Friday, August 21, 2015

Brace for Impact

More and more it's looking like curtains for civilization as we know it.  Some experts on global warming are now saying we are past the tipping point.  Of course we don't know for certain.  It's possible an unforeseen technological advancement could save us.  One difficulty though is we probably need civilization in order to implement a technological advancement that would save us.  But it is our civilization, which is capitalist with ever expanding consumption, that is killing us.  Civilization is both our demise and our possible savior.

I wonder what future generations will think of us.  They might be tempted to view global warming deniers as super nefarious people.  Maybe they'll see them as mass murderers.  But it's not the case.  They're true believers.  It's just incredible what humans are capable of believing.  Evidence is just not as important as other factors.  One factor I believe is just overwhelming.  Preference.

I think George W Bush genuinely believed Saddam had WMD's.  It was a convenient conclusion because it justified an invasion that had long been desired.  I think Cheney and Wolfowitz really did think Laurie Mylroie was on to something when she claimed Saddam was really the center of global Islamic terror.

I saw an interesting movie recently called Witch Hunt.  You can watch it here.  It's about how an aggressive prosecutor wrongly convicted dozens of people on charges of child molestation/abuse/rape.  It was very interesting and I recommend it.  You watch it and you'll be ticked about the prosecutor and the police interrogators who lead the children to make the incriminating claims.

But one policemen is somewhat unapologetic.  He points out that there was no conspiracy to screw people over.  You're dealing with charges involving kids, so you do what you have to do.  There's not a lot of remorse.

Kind of infuriating but it reinforces what I'm saying about preference.  When you have an incentive to reach a certain conclusion you just do.  For them there was a culture coming from the top down that tough on crime was going to lead to professional success.  People didn't have to be told to bend the rules.  They internalized it.  They believed it.  And they probably go home and sleep like babies.

For profit media of course has owners and advertisers that have preferences.  Billionaire donors to politicians have preferences.  Indulging those preferences is what's going to lead you to more professional success if you are a media personality or a politician.  These people believe what they are saying.  Global warming isn't happening, or if it is it isn't caused by man, or if it is we shouldn't do anything about it.  Yeah, they believe it, despite overwhelming evidence.

The result is we're screwed.  Something like 250 species go extinct per day.  The polar cap will be ice free in a few years, something that has not been true in human history.  At that point the warming is going to accelerate.  Will the deniers admit it at that point?  Probably not.  It's not their preference.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Bush, Gog, and Magog

In the video below a NY Times columnist reports on a conversation between Bush and French President Jacques Chirac.  In his efforts to persuade him to bring the French in to support the war effort apparently Bush appealed to these biblical apocalyptic concepts of Gog and Magog.  Humorous for me because this terminology is very natural for me.  It's what I grew up with.  But I can imagine that someone not steeped in it would have been pretty weirded out.  Chirac conluded that Bush was a madman.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Ahead Of Their Time

I recently watched an old movie from the 50's that at the time had been denounced by the US House of Representatives as sympathetic to communists.  During production anti-communist vigilantes fired rifle shots at the set.  After being edited in secret only 12 theaters would dare to screen it.  Many of the participants would be blacklisted in Hollywood.  The lead actress would be deported.

The film is called Salt of the Earth and you can watch it here.  Why such an extreme response?  It portrays a strike from a position sympathetic to the union.  It advances a view that men and women should be treated as equals.  It talks openly about the injustice of racism against Mexicans.

It struck me as way ahead of it's time.  These are not the kind of opinions I'm accustomed to seeing in a movie from that era.  But it occurs to me that this may be a bit of a pattern.  We're used to seeing the perspectives of rich people.  In the US that means capitalists.  They own the media, control the politics, and run the movie studios.  When we think back to that era we think of the perspective they preferred because they dominated the communication of the time and controlled the way history was being written.  Racist, sexist, hostile to working people.  I find as I look back and search for the opinions of others, maybe common men and women, the marginalized like the kind of people that would make a movie like this, it's not as much like that.

Take a look at some of the better known socialists and anarchists from times past and just note their positions.  Someone like Eugene Debs maybe.  Here's something of his from 1903 decrying the treatment of the negro and women.  Look into people like Mark Twain, Hellen Keller, Albert Einstein, George Orwell, ML King Jr, and others.  From what I know of them they seem very unlike the dominant men of their era.

And of course you can look a lot closer to our current era.  Bernie Sanders was against the Defense of Marriage Act when it was very popular in the US and Hillary was advocating it.  He was against the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act, NAFTA, and all the other ridiculous policies that were a lot more popular at the time.  It seems to me that looking back it's the socialists that have been repeatedly right and the right wing wrong.

Urgent issues face the world today.  Issues related to the environment, war, race, economics.  You can align yourselves with the powerful.  But if you do that you may be seen as somewhat backwards in the future.  You may appear to be paranoid in your defense of status quo, as the House Un-American Activities people look today.  Today the FBI has more environmentalists on their list of suspected terrorists than any other group.  The powerful see environmental activism as the threat, just as they saw people advocating for racial and sexual equality as the threat of the past.  You can be on their side.  Or you can be on the side of people that have a tradition of being right and of doing the most to make the world better.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Very Glad Bernie is Running for President

What's tough listening to right wing radio is when they get upset about Hillary's supposed progressive positions.  Hillary wants to raise the minimum wage to $15.  Hillary is a pacifist, she'll gut the defense budget.  She'll regulate Wall St.  When both sides of the debate agree on something it's tough to break through and get people to recognize that no, that's not who she is.  She has a long track record of support for and from Wall St.  Support for war, hostility to unions.  Yet she's trying to pass herself off as a person that actually subscribes to progressive opinions.  In fact she's owned by various corporate boards just as Republicans are controlled by corporate boards (though in a lot of cases it's different corporate boards).

With Bernie you do get a guy that genuinely does care about people first, not the Chamber of Commerce and Wall St.  Even Ann Coulter understands that.  Take a look at where the monetary support for Bernie comes from as contrasted with Hillary.

Can he win?  I don't know.  Can the devastating effects of global warming be stopped?  I don't know.  But what else can you do but push forward based on the assumption that good things can happen?  If you sit back and assume you can't overcome these challenges that you definitely won't.

Here's a really good interview with Bernie that covers a lot of ground.  Maybe prior to 2008 you would expect more people to call his opinions crazy, but it's more getting to the point where you have to call it common sense.  Corruption is legal in the US, and the result is that the US is not a democracy but an oligarchy.  So though even the IMF, despite it's long history of imposing trickle down economics throughout the world, is now admitting that trickle down economics doesn't work, our politicians continue to act on the assumption that it does work.  The US system of for profit health care sucks.  Global warming is real, is caused by man, and needs to be mitigated if we're going to avoid devastating consequences.

Bernie isn't perfect, but he admits these obvious things and really does want to address them.  Hillary will admit them but probably has no intention of dealing with them.  She's Obama 2.0.  Even that is better than the Republicans, who are off the reservation chasing Koch money rather than facing reality.  So I'll prefer a Hillary victory to a Republican one.  But it would be so nice to have an honest progressive rather than a fake one.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Degree of US Responsibility for Islamic Extremism

When the socialist government in Afghanistan asked the Soviet Union to intervene to help repel the Islamic extremists, we all know the response from the US.  Military support for the Islamists.


The elected government in Iran in 1953 was secular.  The CIA overthrew that government for profit.  The current theocracy there is a direct reaction to that.

It's pretty well understood among the most respected sources that ISIS was created by the US.  Not that it was created intentionally, but it was a direct consequence of the US invasion of Iraq and the way the occupation was managed.  ISIS was also provided with military armaments from the US.  The theological roots of ISIS stem from elements in Saudi Arabia, which exist thanks to critical US military support of that regime, which enforces the ultra conservative Wahhabi form of Islam.

Hamas was funded by Israel.  The PLO was regarded as too powerful, so Israel helped nurture the Islamic extremist elements in the Palestinian territories as a divide and conquer strategy.  Hezbollah likewise is a result of Israeli action.  It was formed by Muslim clerics in response to the invasion and occupation of Lebanon in an effort to repel them.

This is what is frustrating to me about complaints from conservatives about radical Islam.  Every major radical Islamist presence has it's roots in policies supported by the very conservatives that decry radical Islam.  If we really have a problem with Islamic extremism we should ask ourselves why we allow our government to foster, nurture, and support it.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Bob Dutko and I talk about Saed Abedeeni

I often see items in my Facebook feed from conservative friends decrying the treatment of Saed Abedeeni, a Christian pastor that's currently being held in prison in Iran.  I find it frustrating.  Sure, it would be great if Saed was released.  I'm all for it.  But for an American war monger like Bob Dutko, who supports imprisoning people indefinitely even though they've not been charged with a crime, and in fact in some cases have been cleared for release, for him to lecture Iran and pretend to tell them that they are morally wrong in imprisoning someone, well it's ridiculous, and I called him up to explain why.  Audio below.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Back Of My Mind

It's funny to me how some truths take some time to really sink in.  I'd heard years ago that meat consumption was worse for the planet in terms of global warming then the entire petroleum industry.  This was from a conservative that was trying to downplay the need for concern about global warming.  I guess the argument was that if I'm not talking about meat, which is worse, then global warming isn't a concern?  That doesn't make sense but in any case, maybe that is something I should be talking about.

So that's been in the back of my mind for a while.  Also in the back of my mind is something I think a lot of people have in the back of their mind and don't think about.  Humanity's treatment of animals is a horror show.  There's a movie called Earthlings which shows the violence directed towards animals by humans.  I haven't watched it, I'm not sure I want to put myself through it.  Here's the trailer.  I watched that.  That might be about all I want to try and handle, though maybe I will watch the full movie at some point.  This is beyond bad.

So I've decided to step it up and stop eating meat and dairy.  So far, about two weeks in, I have to say it's been easier than I thought.  I don't really crave it.  The only problem I've had is sometimes the limit on my options has been inconvenient.  We had food brought in for a work meeting and all I could eat was cole slaw and corn bread.  It's not ideal, but tolerable.

I can't say it's done me any good health wise here nearly two weeks in.  Nor can I say it has made me worse off.  From what I read it should be a more healthy way to eat.  The down side is it may cost more (I'll know soon enough) and of course I have to pass on some tasty food.  I can live with that.