Monday, November 5, 2018

The 2018 Mid-Terms, Love, Hate or the Overlap at the Polls?

For the first time in a very long life of political interest, I have absolutely no idea how the mid-term elections tomorrow will turn out. But I do know this:

There is a very large overlap in opinion that prevents this election from being a referendum on either love or hate for the current state of politics in America. A sweep on either side is unlikely. My hope is that the overlap will show itself.

My ballot was an early one, as I live outside the country and it has already been counted. And, of course, that ballot was marked by choices among candidates, because that’s the system under which we are governed. But individual candidates are a long way from telling the true story. The true story, if it reveals itself, is one of overlap.


Friday, November 2, 2018

We Humans Have Become Just Another Failed Experiment

There are lots of failed experiments in the history of our planet, so don’t shed too large a crocodile tear. Evolution is made up of the failed and the successful. Most of the oldest species still remaining on earth are ocean creatures, but the ones we would recognize are whitetail deer (3.5 million years), zebras (4 million years), red pandas (5 million), sandhill cranes (10 million), hedgehogs (15 million) and—drumroll—the Virginia opossum (an almost unbelievable 70 million).

They may not be around much longer, because since 1972 man-made environmental change has knocked off 60% of the animal species on earth.

By comparison, the modern human has been roaming around for about 200,00 years—a mere eyewink in hedgehog history. 

To make the point, the deer, zebras, pandas, cranes, hedgehogs and possums were fine-tuning their survival skills, while we humans kept on workin’ on larger and larger brains. Writer Kurt Vonnegut made the observation that our big brains were killing us and he wasn’t far from right.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Insatiable; a Porn Story, but Not That Kind

I was glancing through the newspaper a few days back, wondering where all the positive stories had gone from our news, when I ran across this:

‘Tech stocks battered after disappointing Amazon and Alphabet results: after the bell, Amazon tanked 8 percent. The fall came after the online retailer and cloud computing heavyweight reported that its quarterly net sales rose to $56.58 billion from $43.74 billion a year earlier. That missed analyst estimates of $57.1 billion’…(

So, the Insatiable investor class punished Amazon by 8% for missing their estimates by 2 ½%. Well, that oughta teach ‘em. “When we make quarterly estimates, no matter that we don’t have a fucking clew about how to actually run such a company, they better listen up,” said Ritchie Rich, flashing his Insatiable investor million-dollar smile and raising a carefully tweaked and surgically enhanced eyebrow.

That’s pornographic.


Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Age of Lost Legitimacy

What is legitimate (in accordance with recognized or accepted standards or principles) in this world as we move forward? 

Along with statesmanship, is it well and perhaps permanently behind us? We know where statesmanship went—long gone, the victim of partisan politics, but what of legitimacy itself?

One might wonder if it is legitimate to continue to support a Saudi government in the clear evidence of primary responsibility for the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center, their support of the most radical forms of Islam and continued human rights suppression. This is best and most recently indicated by the murder and dismembering of a critical journalist within their embassy in Turkey. 

Yet armaments sales are offered as a reason (more likely the reason) for the unreasonable, because profits and jobs at Boeing, Lockheed and Ratheon are more important and we must use them to stabilize oil prices, even as oil fades as an energy source. They are on our side against Iran in the Middle Eastern death spiral.

Reasons, reasons aplenty, but are they legitimate?

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand

Abraham Lincoln’s famous proclamation is as true of our global human presence as it is of houses. In his case he meant the evils of slavery and the bitter and tragic American Civil War kept the ‘house’ standing, even though its ‘divisions’ remain apparent.

Enough about that. It’s merely background for the subject at hand, which is the impending disappearance of yet another species. What makes the subject relevant is that the species headed for extinction is humanity itself. Those who are presently alive on this planet, such as you and I, who will witness the early stages of our undoing, along with those who come after us.

What gives it further relevancy is the elephant in the room. We worry (and do nothing) about climate change, fret (and do nothing) about the dangers of unfettered capitalism, highlight the horrors (and do nothing) of floating islands of plastic the size of the state of Texas in our oceans and debate (while doing nothing) our concerns for social justice and wage-equity in the newspapers and on social media.

The elephant in the room is population and it comes as no surprise that we will do nothing about that either.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Gas Was Certainly Used in Syria—But By Whom?

Here we are again, with a charge chillingly close to the false claims against Saddam Hussein that destroyed Iraq and inflamed the Middle East. Bashar Assad has been accused of the recent gas attacks on civilians and the West is thirsting for ‘action.’

Britain, France and the United States are aligned to ‘punish’ Vladimir Putin, with little solid evidence other than ‘gas was used.’

Wonderful. The world has been presented with yet another opportunity to escalate its response and we all know how that has worked out in the past. Politicians are still running for cover from the Iraq story, but the damage has been done and a nation permanently destroyed.

So, here we go again, with ‘saving face’ taking priority over saving Syria. What is at stake goes far beyond the stakeholders. Russia is not good at backing down under such circumstances, as the case in Ukraine so elegantly proved.

Any one of the disparate groups fighting Assad, finding themselves on the losing side as Russia becomes involved, might well have been responsible for the attack. Certainly it does not work for Assad at the very moment he seems able to remain in ultimate control of Syria. It simply makes no sense.

Beyond that, take a look at those who are making the most noise in the West (none of whom have boots on the ground in Syria). Teresa May is hanging on to her job by a thread, Emmanuel Macron is under great pressure in France and Donald Trump needs something (almost anything) to show his strongman decision-making in America. The three of them have too many ‘other reasons’ to divert the conversation.

Essentially, they are not credible and their collective lack of credibility, history will tell us, works out very badly in the run-up to wars that should never have been fought.

Yet we don’t seem to learn from that history. The stakes are way too large for another lesson in history repeating itself.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Laws for Some of Us but Not All, Proving Again that Law Is Not Justice

Pardon me while I try to control my anger.

Bank of America paid its way out of criminal activity a week ago…and we din’t even bother to rise off our sofas in outrage. Essentially, we as a nation don’t give a damn and so the Banksters just smile their way to the next quarter’s earnings reports. Donald Trump seems to have sucked all the oxygen out of indignation.

This Reuters article (Jonathan Stempel, March 23, 2018) is just a bit over a week old today, but it slipped by almost overnight as ‘yesterday’s news.’

Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) will pay a $42 million fine and admitted wrongdoing to settle claims by New York’s attorney general that it fraudulently routed clients’ stock trades to outside firms…He (NY Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman) said the bank told clients it was processing the trades in-house, even going so far as to alter trade confirmations, as part of an effort to make its electronic trading services appear safer and more sophisticated than they were.

Interesting that, in the devolution of language, fraud is now downgraded to the far more soothing and agreeable term wrongdoing—something you might accuse your child of when he is found-out skipping a class to sneak off into the woods.