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Comment of the Day: No-one will remember us when we’re gone– and only my dog cares

2020-02-02

 

Why didn’t I post this before?  Who, other than us, cares about us?  Who even knows we exist?  No-one but us and God.

From 12/17/2018: Comment appended to a column in the Times discussing the “tragedy” of human extinction and whether it is undesirable or even avoidable:

David
Albuquerque 
Times Pick

Tragedy? In the vast, unknowable stretches of time and space, planets, solar systems, galaxies are created and destroyed regularly without our consideration of the theatrical appeal of this happening. Funny that one would even imagine that the existence of humanity matters in the vastness of the cosmos and the seemingly eternal progression of time.

From our point of view, it’s a disaster.  From the point of view of Earth, it’s just another dust-off.

The above comment drew the response below (and many other responses, less notable):

HT
NYC 

@David All true. However. We are born to care. It is in our wiring that we exist and that we must do everything to continue our existence. And then there is pain and suffering and conflict. It is without meaning that our lives are constructed on this basis. We don’t have anything to do with the fact of our existence and we are doomed to care. If you had asked me, and no one did, I would have done a much better job.

I liked this one best:

john
antigua 

[@David] I too consider our survival to be without significance except in our own minds. I am a bit concerned, however , with the future of my dog who has done no wrong.

(photo courtesy of pixabay.com)

Meets the definition of TREASON: read this comment, in which Trump is heard speculating on how long Ukraine could resist the Russian invasion without American military assistance

2020-01-26

 

This comment comes from the Washington Post and is signed by “Barb against Tyrants”: (the post they commented on was by Jennifer Rubin)

There was something said in the new Parnas audio recording, that is much more significant beyond the discussion of the Ambassador, which meets our legal definition of Treason

“During that discussion, Trump asks a person who appears to be Parnas how long Ukraine would “last in fight against Russia.” Parnas says “without us, not very long,” and another person chimes in, “about 30 minutes.” Months later, Trump would try to cut off military aid to Ukraine.” https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/25/politics/recording-trump-lev-parnas-igor-fruman-ukraine-ambassador/index.html

This quote and Trump’s subsequent actions constitute treason. After that dinner conversation and through the next year Trump CONTINUED conspired with multiple people, both Americans and foreign nationals, in an attempt to aid Russia advance their invasion of Ukraine to diminish Ukraine’s defenses and in doing so directly worked against US National Security. Trump continued with a clear understanding of the consequences of his actions..

Please reopen the Impeachment inquiry in the House NOW and add Treason.

(photo taken by me; I think it’s a buzzard circling over our house.)

TRUMP, trump, trump, trump, trump: it’s the drumbeat of anti-democracy Republicans marching in lockstep to acquit Trump at the impeachment trial. Be afraid. Be very afraid. (Read why here.)

2020-01-26

We already know that no matter what the Democrats say, the Republicans, to a man, will not vote to convict him for abuse of power, bribery, extortion, violation of the election laws (foreign assistance), and violation of the laws around impoundment of Congressionally mandated appropriations.  Not even if he stepped out on Fifth Avenue and shot someone in front of a hundred witnesses.

 

So why are the Democrats so engaged in reciting their evidence of bribery/extortion of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky?  They’d do just as well playing a loop of someone reciting the “transcript” of that notorious July 25, 2019 phone call.  The truth is that the Democrats are just as deluded in their way as the Republicans.  They think that by going through lawful, reasonable, logical steps of investigation, discovery, subpoena of witnesses and documents, and by reciting their evidence for all to hear, that they are going to accomplish something.  The Republicans are deaf to their pleas.

It is clear that the only thing the Democrats can hope to accomplish is to defeat [redacted] at the polls in November.  Until then, Don the Con will continue to run wild, doing anything he pleases (as long as it doesn’t break with his base).  He’s quite likely to be even worse than he was before the impeachment, based on his mistaken idea that he has been publicly exonerated and that he can now exact revenge on those who opposed him.  Don’s base is sure to approve of cruelty towards the disenfranchised, and they won’t notice the moves he takes to consolidate his power and further subvert the power of votes, the ability of people to vote, and the effect of the House’s attempts to control his excesses.

We can hope that there is substantially more evidence that can be uncovered regarding Don’s extortion in Ukraine; already, it seems that there has been a steady drip of relatively minor but damning revelations.  The latest is audio of Don saying, “Get her out tomorrow” [Marie  Yovanovich, former ambassador to Ukraine, appointed under Reagan] — but a year before she actually left.  Why would Don not just fire her way back then??  He surely had the authority.  Either he did not know that he had that ability (which is entirely possible, given the depth of his ignorance) or there was some political reason he couldn’t do it.

In the same audio recording (courtesy of Lev Parnas, under indictment for funnelling foreign campaign money to Republican candidates) Don has a number of other disturbing things to say, but they are overshadowed by his reaction to Parnas’ claim that Yovanovitch bad-mouthed him.  Parnas is heard saying that Yovanovitch told people Don was surely going to be impeached, and to “just wait for it”.  He immediately says “Get her out tomorrow”, but oddly she was not forced out until May 2019.  Why did he wait?  We don’t know.  Perhaps his aides just slow-walked it without realizing the true motives behind the bad-mouthing: they didn’t know that she was threatening to prevent the corrupt moves that Giuliani’s group wanted to make (a money-making scam, probably).

Someone said, “The Republicans will not accept being democratically defeated at the polls.  They will abandon democracy instead.”  This is my greatest fear: Don the Con will narrowly lose the Electoral College (and lose the popular vote by 3 or 4 millions) and will then attempt a coup.

If he wins in November, look for a steady erosion of democracy through targeted voter suppression.  Look for additional chaos in our relations with foreign governments.   Look for expansion of the federal government’s support of religious conservative groups, particularly in subsidies for private religiously-oriented schools.  Look for further deterioration in public schools as a result.

Look for economic problems: the stock market is way overdue for a “correction” after ten years of relatively steady growth.  The Great Recession made things worse for a third of America, and the 1% profited by it handsomely.  Another recession will add to the losses sustained by lower-income people in the last one, from which they have not fully recovered.   The economy is dangerously imbalanced: wealth inequality is the worst it has been since the Great Depression, and as a result, workers can’t buy more stuff to make the country grow.

Don’t look for relief on prescription drug prices because the pharmacy lobby has Don the Con completely under its spell.  Pharmaceutical companies have spent more on lobbying than any other, with the possible exception of military suppliers.  As a result, there will be no action to relieve price increases, which have averaged double inflation or more for years.

Look for more military spending.  Look for attempts to reduce Social Security spending and no action on taxes other than another phony “tax cut”.

Look for open warfare in the courts between Republican and Democratic viewpoints on every subject imaginable.  Eventually, the courts will force Don the Con to reveal his income taxes based on a plain reading of the law– or else they will go completely off the rails, declare the law unconstitutional, and risk being impeached later.  Someday the court cases over Don McGahn’s testimony (and many others) will be resolved.  If they are forced to talk, another impeachment could be in the offing.  If not, there will be further consolidation of the President’s powers and regardless of who is elected thereafter, there will be a distinct risk of fascism ascendant.

Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

America faces existential threats to democracy both from within and without: Russia (by propaganda) and China (by commerce) from without, and [redacted] (by subversion) from within.

2020-01-26

On columnist Jennifer Rubin’s “hatred” of Don the Con (she denies hating anyone, but you know she doesn’t like him):

Ask yourself: why does Rubin oppose Trump? Not because he is pursuing constitutional means to effect policy changes in American government (he’s not).   It’s because he breaks the rules we all agreed to follow.

She opposes him because he is offensive to everyone not like him. He has mocked, in the most offensive terms, anyone who criticizes him.

She opposes him because he uses improper and disproportionate means to get his way.  He tries to threaten, bribe, or extort anyone in the way of his policy choices who tries to stop him.

She doesn’t oppose him because he’s conservative– he’s not, and she is, but that’s not the point.

She opposes him because his behavior is offensive. His policy choices are cruel and likely to exacerbate the wealth inequality which cripples American growth (how can workers buy more stuff when their salaries have not risen against inflation in 40 years?)– but that’s not why she opposes him.

She opposes him because he says offensive things; he calls “never Trumpers” “human scum”– why?

Trump thinks he can do anything he wants, and if someone tries to stop him, he will not admit defeat when he’s overmatched.  He instead tries to overpower them through improper means: insults, threats, bribery, extortion, blackmail, veiled threats of violence, enlisting actually violent ultra-right-wing extremists, and worse.

When Obama with-held Congressional monies, he went through all the legal procedures and did it publicly; when Trump with-held money, he did it secretly, without explaining why, in violation of laws established after Nixon tried the same chicanery.

I don’t think Rubin is embarrassing. What embarrasses me is that I have to admit that I’m an American under Trump’s government. Opposing Bush II’s policies was a matter of liberal vs conservative– they thought his policy choices were wrong. But opposing Trump himself is a matter of taste: he’s disgusting, and his behavior is illegal.

Trump is a liar, a con man and a crook.

 

On the Republicans saying “I’d rather be a Russian than a Democrat”:

Those Russians they admire have some problems at home:

One, life expectancy has dropped, partly due to alcohol abuse and partly due to malnutrition.

Two, their abortion rate is “one of the highest in the world.”  Try that on for size, right after remembering that the biggest single-issue Trump voters are anti-abortion activists.

Three, their “gun rights” are non-existent.  Private citizens cannot purchase semi-automatic weapons easily.  The second biggest single-issue voter group is the Second Amendment types who would be horrified if they faced the restrictions on gun ownership that are in place in Russia and have been for many years.  The so-called “Russian NRA” is a front group for spies trying to infiltrate conservative groups here in the USA, like Maria Butina (who has been deported).

I think that if people like Tucker Carlson and Newt Gingrich were to publicly face the Russian abortion rates and gun non-rights, the popularity of the phrase “I’d rather be a Russian than a Democrat” would drop precipitously.  Not going to happen, I know, but it does further lower their standings in the eyes of people who keep their eyes open to everything that is really going on.

The Russians are a great threat to democracy, and to the United States (whom they rightly blame for the disastrous collapse of the USSR and privatization that caused instant billionaires and instant poverty for the masses– remember Putin still has nostalgia for his KGB days)…

Democracy faces tremendous threats both from within and without.  Russia and China are both  capable of destroying the US, not by war, but by propaganda (Russia) and by commerce (China) .

The Republicans are playing with fire when they flirt with Putin.  Fascism is contagious.

Someone said, “Republicans will not accept being democratically overthrown.  They will destroy democracy instead.”  If Trump receives a narrow loss this November, he might attempt a coup.   Try sleeping tonight while thinking about that.

New Research: Climate change is “an existential national [and global] security risk” that “threatens the premature extinction of Earth-originating intelligent life.” (a long rant by me!)

2019-12-11

I came across this article in “Futurism” today.  It’s dated June 3, 2019, which is several months ago, but it just appeared to me today.  I’ve been following the “Apple” news feed since last spring, when I got a new phone, which happens to be an Apple XR.  So I don’t know why I wasn’t alerted to this sooner, but it doesn’t make any difference because it’s already too late.

Quoting from the article, again: “A distressing Australian climate change analysis has some bad news: human civilization is set to collapse by 2050 if [we] don’t grapple with the imminent threat of climate change.”  By “grapple” the author means “take effective (and drastic) action to reverse the increasing level of CO2 (and methane) in the air.”

As you may (or may not) know, CO2 concentrations in the air have been going up since roughly 1750 or 1800, and as a result, average temperatures have been going up since the early part of the twentieth century.  Before humans, CO2 levels in the air varied between about 200 and 280 parts per million (ppm) for the last couple of million years.  Never, at least in the last 800,000 years, has CO2 gone above 280 ppm.  CO2 levels have been closely related to average temperatures; low CO2 means colder averages, and higher CO2 means hotter temperatures.  Sea levels have also gone up and done in close relation to CO2, with very low levels resulting in freezing more ice at the poles and lowering sea levels; now the sea is rising and swallowing coastal areas.

Average temperatures have gone up about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the last couple of hundred years, and now it seems that every year sets a new record for the hottest average in human experience.  People are noticing.  There are droughts on land, especially near the Equator, and people are leaving those areas because they can’t successfully farm.

Human movement is experienced as “refugee crises”.  The government, especially the US government, has reacted negatively to these movements.  Our president has made his reputation as a cruel proponent of limiting migration.  On top of his attempts to prevent illegal immigration, he has drastically limited legal migration.  A few years ago, it was common to allow 100,000 people a year to legally (after years of delays and red tape) enter the US; this year, the president has set a goal of 18,000 legal refugees.  Because of increased “vetting”, he may succeed in reducing that number simply by delaying processing.

But all that is beside the point.  Even if the president were the greatest humanitarian in the world, he/she would not be able to achieve a significant improvement in the overall status of the human race.  Even if he were to wake up tomorrow with a changed heart, he would still not be able to change the minds of the one-third of the American public who don’t believe that climate change is even happening, much less that we should do anything about it.

He’d have to start by changing Fox News, which daily spouts malicious propaganda against the scientists who have been warning us for the last fifty years.  He’d have to change the hearts of at least fifty-three senators who follow the Republican party line that insists oil is good for us and coal can somehow be made “clean”.

Worst of all, the only really effective measures are so drastic that it seems unlikely that a democratic society could enact them.  The most likely nation to be effective, if they were to join in battle against the climate apocalypse, is the totalitarian society of China (People’s Republic of).  That is because they have, first, a long-term view of their existence that clearly countenances the challenge of climate change.  There is no short-termism in Chinese politics because the government has eliminated term limits for their leader (the Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, among other titles he holds).  The leader is relatively young and has plenty of close relatives to be concerned about, so he is more likely to think about survival past 2050.

The second reason that the Chinese have a better chance than we do is because they have a highly developed propaganda apparatus along with an intense censorship system– thus, they are more likely to be able to shape public opinion about the necessity for drastic changes.  I’m not saying this is a “good” thing, but I am saying that it is more likely to lead to survival for a larger number of Chinese people and a larger proportion of Chinese civilization relative to “Western” civilization.

The third thing the Chinese have going for them is an intense focus on manufacturing in their economy.   The “free trade” agreements enacted over the last thirty years have stimulated Chinese manufacturing and led to an export-oriented economy.  One of the things we will need a great deal of is certain manufactured goods: electric cars, photovoltaic cells (that convert sunlight directly to electricity), and the infrastructure that will distribute that electricity.

So, in conclusion, the future looks bleak.  Especially for Western freedoms, which under these circumstances look like the freedom to starve, roast, and drown as a result of climate change.  China will take over the world and force everyone to live under a system of totalitarian government.  Places that don’t adapt to Chinese control will be in continual conflict with the Chinese or will simply be wiped out.

I don’t like this prediction.  I like freedom, the freedom to express your own opinion, the freedom to do things that  you want to do, the freedom to be sad or upset or frustrated or just plain depressed.  But freedom in this situation is simply the freedom to become extinct.

In order to survive, we must be “gung ho”– a Chinese or Japanese expression which means “work together”– literally “gong”: ‘work’ and “he”: ‘together’.  Currently the phrase has the American meaning or “overenthusiastic” or “overzealous”.  According to Wikipedia, gung ho is a shortened version of “gōngyè hézuòshè ” which means “Chinese Industrial Cooperatives”.  Wikipedia says that the term is an Americanism, borrowed from the Chinese during WW II by the commander of the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Major Evans Carlson.  He used the term to refer to the working spirit of the Chinese during their defensive war with Japan, when they made up for a lack of equipment and machinery by using human-power.  He tried to imbue the same spirit into his troops and used it as a sort of battle-cry: “Gung ho!”

Perhaps we should say, “We are free to criticise and discuss issues up to the point where a final decision has to be made.  After that, we need to work together and avoid propaganda and lies that prevent us from seeing our challenges clearly.”  That’s not how the Chinese government sees it, but we don’t have to agree with them.  We do, however, have to adapt to survive or we will be dead, permanently, replaced by a people controlled by a totalitarian government that tells everyone what kind of car they have to drive and what kind of light-bulb they can use.

Seriously– can you believe that the right-wing propaganda outlets and the president himself are trying to reverse decisions made by the previous administration to promote vastly more efficient, and hugely longer lasting light-bulbs?  The promotions were not unconstitutional nor a pinch on anyone’s freedom to waste money on inefficient, short-lived incandescent light bulbs.  It gets worse– can you believe that the president is trying to reverse standards on flush toilets that reduce the amount of water wasted with each flush?  “Because you have to flush ten or fifteen times.”

And worst of all: and this is not made-up, it is a direct quote from our unloved leader’s lips: “The noise from windmills causes cancer.”  At this point, every human with an eighth-grade education should be able to it up and say: “That’s utterly ridiculous and an obvious lie.  What other lies is our so-called president telling us?”

My (our) Nightmare: What if he wins, again? 630 words on how bad it could get.

2019-12-04

(photo courtesy of pixabay.com)

Current political theater leads us to predict, with some good confidence, that He will be impeached in the House and “exonerated” in the Senate, probably by mid-February.  The pressing need for speed in this case appears to be that several current Senators are running for President and don’t need to be sitting in the Senate all day every day going through already damning evidence that won’t turn the heads of 53 Senators by a single degree…

Therefore, if He’s not going to be convicted, what’s the point? of impairing the campaigns of some six Senators who are trying to throw him out of office electorally, in the only contest that has a good chance of succeeding.  Thus thinks Ms. Pelosi.

However, there is the issue of additional testimony by those who can’t be moved in time for the House to hear it.  Chief Justice Roberts will be presiding over the Senate trial, and there is hope that he can compel the testimony of such miscreants as John “hand grenade” Bolton (speak of the pot calling the kettle black).  If, by request of Democrats or on his own initiative, he issues a ruling that the crime/fraud exception to any executive privilege applies to the compelled testimony of Bolton, McGahn, Pompeo, Giuliani, et al, it could amplify the intensity of the testimony.

Then there is Lev Parnas.  He has already turned over audio and video recordings of Giuliani and his boss.  What if there is audio of his temporary President-ness telling Giuliani, “I wanna squeeze Zelenskiy like an orange, I mean really extort the *** out of the mother****.”??  Wouldn’t that be as good as the Nixon tapes?  Who knows?  Even that might not be enough to turn Republican heads.

The mother of all nightmares, though, begins with impeachment and failure to convict.  It leads through to the Presidential election next November and the dread turn– He wins, again, by pulling Wisconsin out of a hat and holding on to a few other key states.  What will happen next is an unstoppable slide into a crippled federal government and a temporary, permanent disenfranchised majority of the people– An increase in the already historically high level of income and wealth inequalities, violent behavior by police and immigration officers, riots, an economic crash even, and the demise of the Roe v. Wade protections.

Some people would do just fine in a second term by the most corrupt, dishonest president in American history.  These people would be white, healthy, wealthy, and mostly male.  Others would not do so well– poor, brown people with disabilities, for example.  The worst effect would be on the federal government itself: many sincere, dedicated professionals would be forced to leave, and those who remain would be handicapped and isolated in departments that are shadows of their former selves.

The president’s henchmen, Steve Miller chief among them, have already reduced or simply eliminated many troublesome divisions.  In some cases, the eliminated groups have not been replaced, nor has their work been passed to others; the hatchet-wielders have allowed their functions to be completely lost.  Their clear priorities have been to make it impossible for the government to function as it did in the past.

Thus, if He is re-elected, the federal government as we know it will be gone in four years, replaced by a barely functional system to collect and distribute Social Security pensions attached to a muscular military and no State Department.  This is the nightmare that haunts me on alternate nights.  The dream on the other nights is just as bad, only it involves the Earth becoming nearly uninhabitable as billions of people starve, coastlines are washed away, and average temperatures rise 5 degrees Celsius by 2100.  Between the two of these, I’m not sleeping so well lately.

“[redacted] knows that simple and clear slogans, repeated relentlessly, can have an effect. The Democrats should just call this what it is. It’s bribery.”

2019-11-12

(photo courtesy of pixabay.com)

This statement was made in an article that came through the Apple online free news service as CNN Politics in a comprehensive article titled “The Case For and Against Impeaching President [redacted]” and was attributed to CNN contributor Paul Bergala, who was a senior Clinton advisor during Clinton’s impeachment twenty years ago.