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Showing posts from 2016

Trumpelstiltskin

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Once upon a time (November 2016, to be precise) there was a people, 99% of whom were poor, but who had beautiful children. Now it happened that they got into a conversation with the Federal Reserve, and to make an impression on them they said, "We have children who can make America great again."
The head of the Federal Reserve said to the people, "That is an art that I really like. If your children are as skillful as you say, then I will create mountains of debt and put them to the test."
When the children came of age, their parents encouraged them to get college degrees with the easy money dispensed by the Fed.  They were rewarded with mediocre jobs. The bankers said, "Get to work now. Work night and day, and if by the end of each month you have not spun straw into gold, so to speak, then you will have to die." Then the college grads were all alone.
The poor people's children sat there, and for their lives they did not know what to do. They had no id…

The Greatest

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The richest man in the world may be Vladimir Putin, according to financial executive Bill Browder. While the wealth of their country is siphoned off to secret Swiss bank accounts, everyone but the oligarchs struggle to scratch out a living, just as the Russians have throughout history.

Donald Trump would naturally admire the richest man in the world and, since he is taking over leadership of the richest country in the world, would naturally consider it quite appropriate that he would be the rightful recipient of that honor, given enough time to exact all of the tribute possible from his loyal subjects. Until he was elected President, all he had to work with were a smattering of resorts, hotels, a school, sundry consumer product lines, and the Trump Foundation. It turns out that he used the foundation to support anything Trump, just as the name implies.

If he is anything like his pal, Putin, the Trump Foundation was just a warm-up. At 71, he really needs to kick it into high gear in or…

Do and/or Die

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Peter Wadhams has ample reason to believe that when a truck ran him off the road, it wasn't just an accident. The Cambridge professor is a recognized and outspoken Arctic sea ice expert who is calling for a dramatic curtailment in fossil fuel use, lest the arctic meltdown shift into a cataclysmic series of positive feedback loops. At one point, the professor speculated that oil industry or government agencies had hired the driver to kill him, just as three other sea ice scientists encountered suspicious demises in the past few years. Causes of their untimely deaths were ascribed to falling down stairs, lightning, and vehicular collision while biking.

Death threats and assassination are nothing new to climate and environmental activists. The least you can do when so threatened is to put it on record, prompting an investigation if you are killed. Professor Michael E. Mann, famous for the hockey-stick graph of global temperatures, recently leveraged his potential martyrdom in a push …

Chasing Windmills

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We know President-elect Trump finds wind power disturbing, especially when viewed from his golf resort in Scotland. He also fails to see the urgency of getting off fossil fuels, and seeks to exploit all manner of polluting and clean technologies to grow the U.S. economy. His pick for Secretary of the Interior, +Congressman Ryan Zinke (MT), seems to be less hostile toward climate-conscious measures, which is some relief since he will head the department which oversees offshore wind infrastructure.

The first U.S. installation of an offshore wind facility started regular operation last week with five big wind turbines supplying Block Island, RI. With its slow start, offshore wind must be added more quickly than land-based and other renewable technologies in order to become 19% of total electric capacity for coastal states by 2030 as proposed in the Green New Deal. The GND goes into some detail about the need for help from the government to overcome market impediments in order to allow sc…

Trump's Biggest Gamble

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As the Trump team prepares to dismantle every U.S. mechanism for reducing climate change, there will be dramatic responses by those who understand the urgency of the problem. We are already seeing the early stages of war breaking out between climate savvy entities and the climate-ignorant Trump team. The Energy Department, NASA, NOAA, and the state of California are all resisting moves by the incoming administration to quash U.S. participation in the fight to save the planet.

Ignoring the problem in the U.S. for four years would make it ever more doubtful that humans and a multitude of other species will survive the century. As data is accumulated and analyzed, new positive feedback loops are seen to emerge in the developing drama of Earth's ecosystem. These include recent concerns that soil biota populate excessively in a warming environment and that lakes and chutes under the East Antarctic ice shelf could contribute to more rapid sea level rise. Another term for "positive …

Trump's Worldview

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There is an urge many of us feel to attribute benevolence to our highest leaders. When Donald Trump says his job creation and economic performance is going to be a beautiful thing to watch, we want to believe that he is thinking of his people, like Santa working hard all year round so everyone down below will get to enjoy the surprises he has to bring.

Well, boys and girls, I hate to have to tell you that there is no such thing as Santa Claus -- but there may be a Grinch. You can put aside any notions of Trump or his administration working on your behalf. He and many of his crew don't believe in that. They are objectivists, followers of the Ayn Rand philosophy that we should all be out to maximize our own happiness under laissez faire government with an economy in which "the lazy" fare not well at all.

Objectivism deplores the idea of sacrifice, so don't count on Trump or many of his cabinet to give up ongoing business interests in order to remain objective for the c…

It's Gonna Take a Lotta Love

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Russia's treachery in the campaign of The Don (our Big Twit, not their big river) is forgivable when viewed in context of the way the U.S., mainly under Ronald Reagan, brashly drove the U.S.S.R. into economic ruin. Russians and citizens of its former republics were thrown into dire circumstances as their economies collapsed. For the most part, they recovered. Now it's our turn. While economic collapse is pending for us and the rest of the world, we are faced with the more present danger of navigating through a sea of lies spawned from previous lies and from a profusion of liars made to appear acceptable by our prospective Dissembler-in-Chief.
Little Brother A culture of lying has brought us growing numbers of whack jobs like Dylan Roof and Comet Ping Pong Rambo, Edgar Welch - guys who latched on to fake news or warped values and became strategic corporals, taking abstruse memes off the Internet as statements of commander's intent. The establishment's reaction may favor …

The Big Twit

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Donald Trump is already beginning to measure up to one of his presidential models. Like Ronald Reagan before him, he adroitly falls back on the plea of ignorance, as in his Time "Person of the Year" interview in which he claimed that he did not believe that Russia interfered in the election. Where you stand depends on where you sit, and sitting in the cat-bird seat means that Trump doesn't have to take a stand on much of anything that doesn't comport with his own designs.

His designs appear to lean toward undermining democracy in America, just like the Russian cyber-warriors he tacitly defends. He and his party have nearly squelched the recount efforts aimed at reforming our election process to be more equitable and less prone to gaming. His high tempo tweeting habit gives him a special connection to a significant segment of the American public - setting him up to be some sort of Dear Leader, but undermining the traditional connection of lawmakers to their constituen…

The Truth Shall Set You Free

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The disclosure of how Russian hackers have systematically undermined democracy in the U.S. by flooding the Internet with false or misleading stories has unmoored me. Not that I think the U.S. doesn't sometimes intentionally deceive Russians, but it would be hard to curate a portfolio of our blatant lies on the Internet as mendacious as that of the Russians. Besides, information fed to the Russian people weighs far less than that fed to the American public, since Russians are less empowered than U.S. citizens to influence or participate in their government. It's OK, though. I get it. Even if your country is defeated economically, information is one other means to conduct a cold war.

The cold war was plainly on again after Russia helped take down Malaysian flight MH17 over Ukraine. It was then that I noticed many of the websites that I was using to help make sense of current events accepted the Russian version of things with no hesitation. Regardless, I persisted for years in re…

The Storm before the Calm

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If you think that the suspicions of a Russia-hacked election are overblown, I'll go you one better - Trump is an unwitting Russian agent (or useful idiot, if you prefer) in their campaign to reclaim Eastern Europe. Not that I particularly care who has dominion in that part of the world (as long as they are civil), but Russia's prize is more valuable than the grave of civilization we are fighting for in the Middle East.

In the climax phase of the 4th Turning, we can expect a big war to occur. The trouble with Hillary's ken of going head-to-head with Russia over their jealous urge to retake old territory is that we would risk starting a major nuclear war. A major non-nuclear war in the Middle East is preferable, and that is the likely course a Trump administration will take. If the Trump's election is overturned, we might sooner find ourselves in a civil war, with all of our "well regulated" militias ready to stand their ground regarding who should run the repu…

Trump's Legacy

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With a view toward resolving the Global War on Terror, Donald Trump looks like he could be a useful idiot after all, possibly for two terms. The fact that he is hiring a security team highly disposed to vindicating our fighting forces, along with his own evident interest in the Middle East, hints that he will redouble our efforts to stamp out Islamic radicalism like we did with Naziism seventy years ago.

If we undertake to defeat Iranian state-sponsored terrorism, the "simple" step of killing the theocracy from the top down seems to be an obvious objective. How different is that from taking out non-state actors like Anwar al-Awlaki? This would spark wholesale cultural upheaval in Iran and give popular democratic movements an opportunity to step in. In Arab countries, chopping off Shia's head would alleviate centuries-long tensions between Sunnis and Shia, giving radical Sunni groups one less reason to be so pissed off. I can picture A. Khamenei hunkering down like the Fu…

A Possible End to The 4th Turning

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Lately, Al Qaeda and it's more evil offspring, ISIS, have been the center of attention in the erstwhile named Global War on Terror. In terms of state-sponsored terrorism, however, no organization exceeds the Iranian Quds force record for defiance of the U.S. in the Middle East. All three networks must be defeated to extricate us from our current fourth turning. Expect a lot more U.S. military activity in the region under our next Commander-in-Chief.

According to an op-ed in the the New York Times
Mr. Trump’s immediate position on the Iran deal will be one of the first critical tests for his presidency. [If the treaty is abandoned,] because the international coalition that previously supported sanctions on Iran will not be put back together, America’s economic leverage on Iran will be much weaker, increasing the likelihood that Iran will ramp up its nuclear program, and in turn, increasing the risk of American military action.
In addition to forestalling the Iranian nuclear progra…

Nimrod in Winter

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"Take a deep breath," says Maryland governor Larry Hogan, while we wait to see what The Donald does to calm the concerns that most Americans harbor over what our clunky process of selecting a President has cranked out. "But don't hold that breath," Hogan should have added, since the likelihood that a Trump presidency will succeed in assuaging those concerns is sadly dim, given the season we are in - Winter in the secular cycle of American history.

Photo by Michael Taggart PhotographyIn their prophetic book, The Fourth Turning, Neil Howe and William Strauss, explain that Winter in the 80 - 100 year secular cycle always culminates in a climax of the crisis before moving us into Spring where rebuilding takes place. We have yet to endure the cathartic climax that will allow our country to put behind us the troubling period that began with the attacks of 9/11/2001, shaking our nation to its core. Only after we have emerged from the crisis will we be able to embark on…

In or Out

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Commentators have remarked on Donald Trump's tendency to select people for his cabinet who agree with him, by-and-large. These will be the public faces of his inner circle, circumscribing the value set insiders in the Trump administration will need to uphold. Cross that line, and you are liable to be blackballed.

Favor with the administration will mean a lot under President Trump. He does not easily deal with those he views as outsiders. A psychological profile based on writings, speeches, and behavioral history pegged Trump as a grandiose narcissist comparable to President Andrew Jackson, as well as in having anger as a primary driving emotion. Like Jackson, as a strong authoritarian figure, Trump will have a mandate to keep the good in and the bad out. Jackson gave an example of such abuse of power in the 1820's with the Indian Removal Act, deporting 45,000 native Americans to reservations, including 4,000 Cherokees that didn't finish the journey on the Trail of Tears.

F…

Drawing the Battle Lines

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In the continuing protests, there has been a shift in emphasis from directing ire at the President-elect to protesting the principles that he brings to the office. The Green Party-supported rally to celebrate the death of the TPP sounded this chord - calling for a stop to Trumpism, not just Trump. This widens the field to include not only the cronies Trump is surrounding himself with, but also the emerging flock of haters that helped propel him to office.

The most popular rendering of "Trumpism" is the one that the University of Maryland students have raised their outcry against, i.e. the xenophobic aspects of the Trump agenda. Implicit in the slogan "Make America Great Again" is "We are Better than You." So by getting rid of non-citizens, we can instantly prove how much better we are without those encumbrances. The Green Party platform shows a much more diplomatic understanding of relationships with foreign citizens and includes the inspiring goal that …

The Heroes Emerge

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Nearly as shocking as the election victory of Donald Trump was the seemingly spontaneous emergence of high schoolers in the public arena to protest that victory. We didn't have any of that at the high school I attended in the early 1970's, though colleges were commonly besieged by protests against the Vietnam war. Back then, Trump had his own conflicts to deal with as he was being sued by the Justice Department over discrimination against black rental applicants. The Selma to Montgomery freedom marches of the prior decade probably made some impression on the young Trump, but not enough for him to allow blacks to rent from him. He will probably also too quickly dismiss the kids marching against his pending presidency as spoiled, unfair, and provoked by agitators, but miss the threat that they pose to his longevity in that position.

Many city high schools had walkouts yesterday by demonstrating students, including some in Silver Spring, Maryland. Some combined their numbers with…

The First Casualty of the Trump Presidency - The Trans-Pacific Partnership

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After Trump's election win, the Green Party did not miss a beat. The leadership called for all members to resist Trump and the two-party system that excludes the left from American politics. You can take that only so far without crossing a line that would constitute a felony, but the end result may turn out to be the overthrow of the President.

The Green Party is calling for activists to support  Flush the TPP and Occupy Inauguration. All the while, protests are mounting all over the U.S., including Baltimore. We are close enough to Washington, D.C. to lend our presence to some direct action.

The first of these, a demonstration to warn Congress against passing lame duck legislation to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), starts on Sunday. Organizers advise activists to not be complacent with noises coming out of Congress and the White House about taking the TPP off the agenda, though it seems plausible that they would be reluctant to pursue the treaty with a President-elec…

Carbon Profligates Should Share the Wealth

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At the Conference of Parties (COP) 22 in Marrakesh, Morocco, the question of reparations for climate damage by developed countries may come up again after it became a sticking point in Copenhagen and was finessed out of the agreement in Paris. The Green Party of the U.S., while it embraces environmental justice, doesn't take it that far. Nor is it necessary. To begin with, pushing for countries to compensate others for their losses doesn't get at the source of the emissions at a level that will incite prompt remedial action. It is also questionable justice if parties are retroactively punished for lawful actions.

At COP 21, Dr. James Hansen made it clear that the treaty would not be enforceable and that putting a fee on emissions would be a preferable approach. Rather than exact transfers from one country to another, the carbon fees would be collected internally and distributed to the respective citizens of the country of the carbon profiteering corporation. The fee would thus…

Green - The Party (You Didn't Know) You Want

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Do you think it is any coincidence that the richest state in the country sits on the north side of the repository of all of your federal U.S. tax dollars? Maryland is the wealthiest state in terms of per capita income and millionaires per square mile, so it would appear that the capital in The Capital is being leveraged for private gain not too far away. The rising tide has also kept 90% of boats from grounding, keeping Maryland ahead of most states with respect to poverty rates. This privileged position makes it improbable that any Green Party candidate would succeed in winning an election in Maryland, especially when the Maryland Green Party platform is that of the parent Green Party of the U.S.

One of the reactions that the idea of the somewhat socialist Green Party provokes is that wealth would disperse to the undeserving masses, but why should it, instead, concentrate in the hands of those closest to the halls of power? Is the ability to direct the affairs of a democratic society…

Green is Good

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Intentionally, or not, the new, fascinating CBS TV series "Bull" made a subtle contribution this week to promoting Hillary Clinton's election. The episode featured a female commercial airline pilot on trial for alleged pilot error resulting in the fiery death of 70 passengers. The defense's closing argument was capped with a picture story that asked the jury to identify the hero among a group of children being accosted by a bully. The hero, to the surprise of some of the holdout jurors, was a girl who snitched on the bully. In spite of the odious character opposing her, Hillary Clinton must still overcome the same unconscious bias that some of the jurors harbored.

In my first ever casting of an early vote, I had my ballot scored in less than a minute, not for Hillary, but for two women, nonetheless. Jill Stein and Margaret Flowers, both doctors, were my picks for President and Senator. My Green Party affiliation steered me to these choices, though I know much less ab…

Caveat Empty: The National Flood Insurance Well is Dry

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One reason not much gets done about climate change and sea level rise is that government has coddled communities affected by climate-driven storm surges. Understanding that there are numerous cases which have been left to wallow and others compensated meagerly, it appears that some are nonetheless satisfied, shifting the burden onto their fellow taxpayers for their risky decision to perch themselves on the edge of a sea containing melting ice cubes.
A coddling case in point is the nearby Cove Point neighborhood, Calvert County's most flood-prone community, which is receiving federal grants to allow homeowners to elevate their homes. The same community is also up in arms over the (ill conceived) efforts to make the Cove Point LNG plant export-capable. Their NIMBY campaign stems from concerns for their safety, but the Cove Point plant has been there for some forty years, handling LNG imports, why weren't they protesting then? They bought their homes with full awareness of the pl…

Canoe U - Who Knew?

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Consciousness of global warming will rise with the seas. Other parts of the world, particularly the Far East, will gain consciousness earlier than America, but the truth will become clear to those of us on the east coast faster than you might expect. Studies modeling climate change often select the turn of the next century as the datum for reporting outcomes, leading casual readers to think that the interim won't pose a major problem. In the case of sea level rise, it is important to understand that there is no escape - we are already locked in to being driven back by the sea in many littoral areas regardless of how much we mitigate carbon emissions. The more salient question is: how quickly will the seas continue to rise?

Recently, scientists have found that there is a strong possibility that previous estimates of the inextirpable rate of sea level rise are short by half if the West Antarctic ice shelf calves off into the drink. A study done this year looks at what that could mea…