what – in a properly functioning universe - would have been a script for a political thriller that would have been rejected as too far-fetched by any self-respecting Hollywood studio? Have we now entered the territory of what ought to be apocalyptic grade B science fiction, in which the very survival of the human race – and who knows how much more life on earth – is at stake?

Looking at the latest climate change data – and verifying events in the news almost every day – the answer for that would seem to be yes.

A frequent claim of climate change deniers is that the science still isn’t settled, and in that they are actually right. The oil company shills and various right-wing nutcases would have us believe that the range of the disagreement is between those who deny the problem exists at all, and the mainstream UN position as outlined by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - which basically warns that we will have at least a 2oC temperature rise by the end of century if we don’t take action - and the results will be catastrophic.) In the world of actual measurable data, scientific inquiry and fact-based hypotheses, however, the IPCC position can safely be considered the most conservative reasonable estimate of what’s to come. At the other end of the debate spectrum, some scientists believe that, in the very worst case, a series of catastrophic tipping points could soon be passed, which could lead to the virtual extinction of the human race as early as 2021. That’s the actual range of the legitimate debate.

The real alarmists point especially to the potential danger of rapid warming in the arctic leading to the sudden release of giga-tons of methane (a worse greenhouse gas than CO2) now frozen in the arctic seabed and tundra, which could, in turn, set in motion an irreversible feedback loop of atmospheric warming and arctic ice thawing that could result in temperature increases in our lifetimes (and I am 67) of up to 10oC.

For a well-documented, although not peer-reviewed, look at this argument, check out these links:

https://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/16/the-dreaded-methane-veil/

http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2017/05/abrupt-warming-how-much-and-how-fast.html

http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2014/06/arctic-atmospheric-methane-global-warming-veil.html

And for some more mainstream supporting information:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/aug/06/domino-effect-of-climate-events-could-push-earth-into-a-hothouse-state

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2018/unexpected-future-boost-of-methane-possible-from-arctic-permafrost

Yikes!

In light of these dire possibilities, some think the Paris Climate Accords were far too little, far too late, but at least they were something. With aggressive U.S. leadership they might well have kick-started a serious global effort to do something about the looming calamity.

Instead we have Trump.

Instead the U.S. is running full-speed in exactly the wrong direction.

Under Trump and his minions, everything put in place under Obama aimed at mitigating climate change is being undone – and why? Are we to believe that Trump has carefully studied the science, weighed the various arguments and reached a considered decision based on the facts? Pu-leez! It’s all about more money for his buddies in the oil industry, saying a big F*** you to the left and taking petulant delight in erasing everything accomplished by our first African-American president.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/03/trumps-war-on-the-climate-begins/519159/

Do we have time for even one more day of this? Maybe not. What is the single action that will start the cycle of unending, irreversible feedback? No one knows – but do we really want to find out? Every day Trump stays in power, the closer and more inevitable it becomes.

And – as Cannonfire readers know so well – every day Trump remains in power the less likely it becomes that we will ever see him out of it.

Bluntly put, the election this fall may well be our final off-ramp on our highway to hell, our last shot at sanity. If Democrats fail to gain control of at least the House of Representatives and much more influence at state levels, it’s pretty much game over. Trump is aggressively following the tried and true Putin playbook for unravelling a democracy and if he has two more years without any serious checks on his ambition, my bet is that he will win.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Road-Unfreedom-Russia-Europe-America/dp/184792526X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1535867693&sr=1-1&keywords=timothy+snyder

All investigations will be shut down, buried or curtailed, the press will soon enough be cowed, the killings and imprisonments will begin and, in the end, all serious opposition will be crushed.

The stage for utter climate catastrophe will be well and truly set.

If we even make it to that point, that is. With such a stubborn, self-centered, uninformed and downright unhinged person having his hand on the big red button, the possibility of his blundering somehow into an all-out nuclear war also cannot be ignored.

Make no mistake, even if the Democrats prevail in the elections, the survival of American democracy – and with it any serious chance of forestalling the worst – is by no means certain. The cult of Trump will not suddenly see the error of its ways and go quietly into that good night. They will fight tooth and nail with every trick in the book to maintain the power of their dear leader, and I for one fully expect to see blood in the streets before it all is over.

So much more will need to be done before the world can start to breathe a sigh of relief, but if the Republicans majorities stand, the rest will be virtually impossible.

That Trump and his allies – both Russian and domestic – will pull out all the stops in trying to steal another election this fall is also a given. And it is no means a given that they will accept the result if they lose.

The only possible antidote is for EVERYONE in the US who is eligible to vote and isn’t a die-hard Trump cultist to make sure they are registered and cast a ballot. Only an incontrovertible and obvious landslide – not a blue wave but a huge blue tsunami can save us.

It’s as simple as that.

#####

By David Jay Morris

September 2, 2018

About the author: Now semi-retired, long-time believer in progressive causes David Jay Morris is a former international news editor and columnist for the Guam Daily Post and has worked for the New York Daily News and Long Island Business Review. Holding British-American dual nationality, he now lives in the UK with his wife and three dogs and works part-time as a teacher, Japanese – English translator and editor.

P.S. – This is the first of four articles I hope to write over the next several months. The next will be an updating of the piece Joseph was kind enough to let me post shortly after the 2016 election examining the underlying causes of that catastrophe.

http://cannonfire.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/a-slow-motion-coup-detate.html

Following that will be an examination of the kind of actions that will need to be taken if the Democrats get back enough power to make any of it possible. The final one will be some musings on the kind of world we could have if enough of us come to our senses in time.

P.P.S. – As a kind of teaser for my next offering, let me throw out one thought I’ve been having about one of the things Joseph (and almost nobody else) has been discussing – kompromat. Like Joseph, I’ve been coming to the conclusion that nothing else adequately explains the extraordinary way the leaders of the Republican Party, especially in Congress, have been falling into line behind Trump.

What I’ve been wondering about, however, is if personal, one-by-one kompromat – mainly of the sexual or financial variety, one would suppose – is enough to explain such a rapid and wide-spread phenomenon. Do Trump and/or his minders in Moscow just have an extensive dossier of individual misdeeds, or is there something more there? Something party-wide whose exposure would seriously threaten the survival of the whole Republican Party and brand?

One candidate for this might be concrete evidence of the Republican tampering with election tabulating machines and software since 2004 or earlier that many of us have long suspected. Could the Russian penetration of state voter databases and other systems been either aimed at this, or else just serendipitously yielded (or pointed them to) such evidence?
Comments:
The liberal democratic order has never existed around the world.
No thanks to the United States.
So if you want to talk about the demise of democracy in the US, confine your comments to here and now.
 
First impression reading the first sentence.

 
If you want to talk Trump-Russia-Climate Change you're missing the elephant in the room. If there is anybody to realistically think that global warming will work to their benefit, it's the Russians. The melting of Arctic sea ice is creating an economic boom of transport and oil exploration/drilling in northern Russia/Siberia. Russia is working great guns to take advantage of this opportunity.

While the U.S. wheat belt slowly migrates north into Canada, Russia is chomping at the bit to develop Siberia as a major world producer of soybeans. If the north keeps warming then Russia can sell China all the soybeans it can eat. All while killing drought shuts down the California soybean fields.

And selling petroleum is Russia's economy. Putin wants to increase oil exploration and production, not throttle it back. Of anybody in the world, the Russians are the one's with the closest chance of riding this global warming wave to power and prosperity, if even for awhile. They have a genuine motivation to play this to their economic and strategic advantage.

Where does all the crazy anti-science nonsense on YouTube come from? Russians have the skill, motivation, and history to mount a psy-op campaign to sow doubt about the value of science to our society. It's documented that they've been doing it with the vaccine controversies. It doesn't just stop there. Russia is actually playing the anti-science psy-op climate change operation as a weapon against the United States.

Mueller is investigating the Republican party under RICO statutes. Russia has been funneling dirty money into the Republican party leadership and a large number are tainted. And they know that Putin holds all those receipts. And of course the Russians have a kompromat file on every relevant Republican politician. Of course they have such a file on Democrats too.
 
Thanks for this post.

As horrible as Trump is, he is a distraction from really key issues as you have discussed. Any, and I mean any, other Republican would be pursuing all of the same policies regarding the environment and climate.

I'll be looking forward to following installments.

Tom
 
Comparing Private Sector behavior to Political Behavior is a mistake. Democrats continue to make mistake by offering no acknowledgement that they made mistakes in 2016 and prior. Progressivism is Ageist in Nature. Hillary Clinton is doubling down on Progressivism.
Progressives are bitter that they lost an Election in which 90% of the Heartland voted in a majority for Trump and Progressives continue to double down that embarrassing Trump and exposing his private affairs, both business and romantic, will get him impeached. Yet it was Progressives who believe Bernie Sander's BS and either did not vote, or voted for an independent candidate.
Hillary Clinton continues to youngster dive with her Onward Together campaign. She has re invented herself from the Moderate Democrat who could have made great decisions that would not have alienated any one group, to a petulant politician who wants to lead a charge against the 90% of the land that voted Majority Republican in 2016.
All this because she won't accept that the quid pro quo deal she had with Barack Obama was a mistake.
 
I saw the documentary referenced, as it came on the torrent site front pages. Probably the first one to turn up there so prominently since Clinton Cash. It interviews Hilary Clinton. She says Putin is "in to manspreading" and tells a story about Putin's dad finding his wife, Putin's mother, in a pile of corpses in the street during the siege of Staligrad and bringing her back to life so she could birth Putin. That's the sort of intellectual prowess that decided the election.
 
I kind of agree with Anon 1249, Putin's Cch play seems to be that the sea level rise won't affect Moscow. Only St Petersberg will be messed up by the rising waters.

But unless he has a way to stop the clathrates from escaping, the methane that will explode out of Siberia and the Arctic Ocean (at 25X the re-radiative strength of CO2) he will lose out when they heat up by 10C. At the same time, Putin's climate game has another serious hole in it. The "Cold Blob" is back in the North Atlantic. Eventually, the cold blob may shut down the AMOC and the whole thermohaline conveyor. How warm will Moscow be when that shuts down? Probably as warm as Yellowknife or Moosejaw up here in Canada. Siberia is going to be colder than Kangerlusuaaq in Fenruary. Good luck with those sybeans. Looks like we're all going to have to eat Methylococaus Capsulatus Goo https://www.cnet.com/news/nasa-astronauts-poop-waste-food-microbes-penn-state/ ...the Goo goes down well with (lots and lots of) Tunnel Vision IPA - beer made from wastewater (pee).
 
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this website is really awesome.
 
My opinion: The Democrats made two mistakes what got us to here.
1992 Bill Clinton offered an olive branch to republicans instead of reopening the Iran-Contra investigation and exposing all the players who then went on to work their magic in the days following 911.
2006 Freshly minted House Speaker apparent, Nancy Pelosi, spitting in the face of voters who wanted hearings to make another Iraq impossible with her, "Impeachment is off the table".
Will 2018 be the year of another Democratic Party fail?
Unless Democrats recognize republicans play politics like a blood sport and react accordingly, the Magic 8 Ball says, "Outlook dim"
In conclusion, Democrats have this uncanny ability to choose the wrong action.
See: Schumer caves to Moscow McConnell on lower court judge appointments.
 
In terms of one last shot at sanity, why won't the Democrat Party try and make amends with some portion of the 90% of the country's geography that voted in the majority for Donald Trump? The quid pro quo agreement between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton was a mistake. Obama's lack of empathy when the HELOC resets started in 2014 and have now reached over 100 billion dollars in resets with no remedy, then add in Obama's comment before the 2008 Democrat nomination when called the vast swaths of the Heartland Bitter, Gun Loving, Bible Thumpers.
Instead of backtracking on any of these issues, the Democrats are doubling down hard on the younger crowd while accusing of those who disagree with their positions as being racists. Democrat Politicians are too busy pointing fingers at Trump and his Racist supporters to do any internal soul searching.
 
Actually, I agree with Alessandro. A generation of males are doing worse than their fathers and gradfathers. Instead of talking to these people the way FDR would have, too many Dems have been calling these males -- at least the white ones -- "privileged."

That has been an unpardonable mistake.
 
These males are privileged and entitled. Most are racist and sexist assholes. Fuck every last one of them. You can't do one damned thing about them because the 1950s are long since dead and buried. It isn't going back to the days when these guys made inflated "family wage" jobs while women were kicked out of the workplace to stay home and be babymakers. Understand the mentality of these alt-right assholes and write them the fuck off.
 
White males ARE privileged in our society whether you like it or not. It is a FACT. They have complete and total unearned privilege. Even now. Until the past couple of decades, they could graduate from high school and point and get a high-paying job while women and minorities had to fight for the crumbs. You think that was a good thing? White males almost always made and still make inflated pay thanks to the "family wage" system, the remnants of which still exist. The family wage idea was the worst pile of shit idea that ever came down the pike. It formed the basis of sex discrimination in the workplace. It was reserved ONLY for men-women were forced to take low paid jobs which were low paid to force them to get married and men got sexual access and free domestic labor in return. Yeah, that was the fucking ticket, a one-way ticket to poverty if you are a woman. Just because somebody has a dick between his legs and white skin doesn't mean he is entitled to make high pay. THIS is what is motivating the alt-right. These entitled males-and entitlement is the underlying motive spurred by racism and sexism-are having hissy fits because now that actually have to get off their asses and actually do something instead of thinking they didn't have to do anything to make "good money." The high pay isn't guaranteed--hell, even a job isn't guaranteed just because you are a white dude. When the jobs started being outsourced and ruinous trade agreements put in thirty years ago, where were these dudes? Voting for the very politicians that were destroying their way of life. I used to care about them. I don't give a shit about them now. These entitled white males can fucking die because you cannot reason with them. Racism and sexism have been indoctrinated in them since they were kids.I live around these people, I went to school with these people. You cannot change them. These posts here that whine about the alt-right and we should kiss their asses make my ass ache. The naivete is unbelievable. I am ANGRY when I read posts by people who really don't understand what the alt-right really is about. It is racism and sexism that underlie it. Do you really want the 1950s to come back, and good racism and sexism comes back? This has nothing whatsoever to do with FDR.
 
I do want the 1950s to come back. Not the bad parts; the good parts. Strong unions and a bipartisan pro-Keynesian consensus. That attitude should be no surprise to you; I directly the same thing in my profile.

I think you would rather have another hundred years of Trumpism than give up on your hatred of males. (And it's not really just WHITE males, is it?) There are other internecine conflicts that the Alt Rightists have cleverly seized upon.

I live in a town filled with shuttered factories, and I'm here to tell you: The way to win back the working people is NOT to tell some guy who lost his job (and who will never again have a really GOOD job) "You're privileged." The way to win him over is to tell him that he's been shafted.

Democrats used to do that. When Democrats did that they took over the entire culture -- strong unions and a bipartisan pro-Keynesian consensus.

Dems forgot what worked. We let identity politics take over.

And what happened? Racism and misygony are arguably worse now than ever before in my memory, and my memory goes back to the 60s. Even THEN nobody would have treated a woman the way Hillary was treated, and the cops weren't killing black people right and left without pushback from the community. I'm serious: Compare th Sandra Bland case or the Eric Garner case to the incident described by Malcolm X here: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/7041/. Things are WORSE now.

Economically, we are slipping back; back in the days of the pro-Keynesian consensus, we kept surging forward. We have a resurgent pro-fascist movement which has placed one of their own in the White House.

What more evidence do we need? Identity politics (a.k.a. treating whites and males as The Other) has been tried and tried for decades. This approach is a proven loser. IT DOES NOT WORK.

Nevertheless, the advocates of Identity politics are like libertarians: They keep applying the same trick not because the trick works but because ideology tells them that their beloved trick SHOULD work.

If you can't get past your hatred of white males, you are a Trump voter. Pure and simple.
 
Is it possible to separate what ails us from what will cure us?
Is it possible as the " Christians" say to hate the sin but not the sinner?
My point Joseph is, the same principal applies when you tell someone to get over their distaste for white males as when you say don't ho after whitr male privilege.
What brings groups together is not " get over it" but rather " I hear you, but".
I guess, I am saying, apply the same methodology to all groups.
 
An interesting well written and rather terrifying article, thank-you David. I have joined voices all over the https://secure.avaaz.org/page/en/ taking action on many issues addressed in the article as I am not an American voter.
 
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