The Virtue of Stupidity

Once again, dear friend Hugh has hit the nail on the head regarding the dangerous attitudes of this nation toward addressing environmental issues, most notably climate change, or global warming. Please take a minute to read his excellent post … and make note of his new “law” at the end! Thank you, Hugh, for the post and the permission to share!

hughcurtler

Temperatures around the country have recently been plunging and the nay-sayers once again point to the thermometer and tell us why they deny that the globe is warming. They ignore the fact that South Africa is experiencing the hottest summer on record and that what happens in Alabama or Alaska (or South Africa) is beside the point. Global Warming is a fact and it is not to be identified with passing weather events in particular parts of the world. Confusing the two and ignoring hard science are marks of the “virtue of stupidity” among those who remain with their heads in the sand — or somewhere equally dark. (This is a repost, which I have updated.)

In his remarkable book, Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free, Charles Pierce quotes Norman Myers of the Climate Institute who estimated that in 1995 [over twenty-four years ago!] there…

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The State of DISunion

I did not watch Donald Trump’s State of the Union (SOTU) address last night, for three very good reasons.

  1. I was already not feeling well and knew that having to see his face, hear his voice, and see all those strange contortions he does with his face would make me unbearably ill.
  2. I feared that my strong reaction to having to listen to him would cause me to irreparably damage my laptop, and frankly I cannot afford a new computer at the moment.
  3. The most important reason of all is that the speech was sure to be filled with lies, or as Keith would prefer I say, ‘untruths’. Why bother?  I have better things to do with my time.

I have worked my way through most of the transcript this morning, have read a few analyses, read The Washington Post’s fact check, and concluded that I was correct in my assessment – it would have been a colossal waste of my valuable time.  That said, I do have some things to say (surprised, aren’t you?) about it all.

First of all, one has to wonder why we even have a State of the Union address every year.

Article II, Section 3 of the United States Constitution states that the president shall ”from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”

Somehow, I think that goal could be accomplished without all the pomp and circumstance that surround the event these days.  And, with today’s instantaneous communication, the speech seems really to have outlived its usefulness.  In fact, of what use is it to waste the time of Congress, the Supreme Court, other guests and the home viewing audience, just to listen to fairy tales?  Why couldn’t he just tweet it, as he does everything else? I won’t bother to bore you with the fact-checking … you can get that from any of the major media outlets.

The speech is most notable for what was not addressed.

Climate Change.  How can a speech that is intended to inform us about the state of the country, completely ignore the thing that, by most measures, is the single most important issue facing this, and every other nation?  Under Trump, the U.S. has pulled out of major agreements to work toward reducing carbon emissions and has rolled back the regulations that were intended to help protect the environment.  We have seen the results with our own eyes in the past year, even the past week, yet he says not one word?

Renewable Energy.  The future is not in the coal, gas and oil that Trump has so adamantly vowed to protect, but the future is in renewable energy such as solar, wind and water.  Under Trump, there is no major push by the federal government to explore and expand on renewable energy, but a number of states and corporations are participating.  This could have been a genuine feather in Trump’s cap, had he opted to do the right thing, to take seriously the need to distance ourselves from fossil fuels.  Instead, he chose the most destructive path.

Relations with Allies.  Our relationships with our allies are crumbling, thanks to Trump’s policies that have, in many cases, left our allies scrambling to try to make up for the failure of the U.S. to pull its weight, such as in the Paris Accord, NATO, the Iran nuclear agreement, and NAFTA, and the latest threat to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria and Afghanistan.  Add to that the disdain he has shown for the leaders of allied nations, such as Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau, Theresa May and others.  We are no longer a good and trusted friend, to put it quite simply.

Poverty.  Despite Trump’s claims that wages have risen, jobs have been created, 13.4% of people in this nation are living below the poverty level.  As the population increases, and some jobs are replaced by technology, the number of people who struggle just to put food on the table has risen and will continue to rise.

Education.  We are falling behind in our education system, as I have mentioned more than a few times, and this is the key to almost everything I have listed so far.  The new trend seems to be moving away from developing minds and more toward job training.  This is a mistake … a huge mistake … and to add insult to injury, this nation has made it nearly impossible for a young person from a lower-income family to go to college.

National Debt.  With the December 2017 tax cuts that benefit almost exclusively the wealthy in the nation, we severely reduced the nation’s revenue.  To maintain a balanced budget, thereby keeping the national debt at current levels, would require spending cuts equal to the revenue reduction.  But those cuts, under Trump’s plan, would come from programs that help disadvantaged people.  Trump’s fiscal plan is rather a reverse Robin Hood – rob from the poor to give to the rich.

Gun Regulation.  The U.S. is the only nation on the globe with almost no regulations on firearms.  Those who claim the 2nd Amendment gives them the right to own an arsenal that includes assault-type weapons that can mow down a crowd inside of a minute are fools.  On this, the 37th day of 2019, there have already been 510 gun deaths in the U.S.  An average of 14 per day.  And yet, this topic was not considered important enough to be addressed in the State of the Union.

There is more I could add, but you get the picture.  The address was a public relations event, nothing more.  I found it strange that he would call for unity, when he has, in fact, been the most divisive president in the history of the nation.  “We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution …” he said, when he is the very source of revenge and retribution, he has pursued a divisive political strategy very much focused on his base.  Last night’s speech, like most everything he does, was intended only for his base … he told them what they wanted to hear and left the rest of us with the clear knowledge that nothing is changed, that the state of the nation is _____________________. (Fill in the blank)

Two For Twoday …

I had every intention of writing a nice, calm peaceful piece this afternoon … something NOT about Trump or his minions, something either funny, promising, or inspiring in one way or another.  But then, a couple of things crossed my radar and suddenly I find myself beating the print off of my keyboard (literally, for I no longer have lettering on my ‘I’, ‘o’, or ‘n’ keys!).  So, I hope you’re in the mood for a few of my snarky snippets …


Non-Press Secretary Sanders leaves climate change to God …

Sarah Huckabee Sanders-1Sarah Huckabee Sanders was told by her boss not to bother with daily, or even weekly press briefings anymore, for the press don’t talk nice to her, and they don’t say nice things about da prez, so why bother?  So … I’m very puzzled as to what her job description is these days, why We the Taxpayers are still paying her the $179,700 annual salary, for she damn sure isn’t doing anything to earn it!  But now I know … she goes on Fox New talk shows and makes a complete fool of herself …

Earlier this week, newly-minted House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in an on-stage interview that we needed to act on climate change before it was too late. She noted that the “world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change,” referencing the tipping point after which scientists say it’ll be too late to address greenhouse gas emissions. She’s right about all that. And she’s especially right to point that out when we have a government that rejects climate science in addition to ignoring science in general.

So then on Tuesday night, during an interview with, of all people, Fox ‘News’ Sean Hannity, Sarah Huckabee Sanders decided that only God should be concerned about climate change, and that our government has bigger fish to fry …

“Look, I don’t think we’re going to listen to her on much of anything, particularly not on matters we’re gonna leave in the hands of a much, much higher authority, and certainly not listen to the freshman congresswoman on when the world may end. We’re focused on what’s happening in the world right now.”

Need I say more?


Come into my parlour, said the spider to the fly …

Remember back in July, when we learned that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, did not have the highest-level security clearance necessary to review high-level documents?  The reason was he kept messing up his security review, because he kept ‘forgetting’ to record interactions with a number of foreign officials, primarily Russians.  I had mostly forgotten about it, and I imagine you did too, but yesterday I saw this headline …

Report: Security officials rejected Kushner’s top secret clearance, but were overruled

kushner.jpegTurns out that two career White House security specialists rejected Jared Kushner’s application for a top-secret security clearance after Kushner’s FBI background check raised red flags, and there were concerns about his foreign entanglements.  Kusher’s family businesses leave him vulnerable to foreign influence, they said, and he has not satisfactorily explained some of his Russian connections.  Why is this guy even working in our government???  But wait …

Their supervisor, Carl Kline, who became director of the personnel security office in the Executive Office of the President in May 2017, decided to override their professional opinion and give Kushner the highest level of security clearance despite the concerns of the FBI!!!  Think about that one for a moment, folks!  And … not only that, but this Kline person has also overruled at least 30 other rejections of incoming Trump officials!  I want to know who those people are and what the objections were!  Is our government being infiltrated with Russian agents or those who are entangled with Russian agents?  Who knows?

Those who keep saying that the foundation, The U.S. Constitution, the rule of law, will protect us from a Trump-dictatorship need to think about this one long and hard.  Sure, there are rules in place, but Donald Trump has long since decided that those rules do not apply to him and his chosen minions!  Our lives, our future, are in the hands of a maniacal madman who believes the world is made only for him.

An Important Message …

I came across this video created by Greenpeace a few days ago.  Greenpeace, founded in 1971, is a non-governmental environmental organization focusing on worldwide issues such as climate change, deforestation, overfishing, commercial whaling, genetic engineering, and anti-nuclear issues.  Their mission statement:

Greenpeace is a global, independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

The video contains probably some of the worst singing you will hear this week, but the message is important, the message is one that needs to be remembered and shared.  Our lives, the lives of our children and their children are at stake here, and every person on this planet has the ability to make a difference.

What Is A Government For?

When reading yesterday about Trump’s threat to cut off emergency aid to the state of California to assist in its efforts to recover and rebuild after the recent deadly fires, I had to ask … what is a government for, then?  It is highly questionable whether food stamp recipients will receive their food stamps next month.  Farmers are not receiving the subsidies they were promised to help ease the cost of the tariffs that have cut deeply into their revenues.  TSA workers who inspect people and luggage at airports to detect bombs are calling off the job, for they cannot afford to keep working without pay.  Inspections of the food we buy at the grocery store are curtailed.  And the list of services that we pay for, but are being denied, goes on … and on … and on … ad infinitum.

So what is a government for, then?  What is its purpose?  For starters, let’s take a look at the Preamble of the United States Constitution:

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

First off, note that it is “We the People” who established the government.  We the People give the government its legitimacy.  So, when the government no longer does those things … no longer promotes the general welfare, but rather only the welfare of a few wealthy people … then what purpose does it serve?  Is it truly a government of, by and for the people?

Look at that first point in the Preamble … “in order to form a more perfect union”.  This nation is divided as it has never before been.  I’m not sure that even the Civil War era was as divisive as the current environment is.  What’s worse, though, is that the ‘leader’ of this government is the very one who is causing the divisiveness!  The government is doing not one single thing to try to help bring people together, to “form a more perfect union”.

The second point … “establish justice”.  Justice?  The person in the Oval Office has declared himself to be above the law.  Time and time again.  So, think about this for a minute.  If the head of the government is above the law, if most of his political appointees are considered above the law … can there be justice in this nation?  I think not.

The third point … “ensure domestic tranquility”.  Can you even say that phrase without either laughing or crying?  Domestic tranquility?  What the Sam Heck is that???

Fourth point … “provide for the common defense”.  Let’s ponder for a minute … does constant and unwarranted criticism of our allies, denigration of such peacekeeping organizations as the United Nations and NATO make us safer?  Does the pandering to strong-arm dictators like Putin, Erdoğan, Kim, and Duterte make us safer?  Better yet, does the domestic hotbed that exists in this nation make us safer?  I think not.

Fifth point … “promote the general welfare”.  This is another that would be laughable, if only the laughter didn’t turn to tears.  General welfare???  800,000+ people not getting paid?  Food stamps reduced or eliminated?  Trash overflowing in national parks?  People losing their homes?  Food growers unable to meet their mortgage payments?  A nation in chaos does not … I repeat, NOT … promote the general welfare.

And finally, the sixth point … “secure liberty and posterity”.  Liberty?  From what?  Liberty from tyranny comes to mind, but we have the most tyrannical leader in the history of the nation, so that can’t be right.  Liberty to … go to work without pay?  To watch our infrastructure crumble beneath our feet?  To listen to the self-promoting lies of a madman?  And posterity … defined as “all future generations of people”.  Given the government’s stance on climate change and the devastating effects, there aren’t likely to be too many future generations of people.

I return to my original question:  What is government for?  Whatever it was intended to be for, it no longer fulfills those responsibilities.  What do we do about this?

Think about it.

Collision Course

Our friend Hugh’s post tonight is spot on … not a post that’s going to make you chuckle and hum a happy tune, but certainly one with a message that we all need to hear … again and again … until we wake up. Thank you Hugh, for the reminder, and for giving me carte blanche to share your work.

hughcurtler

I suggested in a response I made to a comment on a previous post that humanity is most assuredly on a collision course between global warming, on the one hand, and the expanding human population, on the other hand. The irony of ironies is that the growing human population seems to be, for the most part, oblivious to both of these problems! Perhaps it is denial on a grand scale? To be sure, most of us would prefer to ignore unpleasant facts. But be that as it may, the two opposing forces cannot possibly survive together. Something must give.

As long as we continue to think it is better to drive our gas-guzzlers and turn up the thermostat rather than ride a bike, drive smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, or put on a sweater when we are cold — while at the same time we embrace the notion that large families…

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Too late? Am humbly asking for follower power…

A blogging friend asked me if I would check out a video that was made by the daughter of her friend, and when I did, I felt the video to be well worth sharing with you all. It is yet another example of our young people stepping up to the plate, taking responsibility for the planet that we have neglected for far too long. Please take a moment to watch … I found it inspirational! Thank you, Bee, for your kind permission to re-blog!

The Bee Writes...

Hi there my dear readers,

this morning I got a WhatsApp message from a friend to check out a video on YouTube. The daughter of a lady who studied with the both of us was involved in making a video for a school project for which she needs comments in English.

I haven’t figured out for what that project exactly is but I like the message of the video and I know it is important for many of you too. So may I humbly ask you to go to YouTube, watch the video and leave a comment for the young activists? That would be much appreciated! Here is the link to it: 4earth ~ too late?

and here is the video:

video credit: 4earth via YouTube

Let’s support young artists and activists! They are our future and I believe if we give them attention & encouragement they will grow…

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Sickening …

I did not realize I was feeling ill until the following “breaking news” came popping up on my phone last evening …

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows is no longer under consideration to be Donald Trump’s chief of staff.

“Congressman Mark Meadows is a great friend to President Trump and is doing an incredible job in Congress. The President told him we need him in Congress so he can continue the great work he is doing there,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Meadows, a staunch Trump ally, had been a top contender for the position, and he had signaled his interest in recent days. But ultimately, aides said the president thought it best for him to remain in Congress, where he can continue to be a strong defender of the administration.

Now, first off, I am glad that Meadows, who is a grade-A, bigoted, radical right-wing jerk, is not going to be the new chief of staff.  But when I read that he is doing “an incredible job”, my stomach churns, and when I read that he is to stay in Congress “so he can continue the great work …” I am full on sick to my stomach.

For those who may be unfamiliar with Mr. Meadows, let me summarize …

  • Meadows voted against relief for Hurricane Sandy in 2013
  • He is anti-abortion and anti-birth control
  • Oddly, he claims to support a balanced budget, though he has largely contributed to the highest deficit we have seen in six years
  • He demanded that Trump get rid of all federal funding to study climate change
  • He also requested Trump repeal environmental regulations including the Renewable Fuel Standard, stop the prohibition of drilling oil on federal lands, and pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement
  • Meadows voted against renewing the Violence Against Women Act
  • He has proposed that the United States should tap into oil and gas reserves to keep energy prices low, and to develop energy independence. He supports tapping into off-shore oil and gas supplies
  • Meadows opposes same-sex marriage
  • Meadows opposes any restrictions on gun purchases and opposes a national gun registry that would list detailed information about firearm ownership
  • He has voted numerous times to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
  • He supports tax cuts for the wealthy and large corporations, and is against net neutrality

House Freedom CaucusWell, you get the picture.  Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, and member of the U.S. House of Representatives from North Carolina is the worst of the worst of the republican party.  In essence, if it is good for the wealthy and bad for the rest of us, he is for it.  If it helps the average Joe, he will fight against it.  And he is considered one of Trump’s closest allies in Congress.  That tell you something?  This is a man whose conscience is measured in dollar signs.

And so now you might understand why, when I hear Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Don Trump refer to him as “doing an incredible job”, I feel ill.  An incredible job at what???  Destroying the nation and the global environment?  Sending women’s rights back two centuries? Mark Meadows-1You might ask just what the good people of North Carolina were thinking when they elected him for a fourth term last month, but the reality is that his district is so heavily gerrymandered that almost all minorities have been excluded.  He campaigned for the 2018 elections by touting his support of the madman Trump, while claiming that any republicans who didn’t support Trump should be removed from office.

Mark Meadows is, contrary to Ms. Sanders and Mr. Trump’s opinion, not doing a great job at anything.  He is the poster boy for why we need to have all district maps re-drawn to appropriately represent the voters.

So, we are left with the question … who will be the next chief of staff?  Nick Ayers and Rick Santorum have thus far turned down the job, Mark Meadows is out of the running … who’s left?  The three leading contenders appear to be acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, a former campaign manager David Bossie, and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.  But then, who knows … by tomorrow it could be Daffy Duck!  Whoever it is, I’m sure he or she will make a lovely addition to this circus of clowns.circus-1

♫ Earth Song ♫

Much of my writing of late has been about the environment — climate change, the IPCC and NCA reports, the utter failure of the U.S. government to address the obvious and imminent threat.  When our friend David mentioned this song a few days ago, I went back to listen to it for the first time in years, watched the video, and knew the time was right to remember this song.

Michael Jackson, known for his socially-conscious music, released this song, dealing with the environment and animal welfare, on November 27, 1995.  The music video you are about to see was shot in four separate geographical locations, including the Americas, Europe and Africa.  According to Michael Jackson …

“I remember writing ‘Earth Song’ when I was in Austria, in a hotel. And I was feeling so much pain and so much suffering of the plight of the Planet Earth. And for me, this is Earth’s Song, because I think nature is trying so hard to compensate for man’s mismanagement of the Earth. And with the ecological unbalance going on, and a lot of the problems in the environment, I think earth feels the pain, and she has wounds, and it’s about some of the joys of the planet as well. But this is my chance to pretty much let people hear the voice of the planet. And this is ‘Earth Song.’ And that’s what inspired it. And it just suddenly dropped into my lap when I was on tour in Austria.”

The song has won numerous awards, perhaps none more important than the Genesis Award: 1995 Doris Day Music Award, given each year for animal sensitivity.

In 2008, a writer for the Nigeria Exchange noted, “Earth Song drew the world’s attention to the degradation and bastardization of the earth as a fall out of various human activities”.  Ten years later and we still haven’t gotten the wake-up call.

The video, directed by fine art photographer Nick Brandt had an environmental theme, showing images of animal cruelty, deforestation, pollution, poaching, poverty and war. Jackson and the world’s people unite in a spiritual chant—”Earth Song”—which summons a force that heals the world. Using special effects, time is reversed so that life returns, war ends and the forests regrow.

Earth Song
Michael Jackson

What about sunrise
What about rain
What about all the things that you said
We were to gain
What about killing fields
Is there a time
What about all the things
That you said were yours and mine

Did you ever stop to notice
All the blood we’ve shed before
Did you ever stop to notice
This crying Earth, these weeping shores

Aah, ooh

What have we done to the world
Look what we’ve done
What about all the peace
That you pledge your only son

What about flowering fields
Is there a time
What about all the dreams
That you said was yours and mine

Did you ever stop to notice
All the children dead from war
Did you ever stop to notice
This crying earth, these weeping shores

Aah, ooh
Aah, ooh

I used to dream
I used to glance beyond the stars
Now I don’t know where we are
Although I know we’ve drifted far

Aah, ooh
Aah, ooh

Aah, ooh
Aah, ooh

Hey, what about yesterday
(What about us)
What about the seas
(What about us)
The heavens are falling down
(What about us)
I can’t even breathe
(What about us)
What about apathy
(What about us)
Drowning in the seas
(What about us)
What about the promised land
Preachin’ what I believe
(What about us)
What about the holy land
(What about it)
What about the greed
(What about us)
Where did we go wrong
Someone tell me why
(What about us)
What about baby boy
(What about him)
What about the days
(What about us)
What about all their joy
Do we give a damn

Aah, ooh
Aah, ooh

Songwriters: Michael Jackson
Earth Song lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc