Sunday, June 26, 2022

California must protect itself from the rise of "A Handmaid's Tale" theonomist judiciary as more is at risk than abortion and gay marriage

Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition is a popular meme which, if you click the link, is supported by videos viewed by millions, graphic images, and even T-shirts. It has not been used in reference to the Supreme Court. Yet.

Contrary to everything I understand about religion vis-à-vis the Judicial Branch within the Union is reflected in this from Wikipedia:
   Of the 113 justices who have been appointed to the court, 91 have been from various Protestant denominations, 12 have been Catholics (one other justice, Sherman Minton, converted to Catholicism after leaving the Court). Another, Neil Gorsuch, was raised in the Catholic Church but later attended an Episcopal church, though without specifying the denomination to which he felt he belonged.
    At the beginning of 2010, Justice John Paul Stevens was the sole remaining Protestant on the Court In April 2010, Justice Stevens announced his retirement, effective as of the Court's 2010 summer recess. Upon Justice Stevens' retirement, which formally began on June 28, 2010, the Court lacked a Protestant member, marking the first time in its history that it was exclusively composed of Jewish and Catholic justices. Although in January 2017, after seven years with no Protestant justices serving or nominated, President Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Court, as noted above it is unclear whether Gorsuch considers himself a Catholic or an Episcopalian.
    This development led to some comment. Law school professor Jeffrey Rosen wrote that "it's a fascinating truth that we've allowed religion to drop out of consideration on the Supreme Court, and right now, we have a Supreme Court that religiously at least, by no means looks like America".
That "we have a Supreme Court that religiously at least, by no means looks like America" is a bit of an understatement. Consider this chart:

While generally courts are expected to administer the law as written, or at least as the judge reads it, the Supreme Court applies standards to laws to decide if they violate statements such as "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States."

Some of us think that which religion one was raised in can influence what one believes is right and wrong. Some of us think that one's values are influenced by grade school and high school experiences. Some of us think that adults make judgements based upon their associations with their college professors and fellow university students, as much as they do based on which books they read.

So, yes, it is troubling not only for law school professor Jeffrey Rosen but of many Americans that five of the eight current Supreme Court Justices were raised Roman Catholic while the other three were raised in Judaism. It is also troubling that four of the eight (half) attended parochial schools. It is also troubling that not one attended a state institution of higher learning at any time in their college education.

Even if one ignores the fact that only three of the Justices are women, or only one is Hispanic and only one is black while seven are white, one could comfortably state that we have a Supreme Court that by no means looks like America in terms of formation of values and intellect.

Note that the caption under the picture at the top of this post states "Theonomists use Biblical moral pronouncements as the standard by which the laws of governments may be measured." It's surprisingly easy for many older persons to dismiss this theonomist concern about the Court when discussed only in the context of abortion or gay marriage. But it isn't quite as easy to dismiss it when considering Justice Neil Gorsuch's reasoned doctoral thesis that asserts that assisted suicide for the terminally ill is homicide - no mitigations are allowed:

What if within the next decade the Constitutionality of state laws allowing assisted suicide for terminally ill patients is resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court? Here are excerpts from The Right to Receive Assistance in Suicide and Euthanasia, with Particular Reference to the Law of the United States written in 2004 by Trump-appointed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, when he was a candidate for a DPhil degree in law (legal philosophy), University College, Oxford, supervised by the natural law philosopher John Finnis :
    I consider legal doctrine surrounding autonomy and personal privacy, and conclude that it is likely too weak a foundation on which to build a judicially created right to assisted suicide (Chapter V).
    I submit that there is a secular moral theory which, to date, has been largely neglected in contemporary American debate over assisted suicide and euthanasia. This theory rests on the notion that the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.
    After considering arguments from history, fairness, autonomy doctrine and theory, and utilitarianism, I suggested that courts and legislators may wish to consider a less frequently voiced perspective on the assisted suicide and euthanasia question, one grounded in the recognition of human life as a fundamental good. Under this view, private intentional acts of homicide are always wrong. Recognizing human life as intrinsically, not instrumentally, valuable, I submitted, would rule out assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Take a hard look at that list of Justices above.

One of the three names most mentioned by the "Trump people" to replace Kennedy is Amy Coney Barrett. Raised a Catholic, she graduated from St. Mary's Dominican High School in New Orleans. She received her BA from Rhodes College (formerly known as Southwestern Presbyterian University after being founded as the Masonic University of Tennessee), a private college located in Memphis, Tennessee. She then went to the Catholic Notre Dame Law School, where she taught full time as a Professor of Law from 2002 until 2017. She continues to teach part-time since since November 2, 2017, when she received Senate confirmation after President Donald Trump nominated Barrett to serve as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

She has seven children: five biological children and two children adopted from Haiti.

She is an active member of a particularly conservative Catholic religious group called People of Praise described as follows in Wikipedia:
    People of Praise was formed in 1971 by Kevin Ranaghan and Paul DeCelles. Both men were involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, in which Pentecostal religious experiences such as baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues and prophecy were practiced by Catholics. In its early history, it influenced the institutional development of the Catholic Charismatic movement in the United States and played important roles in national charismatic conferences.
    People of Praise practices a controversial form of spiritual direction that involves supervision of a member by a more spiritually mature person called a "head". People of Praise maintains that members retain their freedom of conscience under such direction. The community excludes women from the highest leadership positions and teaches that men are the spiritual leaders of their families. At the same time, it encourages women to pursue higher education and employment. Former People of Praise member and Catholic critic Adrian Reimers has accused People of Praise of being too ecumenical and of compromising Catholic teaching by embracing Protestant ecclesiology.
    It is not a church or denomination, and membership is open to any baptized Christian who affirms the Nicene Creed and agrees to the community's covenant. The majority of its members are Catholics, but Protestants can also join. It has 21 branches in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean, with approximately 3,000 members including children. It founded a group of non-denominational Christian schools, Trinity Schools.
During Barrett's Circuit Judge confirmation hearing, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein questioned Barrett about whether her Catholic faith would influence her decision-making on the court. Feinstein, concerned about whether Barrett would uphold Roe v. Wade given her Catholic beliefs, stated "the dogma lives loudly within you, and that is a concern". The line of questioning became a point of outrage from many of her defenders, both Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

The subject of Feinstein and other Democrats' concern was a 1998 article by Barrett where she argued that Catholic judges should in some cases recuse themselves from death penalty cases because of their moral objections to the death penalty. Feinstein's line of questioning was criticized by some observers and legal experts while defended by others.

During her hearing, Barrett said: "It is never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge's personal convictions, whether they arise from faith or anywhere else, on the law." That might seem comforting to some, but as reported her academic writing is far less comforting to those who support Roe and Obergefell:
     "There is little reason to think that reversals [of past decisions] would do much damage" to the court's reputation, she wrote. "I tend to agree with those who say that a justice's duty is to the Constitution" rather than to a precedent she thinks is clearly in conflict with it.
People learn not only from the upbringing and education, but as young adults from who they work for. Barrett worked a year as clerk to late Justice Antonin Scalia. Over the years Scalia repeatedly called upon his colleagues to strike down Roe v. Wade. In Obergefell v. Hodges in which the 5-4 majority decision written by Justice Kennedy struck down laws prohibiting gay marriage, in his dissenting opinion Scalia noted there were no evangelical Christians on the Court (he also literally dismissed California which we'll explore later):
    Take, for example, this Court, which consists of only nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School. Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single South-westerner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count). Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that comprises about one quarter of Americans), or even a Protestant of any denomination.
Unlike her male counterparts, Barrett admits she is occasionally conflicted about her role as a judge relative to her religion. In a 1998 article Barrett argued that Catholic judges should in some cases recuse themselves from death penalty cases because of their moral objections to the death penalty. Presumably she does not want the murderer to die. And presumably she would be conflicted about physician assisted suicide, but whether she would recuse herself if that subject reached a court she was on is doubtful.

It is worth noting the other blunt, though perhaps heartfult, dissents in the Obergefell case.

Chief Justice Roberts noted: "Today’s decision...creates serious questions about religious liberty. Many good and decent people oppose same-sex marriage as a tenet of faith, and their freedom to exercise religion is—unlike the right imagined by the majority—actually spelled out in the Constitution." He goes further stating: "The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to “advocate” and “teach” their views of marriage. ...The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to “exercise” religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses." He does not elaborate on what he means by "exercise" religion in the context of its impact on others.

Justice Samuel Alito expressed concern that the majority's opinion would be used to attack the beliefs of those who disagree with same-sex marriage, who "will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools", leading to "bitter and lasting wounds" and defending the rationale of the states, accepting the premise that same-sex marriage bans serve to promote procreation and the optimal child rearing environment.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote: "Aside from undermining the political processes that protect our liberty, the majority’s decision threatens the religious liberty our Nation has long sought to protect." He extensively explored the history of religion in from the time of the colonies noting that "in our society, marriage is not simply a governmental institution; it is a religious institution as well" concluding that "today’s decision might change the former, but it cannot change the latter. It appears all but inevitable that the two will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.'

Thomas is unrestrained as he offers his key opinion about the primacy of his Catholic upbringing over other individual right issues such as the Constitutionality of state laws banning gay marriage:
    The majority appears unmoved by that inevitability. It makes only a weak gesture toward religious liberty in a single paragraph.... And even that gesture indicates a misunderstanding of religious liberty in our Nation’s tradition. Religious liberty is about more than just the protection for “religious organizations and persons . . . as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.” ... Religious liberty is about freedom of action in matters of religion generally, and the scope of that liberty is directly correlated to the civil restraints placed upon religious practice.
"Religious liberty is about freedom of action in matters of religion generally, and the scope of that liberty is directly correlated to the civil restraints placed upon religious practice." What that literally says is that if a Christian majority in a community voted to start ducking witches (those that practice the Wicca religion), Thomas apparently would struggle with legally condemning the practice as he abhors civil restraints placed on religious practice. And he makes it clear that he thinks America's religious history deserves a place in the law as in his opinion he notes: "Many of the earliest immigrants to America came seeking freedom to practice their religion without restraint. ... When they arrived, they created their own havens for religious practice. ... Many of these havens were initially homogeneous communities with established religions."

Roberts, Alito, and Thomas are three of the four "conservatives" on the Court. Gorsuch, whose words about physician assisted suicide are quoted above, was not on the Court at the time of the Obergefell case.

The Threat of Christian Theonomist Rule

In the map below, the dark grey states are those that adopted certain theonomist laws in the years between 2011-2016, the years leading up to the 2016 elections in which the Republicans won the majority of U.S. House of Representatives, the majority of the U.S. Senate, and the office of  U.S. President, which will lead to a solid Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court:
The issue these maps present isn't whether anyone has the right to believe in words in the Bible or rules of personal behavior pronounced by men based on those words. Rather it is what determines the proper role of a state in regulating the personal lives of its people, most particularly when large numbers of people disagree.

In those dark grey states if the adoption of Islamic Sharia law was proposed, those that backed the adoption of certain theonomist laws in the years between 2011-2016 would threaten revolution. In their minds they see no comparison between implementing laws restricting abortion and Sharia law.

As explained by Canadian professor of comparative religion who from 1964–1973 was director of Harvard University's Center for the Study of World Religions Wilfred Cantwell Smith in his Islam in Modern History: "What theology is for the Christian, law is for the Muslim." The problem is within these United States despite the assurances of separation of church and state, controversial biblical pronouncements have a way of becoming law. Thus when I saw the original of the greyed map, I realized that Smith's statement in 21st Century America would be: "What should be Christian theology has become judicially imposed law within these United States."

My understanding is that the belief structure of the majority of the populous in those ten states resulted in the actions of two houses of each state's legislature and the governor of each state putting into law those restrictions.

For me the best understanding that belief structure can be found in the Kansans for Life: Issues web page (Kansans for Life is the largest anti-abortion group in the state) telling their followers (emphasis added) "Our society now recognizes that past discrimination on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity and social status was deeply unjust."

That web page also indicates their immediate political agenda:
    Pro-lifers oppose abortion because it takes the life of a human being before he or she is born....
    We oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide....
    We oppose embryonic stem cell research.... Human embryos are human beings.... And all human beings, regardless of appearance or location (e.g., a petri dish), ought to be treated with respect and not as mere raw material to use for the hypothetical benefit of others.
Notice that their newly discovered unjust discrimination basis does not include "religion" which you might want to argue isn't an indicator of anything. Except you might notice the picture at the top of that issues web page:

And then you might move your cursor over to the "Resources" link at the top of the page and discover this:

Now one might accuse me of making an unfair judgement about people wishing to impose their religious beliefs on others and considering them dangerous to Californians. But I would call the reader's attention to this 2012 article The Koch Brothers and Kansans for Life: The Alliance That Killed the Kansas Moderate or this Topeka rally for life brings thousands to state Capitol.

The first explains how seeking to eliminate government regulations and taxes on business in just one red state the very successful national Koch brothers Neoliberal network joined with a strong Christian political movement which seeks to expand and tighten state and federal government regulations on the lives of individuals.

The second indicates the deep involvement of Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and the other Kansas bishops in the Kansans for Life political movement even using students from Catholic grade and high schools. Not that Kansans for Life is a Catholic organization which is clear from this:

Still, many have a problem with the abortion and gay marriage issues being used to demonstrate an insidious encroachment on freedom. Why would I think this is dangerous to Californians?

"California does not count." Justice Antonin Scalia 

I was born in California. I went to elementary school in California. My California high school 1962 graduating class was 393±  students.

It included 28 Japanese-American students (7%) who were born in the Internment Camps where Japanese Americans were relocated - well, American citizens who were as little as 1/16 Japanese heritage and orphaned infants with "one drop of Japanese blood" were placed in internment camps.

It included 41 Hispanic students (10%). Many of their parents and/or grandparents were impacted by the so-called Mexican Repatriation:
    The Mexican Repatriation was a mass deportation of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans from the United States between 1929 and 1936. Estimates of how many were repatriated range from 400,000 to 2,000,000. An estimated sixty percent of those deported were birthright citizens of the United States. Because the forced movement was based on race, and ignored citizenship, the process arguably meets modern legal definitions of ethnic cleansing.
If you add in the two Black classmates (issues: slavery and segregation), the two Chinese classmates (issue: the 1892 - 1940 Chinese Exclusion Act, the only U.S. law ever to prevent immigration and naturalization on the basis of race), and the three Native American classmates (issue: genocide, forced relocation, and removal of children), the governments in the Union (with U.S. Supreme Court approval in some cases) committed heinous acts based on racial bigotry against the parents and/or grandparents of about 20% of my classmates.

Am I paranoid about young black men being murdered by cops, by Hispanic deportation outside the norms of our federal court system, the bluster and potential fallout from "Trade War with China" and the anti-Muslim rhetoric? Or are my concerns valid?

I'm a Californian whose high school graduation in 1962 included a non-mandatory separate invocation event held apart from the graduation ceremony. It was jointly led by a Buddhist Priest, a Jewish Rabbi, a Protestant Minister, and a Catholic Priest. If we were holding such an invocation today it would include others, such as Islamic and an Amah Mutsun Tribal Band representation.

As noted in the chart above and similar to all the current "conservative" Justices, Justice "California-does-not-count" Scalia was raised a Catholic in New York City, attended Xavier High School, a Jesuit (Catholic) military school in Manhattan. He earned his bachelor of arts degree at Georgetown University, also a Jesuit school, and attended  Harvard Law School. Classmate and future New York State official William Stern remembered Scalia in his high school days: "This kid was a conservative when he was 17 years old. An archconservative Catholic. He could have been a member of the Curia. He was the top student in the class. He was brilliant, way above everybody else."

Scalia died in February 2016. But that comment "he could have been a member of the Curia" is troubling on many levels as I believe that it reflects a level of truth about the four "Conservative Justices" listed on the chart above who will remain after the retirement of Justice Kennedy.

Am I paranoid to think there is a real threat of Christian theonomist rule through the Court? Or are my concerns valid?

California now finds itself under a Union government based on minority rule, but it is more like Scalia said: "California does not count."

One of the more misleading 2016 election facts is frequently repeated in the press. And now with the resignation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy it is being repeated again. For instance, New York Magazine tells us:
    Democrats have won the national vote in six of the last seven presidential elections, which, with the retirement of Anthony Kennedy, will have resulted in the appointment of eight of the Supreme Court’s nine justices. And yet four of those justices will have been appointed by presidents who took office despite having fewer votes than their opponent.
    The House has a massive Republican tilt, requiring Democrats to win the national vote by six or seven points in order to secure a likely majority. The Senate has an even more pronounced tilt, overrepresenting residents of small states, which tend to be white and rural.
Factually the Union has never been a democracy so it shouldn't surprise anyone that:
  • Donald Trump won the Presidency by winning the Electoral College even though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a substantial margin;
  • Republicans won a substantial majority in the House of Representatives even though Democrats received the majority of the popular vote cast for House candidates; and
  • U.S. Senators were not even elected until the 20th Century and the Senate was never intended to reflect the will of the voters nationally.
But there is also another set of facts.
  • Without counting California votes, Donald Trump won the popular vote in the 2016 Presidential Election.
  • Without counting California votes, the Republicans won the popular vote cast in the 2016 House elections.
It is no small irony that Justice Kennedy, a Californian appointed to the Court by President and Former California Governor Ronald Reagan, while on the Supreme Court usually voted far more conservatively than would be accepted in California.

Only about a third of California voters vote Republican. That reflects California's substantive cultural differences with the red states. We need to consider the following maps:

The map above indicates which political party controls the state legislature, with the blue states controlled by Democrats. This map would seem to belie the quote above when it says: "Democrats have won the national vote in six of the last seven presidential elections." These United States, after all, is not a country, nation, or state, but a Union of diverse states as explained here in Why factually these United States is a more perfect Union, not a country, nation, or state.

But diversity is one thing. This was the map of the Union that immediately preceded Obergefell v. Hodges:

Is there anything about this map that looks similar to the maps above? Considering all of the maps above, would this map surprise anyone:

While I have no problem with these folks trying to alter the behavior of individuals through persuasion (free speech), what they have accomplished within those states is imposing their beliefs about individual behavior on everyone through the law. And what now seems possible is that they could succeed in altering the Wilfred Cantwell Smith phrase "what theology is for the Christian, law is for the Muslim" to "what should be Christian theology has become judicially imposed law within these United States."

Lest you think I'm overstating the situation, consider this. Chief Justice Roberts stated: "Many good and decent people oppose same-sex marriage as a tenet of faith, and their freedom to exercise religion is—unlike the right imagined by the majority—actually spelled out in the Constitution." Justice Thomas wrote: "The First Amendment enshrined protection for the free exercise of religion in the U. S. Constitution."

Those statements are simply a lie. The First Amendment states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The key word there is "Congress." At the time of the adoption of the First Amendment, several states had state "established" religions and had laws the favored one religion over another. Other states had laws protecting religious practices ...well, Christian religious practices.

The difficulty in challenging the belief structure of the Court's majority has its foundation in cat videos. Odds are the people today who in the future might find themselves in the same disadvantaged position others did before Roe or Obergefell likely can tell you about YouTube videos in great detail. They just couldn't provide any hint of understanding regarding the fact that Abrahamic religions are one of the major divisions in comparative religion, along with Indian religions, Iranian religions, East Asian religions, African religions, American religions, Oceanic religions,  and classical Hellenistic religions.

The fact is the majority of Americans upon seeing the man pictured to the left would absolutely assume he is a Muslim. In fact, his "freedom to exercise religion" initially was prohibited by the U.S. Postal Service (see news release).

Despite the fact that turban wearing bearded members of the Sikh faith have been a significant element in the British and Indian armies - by the beginning of World War I Sikhs in the British Indian Army totaled 20 percent of the force and by 1945 fourteen Victoria Crosses were awarded to Sikhs, a per-capita regimental record - the good Christian United States military defending our "free exercise" of religion until 2017 would not permit them to serve wearing the turban and beard offering up all sorts of reasons belied by the obvious British/Indian history. And then consider this news story:

    Sikhism was founded in the 16th century by Guru Nanak in Punjab, an area that is now divided between India and Pakistan. Nanak rejected the rituals involved with other South Asian religions and stressed the importance of good deeds such as serving others and treating all people equally.
    The monotheistic religion has more than 25 million followers worldwide and about 500,000 in the United States. Yet a majority of Americans -- 60% -- admitted in a 2015 survey that they knew nothing at all about Sikhs.
    Lawyer and activist Valarie Kaur says the threat of violence seems to have become mainstreamed.
    Her grandfather settled in California a century ago, and she knows firsthand from her family that discrimination against Sikhs existed long before 2001. But 9/11, she says, was a paradigm shift, a turning point.
    She used to talk about living in the "shadow of 9/11." Then the shadow turned out to be long, and what seemed temporary became permanent.

There are between 500,000 and 700,000 Sikhs in the United States, roughly half of them in California. Of course, the beloved Conservative Catholic Justice Scalia made it clear - California does not count.

I must now digress a bit. Being a Northern Californian I did work with a Sikh I considered a friend who was of my generation. Of course, he was a Californian, so his father was Sikh, his mother of Mexican descent, and he was married to a white woman. He was born and raised in the southern-most part of California where he attended a segregated public school (yes, like the rest of the country California has a past bloated with bigotry) and was a beneficiary of Mendez v. Westminster which is part of Scalia's California does not count.

In 1947 a federal circuit court in California ruled that segregation of school children was unconstitutional—except this case involved the segregation of Mexican American school children years before the U.S. Supreme Court ended racial segregation in U.S. schools with Brown v. Board of Education.

The infamous Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reached this historic decision. The Ninth Circuit is generally hated by the right in the United States for its far reaching consistent view that the most important right of all Americans is to be treated equally by other Americans in "the town square."

Historic in its own right, Mendez was critical to the strategic choices and legal analysis used in arguing Brown and in shaping the ideas of a young NAACP attorney, Thurgood Marshall. Moreover, the Mendez case—which originated with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) but benefited from the participation of the NAACP—also symbolized the important crossover between different ethnic and racial groups who came together to argue in favor of desegregation.

But then again, California does not count, so the Mendez case is not taught in Kansas schools so let's return to the subject at hand.

Sikhism is one of the largest organized religions in the world, with 20 million members living in India and 27 million worldwide. But it is not among the Abrahamic religions that claim descent from the practices of the ancient Israelites and the worship of the God of Abraham, the largest of which are (in alphabetical order) Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. These religions have a long history of violence, so much so that the Wikipedia entry has a section headed Violent conflicts with subsection headings Between Abrahamic religions, Between branches of the same Abrahamic religion, and Between Abrahamic religions and non-adherents. This is religion as embraced in American history and law.

I may be paranoid, but...

Some may want to accuse me of paranoia and/or, as they did to Diane Feinstein, accuse me of religious bigotry. But I'm an old Californian whose high school graduation included a non-mandatory separate invocation event where a Buddhist priest led part of the ceremony. I'm an old Californian who had a Sikh friend. I am an old Californian who had friends in high school who because of their racial heritage were born in American concentration camps. I am an old Californian who had friends in high school whose American-born parents and grandparents were subjected to the so-called Mexican Repatriation and whose grand-children are now subjected to an out-of-control Trump immigration policy. I'm an old Californian who does not accept what the Union has become in the 21st Century.

Perhaps I'm paranoid, but just maybe I have a reason to fear the rise of "A Handmaid's Tale" theonomist judiciary regardless of which of the possible nominees for replacement of Justice Kennedy is selected. And that is because of the majority of the people living in the states on the map below do not even know that the "Star Spangled Banner" was written by an avid advocate of slavery and has a verse attacking escaped slaves:

Scroll up to compare this map with maps indicating the related facts - not that facts matter. And God forbid in this country, which according to a sitting Supreme Court Justice "enshrined protection for the free exercise of religion," we would have a mandatory 8th Grade course on comparative religions so we know what religion is and that it includes Islam and Zoroastrianism (one of the world's oldest extant monotheistic religions which enters recorded history in the 5th-century BCE and is practiced by about 11,000 people in the United States and many facets of which are incorporated into Christianity and Islam).

Or does the makeup of the Court itself and the map above together tell us which religions were actually enshrined and which are just tolerated. And which American citizens are deserving of legal protections?

7/10/2018 Update: Nominee Brett Kavanaugh

Somewhat to my surprise President Trump nominated Bret Kavanaugh to replace Justice Kennedy.

As explained above in the original post, some of us think that which religion one was raised in can influence what one believes is right and wrong, one's values are influenced by grade school and high school experiences, adults make judgements based upon their associations with their college professors and fellow university students, as much as they do based on which books they read.

It is very troubling that Kavanaugh's life as can be seen on the chart above adding to the chart in the original post, reads like five of the eight current Supreme Court Justices who were raised Roman Catholic, four of the eight who attended parochial schools, and eight of eight none of whom attended a state institution of higher learning at any time in their college education.

It isn't comforting that Kavanaugh is a regular lector (reader) at his Washington, D.C. church, the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

According to The Lector at Mass - United States Conference of Catholic Bishops this carefully constrained role is:
    In the procession to the altar, in the absence of a Deacon, the reader, wearing approved attire [see GIRM, no. 339], may carry the Book of the Gospels, slightly elevated. In that case, the reader walks in front of the Priest but otherwise walks along with the other ministers.
    Upon reaching the altar, the reader makes a profound bow with the others [see also GIRM, no. 274]. If he is carrying the Book of the Gospels, he approaches the altar and places the Book of the Gospels upon it. Then the reader takes his own place in the sanctuary with the other ministers. (GIRM, nos. 194-195)
    The reader reads from the ambo the readings that precede the Gospel. In the absence of a psalmist, the reader may also proclaim the Responsorial Psalm after the First Reading.
    In the absence of a Deacon, the reader, after the introduction by the Priest, may announce the intentions of the Universal Prayer from the ambo.
    If there is no singing at the Entrance or at Communion and the antiphons given in the Missal are not recited by the faithful, the reader may read them at an appropriate time (cf. nos. 48, 87). (GIRM, nos. 196-198)
    At the conclusion of the Mass, the lector does not process with the Book of the Gospels. The Lectionary is never carried in procession. The lector may join in the procession at the end of Mass in the same order as in the procession to the altar.
Nor is it comforting that Kavanaugh has tutored at the Washington Jesuit Academy, a Catholic private school in the District of Columbia.

In stark contrast, outgoing Justice Kennedy who Kavanaugh clerked for and would replace has been active off the bench as well, calling for reform of overcrowded American prisons in a speech before the American Bar Association. He spends his summers in Salzburg, Austria, where he teaches international and American law at the University of Salzburg for the McGeorge School of Law of the University of the Pacific (founded in 1851 with a Methodist affiliation) and often attends the large yearly international judges conference held there.

Defending his use of international law, in 2005 Kennedy told The New Yorker staff writer Jeffrey Toobin, "Why should world opinion care that the American Administration wants to bring freedom to oppressed peoples? Is that not because there's some underlying common mutual interest, some underlying common shared idea, some underlying common shared aspiration, underlying unified concept of what human dignity means? I think that's what we're trying to tell the rest of the world, anyway."

Not since Episcopalian David Souter has anyone been on the Court who was not raised in Catholicism or Judaism.

Besides the heavy dose of Catholic upbringing represented on the Court, I have one other problem with this Court. Since the Supreme Court was established in 1789, 113 persons have served on the Court. Of the first 100, 40 had no prior judicial experience. A complete list is below, but the 40 include Earl Warren, William O. Douglas, Felix Frankfurter, and Louis Brandeis, just to name a few whose name some Americans might recognize.

No one appearing on this list has been seated on the Supreme Court since 1972 even though the role of the Supreme Court is radically different than that of a judge.



1This is a reprint of a post initially published four years ago in my California First blog.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

The Extended Economic Distortion and a review of what it was like living in America during WWII

In a May 2, 2020, post here the term "" was first introduced:

    In this writer's opinion, too many pundits talk about the economic situation in terms of a recession or even a depression. The problem is mankind has never before seen an economy like the economy of the first two decades of the 21st Century. So we have never seen a reaction to a radical pandemic-based shift during such an economy.
    “It is impossible to overstate the pain that people are feeling now and will continue to feel for years to come,” [Bill] Gates warns us.
    The reaction is likely to lead to an Extended Economic Distortion, not a "great" recession or depression. Mistrust, a general sense of unease, is likely to be felt by most people. And the real meaning of "people" in this context is "consumers" whose spending drives the worldwide "consumer economy" which in the United States represents about 70% of economic activity.

Beginning with that post two years ago, 14 posts here have included some discussion of the Extended Economic Distortion.  Now in its second month, the Russia-Ukraine war has added a different twist. While American fuel costs rise, the headline at CNBC on April 1 was Millions of Brits plunged into fuel poverty on Friday as household energy bills surge and the April 21 Guardian offers People are struggling to pay their energy bills – here’s a simple idea that could help. Simply European nations are being clobbered because of the ties to Russian oil.

The folks at Bloomberg have already told us:

    A barrage of shocks is building that’s unlike anything emerging markets have had to confront since the 1990s, when a series of rolling crises sank economies and toppled governments.
    Turmoil triggered by rising food and energy prices is already gripping countries like Sri Lanka, Egypt, Tunisia and Peru. It risks turning into a broader debt debacle and yet another threat to the world economy’s fragile recovery from the pandemic.

The difficulty in dealing with the situation of Ukraine ties back to the Orange Revolution of November 2004 to January 2005 in Ukraine and was followed in the next decade by Euromaidan, Revolution of Dignity, and the War in Donbas. But Americans know all about this, so no links are needed. (Yeah, right.)

At the beginning of the 2022 Russia-Ukraine war, the head of the World Bank David Malpass said the economic impact of the war stretches beyond Ukraine's borders, and the rises in global energy prices in particular "hit the poor the most, as does inflation". He noted food prices have also been pushed up by the war, and "are a very real consideration and problem for people in poor countries".

Many Americans are eager to aid the Ukraine people even to the point of joining the war against Russia. The fact is black folks have been killing each other for decades in places like Sudan and Ethiopia and all the efforts of George Clooney in the Sudan haven't stirred the American people and their government anything like the Ukraine situation where white folks have been killing white folks for less than two months.

So before we go to war - perhaps against Russia and China - let's pretend that a nuclear war wouldn't be a likely outcome and instead we'd just have to prepare for a war similar to WWII. Here are just a few of the things that were required of Americans then:

  1. Over a year before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, on September 16, 1940, the United States instituted the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 and thereafter inducted 10.1 million men into an armed force of approximately 15 million who fought WWII, of whom 405,399 were killed.
  2. Unlike in WWII, where 27 million Russians died and 10.2 million Chinese died, both civilian and military, the United States experienced no warfare on its mainland.
  3. The U.S government ended all civilian automobile sales on January 1, 1942,  typewriters in March, and bicycles in May. In addition  gasoline, shoes, rubber footwear, silk, nylon, fuel oil, stoves, meat, lard, shortening, food oils, cheese, butter, margarine, processed foods (canned, bottled, and frozen), dried fruits, canned milk, firewood, coal, jams, jellies, and fruit butter were rationed, among other things.
  4. Civilian hospitals received only small amounts of penicillin during the war, because it was not mass-produced for civilian use until after the war. A triage panel at each hospital decided which patients would receive the penicillin.
  5. Officials in American coastal cities were well aware of their vulnerability to air attacks and began ordering practice blackouts long before the Dec. 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor. On March 8, 1941, Seattle became the first major American city to test its blackout procedures. This expanded across America. There were blackout drills that forced people to practice their response to the air-raid alarm signal—a series of intermittent siren blasts. Air-raid wardens supervised the blackout drills, cruising up and down neighborhood streets to make sure no light escaped the houses. By early 1943, there were about 6 million volunteers in public protection roles such as air-raid warden.

Of course, if a nuclear war with both Russia and China occurs, few, if any, Americans would be alive to put up with these inconveniences.

In the meantime, the U.S. is already running out of resources to bail out our economy from the Extended Economic Distortion. So let's calm things down a bit and quit pretending that we have the military capability to beat Russia on their own turf. The last idiots who thought that were the Germans in WWII. Ukrainians are hoping for a stalemate.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

This article caused me an "Oh crap" moment after 40 years worrying about advocating computer tech; Elon Musk's Twitter offer magnifies the anguish

I had just placed in perspective my worries after reading the above article a few days ago when Elon Musk's offer to buy Twitter made the headlines. Today at the livestreamed TED 2022: A New Era conference Musk explained that he hopes to “open source the algorithm” to try and improve trust in the platform.

“Twitter has become kind of the de facto town square, so it is just really important that people have the reality and the perception that they are able to speak freely within the bounds of the law,” Musk noted.

He added: “This is not a way to make money, my strong intuitive sense is that having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the future of civilization, I don’t care about the economics at all.”

It is unclear what Musk thinks "the bounds of the law" are when free speech is the issue. But one thing is certain - Musk feels no constraints and given his economic resources has no constraints. 

Much of the world's population is constrained and feels frustration and anger regarding the constraints. Technology has evolved to the point that the one thing that has become nearly totally unconstrained is the ability of that population to express that frustration and anger to literally everyone else, instantly, to amplify that frustration and anger.

As a member of the "Silent Generation" I feel troubled by even the small, but active role I played in my early unconstrained embrace of computer technology evolution.

In December 1980 my wife and I started a business providing computer services, computerization studies and computer sales to businesses and government.

We were using Tandy Model II's, adding Model 100's (both of which would be considered primitive today), writing and rewriting software. These were early commercially successful computers offered by Radio Shack. By early, I mean they were preceded by the Model I, and the Model 100 was a laptop, maybe the first commercially successful true laptop.

From the beginning we noticed that - contrary to the propaganda - we were generating more paper than ever, not reducing the paper load as was one of the early arguments for computer use. 

But we forged ahead with a future of using computers, though still troubled by the symbol of a lot of results not quite like we anticipated - printouts piling up in and on filing cabinets, desks, etc., which now are huge files stored in the clouds - to what end is unclear.

By the late 1990's we were using Motorola second generation handheld mobile phones. Understand that these were phones, just using radio frequencies to connect to other folks using their wired phones in their businesses and homes, though we could talk to each other and to a few others directly via those radio frequencies.

In the mid-2000's we observed another troubling phenomenon. We had a grandchild that never lived a life that did not include watching screens - TV screens of course, but tablet-shaped toys with screens, and then computers and cell phones with screens which came to be referred to as "devices."

We worried about this, but couldn't quite pin down the broad societal "why" of that worry.

As we all now know, the most socially significant result of this technological evolution is today's social media, as explained in the article linked to the image above:

    Social scientists have identified at least three major forces that collectively bind together successful democracies: social capital (extensive social networks with high levels of trust), strong institutions, and shared stories. Social media has weakened all three. To see how, we must understand how social media changed over time—and especially in the several years following 2009.

It is a long, well-written article that offers a warning about the future:

    ...The newly tweaked platforms were almost perfectly designed to bring out our most moralistic and least reflective selves. The volume of outrage was shocking.
    It was just this kind of twitchy and explosive spread of anger that James Madison had tried to protect us from as he was drafting the U.S. Constitution. The Framers of the Constitution were excellent social psychologists. They knew that democracy had an Achilles’ heel because it depended on the collective judgment of the people, and democratic communities are subject to “the turbulency and weakness of unruly passions.” The key to designing a sustainable republic, therefore, was to build in mechanisms to slow things down, cool passions, require compromise, and give leaders some insulation from the mania of the moment while still holding them accountable to the people periodically, on Election Day.
    The tech companies that enhanced virality from 2009 to 2012 brought us deep into Madison’s nightmare. Many authors quote his comments in “Federalist No. 10” on the innate human proclivity toward “faction,” by which he meant our tendency to divide ourselves into teams or parties that are so inflamed with “mutual animosity” that they are “much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to cooperate for their common good.”
    But that essay continues on to a less quoted yet equally important insight, about democracy’s vulnerability to triviality. Madison notes that people are so prone to factionalism that “where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts.”
    Social media has both magnified and weaponized the frivolous....

Today we understand that worry we had, the "why" that troubled.

As early as 1996 the widening use of mobile phones in law enforcement caused one writer to note that "all these covert horizontal exchanges are potential breeding grounds for autonomous subgroups and informal organization as well as for various kinds of deviant behavior, because the participants can easily agree to attenuate or circumvent prescribed rulings."

At that time the mobile phone was still only a means of voice communications, not the primary visual and audio access to interact with the world for the vast majority of individuals. And it needs to be understood that the current level of interaction is without societal constraint.

Exactly how this means to create a nearly instantaneous "twitchy and explosive spread of anger" could be constrained in a democratic society fully committed to unconstrained communications is difficult to imagine. 

But it will be critical to the survival of democratic forms of government to deal with the shift of the concept of "free speech" from an environment of the "founding fathers" time that essentially limited communications between individuals to those physically present in a common space to a reality that almost anyone, almost anywhere in the world, at any time can communicate speech and images privately to anyone anywhere else in the world.

As I am very old and will not see the outcome of this, I can only hope that younger people such as Jonathan Haidt, the author of the article can guide a process towards an outcome consistent with the beliefs of James Madison. Otherwise the Chinese have a better chance of maintaining their society than we do ours.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

You've heard of NATO, but probably not the UK Joint Expeditionary Force. Ignorance is American.

If you think the U.S. and NATO are leading the European response to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, you might be surprised to learn that leaders of the UK Joint Expeditionary Force nations (shown on the map above) met on March 14 at  Chequers, the country house of Britain’s prime minister.

The next day, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a statement to the press:

    “We agreed that Putin must not succeed in this venture,” Boris Johnson told The Economist the next day. They agreed to “co-ordinate, supply and fund” more arms and other equipment requested by Ukraine. And they declared that JEF, through exercises and “forward defence”, would seek to deter further Russian aggression—including provocations outside Ukraine that might stymie NATO or fall under its threshold.

The story goes on to explain:

    JEF, largely unknown outside defence circles, was established a decade ago as a high-readiness force focused on the High North, North Atlantic and Baltic Sea regions (see map for its members). Unlike NATO, it does not need internal consensus to deploy troops in a crisis: Britain, the “framework” nation, could launch operations with one or more partners. As one British officer puts it: “The JEF can act while NATO is thinking.”

The article also notes: "For Europeans, much of this is about strategic autonomy—in part an effort to insulate their defence from the vagaries of American politics."

The article points out that on January 17th Britain began rushing thousands of NLAW guided missiles to Ukraine (the acronym stands for Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapons which a product of the Swedish company Saab which has been sold to a number of NATO countries). They are also sending anti-aircraft missiles.

As noted in The Baltic Times by Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, whose country has provided over 220 million euros in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine: "In order to ensure the security of our region, defense cooperation in all formats is essential. This is why concrete steps must be taken, including training exercises organized, so that what is being done within the framework of the JEF would also ensure the security of the Nordic-Baltic region more than before."

This should not be confused with the Anglo-French Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF) and other European defense agreements which operate outside NATO.

About that comment “The JEF can act while NATO is thinking.”

It should also be understood that between them Britain and France have about 515 nuclear warheads. Russian, of course, is the other European nation to possess nuclear weapons with about 6,250. Needless to say, the "successful" use of a dozen nuclear weapons by each in the current Ukraine conflict would be catastrophic. It would pretty much make NATO and the United States politically irrelevant.

And, in fact, the possession of those weapons by Britain and France pretty much make NATO and the United States politically irrelevant.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

As with the complexities of Climate Change and The Covid Economy, European History Complicates (The) Ukraine More Than Americans Understand

If you didn't notice, we have been again informed by experts who completed a new study that Climate Change has started and cannot be stopped.

Also the Covid-created Extended Economic Distortion continues unabated as the cost-of-living skyrockets.

And then there is the Russian invasion of Ukraine...

...or The Ukraine as it was called in the millennium when it was part of Russia before the Soviet Union came into being. Of course, there is no justification for starting a war which is the systematic killing of people for a political objective. With that said....

Lest you believe everything reporters born after 1959, and particularly those born after 1989, are telling you about (The) Ukraine, here is something you need to know from Wikipedia:

    Leonid Brezhnev was born on 19 December 1906 in Kamenskoye (now Kamianske, Ukraine) within the Yekaterinoslav Governorate of the Russian Empire, to metalworker Ilya Yakovlevich Brezhnev (1874–1934) and his wife, Natalia Denisovna Mazalova (1886–1975). Brezhnev's ethnicity was given as Ukrainian in some documents, including his passport, and Russian in others.
    His 18-year term as general secretary was second only to Joseph Stalin's in duration. While Brezhnev's rule was characterised by political stability and significant foreign policy successes....

In other words, the man who ran the Soviet Union for the longest period time was a Ukrainian except for Stalin who was a Georgian. You also might find the article How Ukrainian-origin leaders dominated the Soviet Union interesting as it covers the Ukrainian backgrounds of Nikita Khrushchev, Konstantin Chernenko, and Mikhail Gorbachev.

The difficulty for Americans is just how far removed we are from Europe, and more particularly European history. Without wading back through distant history, one needs to understand that in 1903 the map of the area of the Russian Empire now known as Ukraine looked like this:

Good luck finding the word "Ukraine." And that was at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Ah, but many say, the Ukrainians have their own language as a people.

If you ignore what are considered migrant, extinct (or nearly extinct), and foreign languages, the following are languages used in Russia other than Russian: Abaza, Adyghe, Altai, Avar, Bashkir, Buryat, Chechen, Chukchi, Chuvash, Crimean Tatar, Dolgan, Even, Evenki, Erzya, Finnish, Ingush, Kabardianucasian, Kalmyk, Karachay-Balkar, Karelian, Khakas, Kazakh, Khanty, Komi-Permyak, Komi-Zyrian, Mansi, Hill Mari, Meadow Mari, Moksha, Nenets, Nogai, Ossetian, Selkup, Tatar, Tuvan, Udmurt, Ukrainian, Veps, Yukaghir, and Yakut. Of these peoples, which would you be willing to risk a nuclear war to protect their right to self-government, democratic or otherwise.

And just in case you haven't noticed, NATO has expanded into the Russian (Warsaw Pact) sphere since the Soviet system fell apart. Would you consider this aggressive if you were a Russian leader:

Over the course of the 1990s and early 2000s, NATO expanded three times: first to add the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland; then seven more countries even farther east, including the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania; and finally with Albania and Croatia in 2009.

Despite concerns expressed by some Americans and others, as noted by Reuters in December 2021 NATO and the U.S. rejected a statement from the Russian foreign ministry saying "NATO was on a path to draw in Ukraine, leading to the deployment of missile systems there that would target Russia. Such irresponsible behaviour creates unacceptable threats to our security and provokes serious military risks for all parties involved, right up to the point of a large-scale conflict in Europe. Ukraine and Georgia are former republics of the Soviet Union."

This came after Putin on July 12, 2021, actually published his views on the subject in a lengthy essay entitled On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians. If you know what's true and right about the Ukraine situation, of course you have already read it. But if you haven't you should, partly because it was written by Putin, but also because it isn't an inaccurate history though tinged with a particular point of view.

That point of view was clearly described in a February 28 interview of Fiona Hill in Politico:

    Reynolds: So Putin is being driven by emotion right now, not by some kind of logical plan?
    Hill: I think there’s been a logical, methodical plan that goes back a very long way, at least to 2007 when he put the world, and certainly Europe, on notice that Moscow would not accept the further expansion of NATO. And then within a year in 2008 NATO gave an open door to Georgia and Ukraine. It absolutely goes back to that juncture.
   Back then I was a national intelligence officer, and the National Intelligence Council was analyzing what Russia was likely to do in response to the NATO Open Door declaration. One of our assessments was that there was a real, genuine risk of some kind of preemptive Russian military action, not just confined to the annexation of Crimea, but some much larger action taken against Ukraine along with Georgia. And of course, four months after NATO’s Bucharest Summit, there was the invasion of Georgia. There wasn’t an invasion of Ukraine then because the Ukrainian government pulled back from seeking NATO membership. But we should have seriously addressed how we were going to deal with this potential outcome and our relations with Russia.

In other words, knowledgeable U.S. experts have known for a decade and a half that this situation was evolving. But the email titled Russia-Ukraine Conflict Shocks World, Brings Cybersecurity Worries says it all. It is complicated. It is dangerous. And we never once thought it was important. That's not Joe Biden's fault.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Climate Change Black Death:
   No, lithium production is not inherently an
   environmentally friendly way to the future

In Plans To Dig the Biggest Lithium Mine in the US Face Mounting Opposition you can learn about growing resistance to plans by Lithium America, mostly owned by China’s Ganfeng Lithium, the world’s largest producer of the element, to mine lithium at at Nevada's Thacker Pass.

    The opponents view lithium extraction as the latest gold rush, and fear that the desperation to abate the climate crisis is driving a race into avoidable environmental degradation. The flawed assumption behind the “clean energy transition,” they argue, is that it can maintain levels of consumption that are inherently unsustainable.
    “We want people to understand that ‘clean energy’ is not clean,” Max Wilbert, of the Protect Thacker Pass campaign, said. “We’re here because our allegiance is to the land. It’s not to cars. It’s not to high-energy, modern lifestyle. It’s to this place.”

The first thing we need to do is gain some perspective. The article notes:

    ...Despite the reduction in emissions that the widespread adoption of EVs would bring, the Center for Interdisciplinary Environmental Justice at the University of San Diego, an organization of concerned scientists who monitor harms to communities from mining, opposes the electrification of transportation. Their analysis shows that in order to stabilize atmospheric carbon dioxide at 450 ppm by 2050—parts of gas per million parts of air—industrialized countries’ greenhouse gas emissions would have to decrease by 80 percent. Electric cars, the center’s researchers concluded, would achieve just 6 percent of that target, leading them to argue that driving electric vehicles is not a radical enough behavioral change to significantly slow climate change.

Of course,nothing about this is simple. But as we noted here in Climate Change Black Death surrounds us: Britain's "civilized debate" via lithium powered "devices" over solutions to the Climate Change crisis is fiddling while Rome (and the World) burns a similar dispute exists in California's Panamint Valley. The LA Times article included this video

Meanwhile at California's Salton Sea an alternative to mining is evolving:

This writer has pretty much given up discussing this subject area. In the first post here on August 2007 this writer first noted the problem with offshore wind generation along the Pacific Coast - the unknown and not yet discussed potential impact on Gray Whale migration. Additional posts have followed which can be reviewed here. The last post on the subject was Gray Whales threatened as Biden and Newsom push huge Pacific Coast wind farm developments.

The Democratic Party leadership are assuming a panicky demeanor regarding Climate Change. They should. It is literally not possible to avoid significant climate change impacts. And in what can only considered disturbing everyone - including scientists, politicians, and business leaders - only discuss impacts in terms of before the year 2100.

As noted here in The evolving 21st Century Promethean Calamity: "Implicatory" Climate Crisis Denial and Thunberg's GenZ demand to halt Climate Change Black Death Al Gore started telling us about this 45 years ago at age 28 after being elected to the United States House of Representatives and by 1989, 30 years ago, then U.S. Senator Al Gore, in frustration published an editorial in The Washington Post, in which he observed that people see their future welfare, their future well-being, one year at a time. 

In the Covid Crisis we learned that at least a third of our population see only their own household's future economic well-being, and even that at best one day at a time. That has effectively assured the sacrifice of the well-being of future generations.

As noted here in a previous post, in Elizabeth Kolbert's 2014 Pulitzer Prize winning book The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History she explains that the Earth is in the midst of a man-made sixth extinction, chronicling previous mass extinction events, and comparing them to the accelerated, widespread extinctions of our present time. In a July 2014 interview on The Daily Show with John Stewart promoting the book at the end they both acknowledge a kind of despair:

Perhaps we need to ask a question. Is it likely that the nation of humans that perfected world war will sacrifice any significant economic advantage to take on the climate problem?

Thursday, October 7, 2021

The Covid-created Extended Economic Distortion has morphed into a shortage consumer economy

 In the March 6 post here Will the American economy be "at anchor" with nowhere to go? An Extended Economic Distortion? it was noted a record of 40 container ships were at anchor at the ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach on February 1. That's now up to 70+ as the number of full containers languishing in expanded storage areas have multiplied over the months.

Perhaps the most comprehensive article to date on this problem is the Washington Post article Inside America's Broken Supply Chain. But the number of factors impacting the supply chain are myriad, for instance Explainer: why is a drought contributing to the silicon chip shortage? which explains that a drought in Taiwan has made it harder to manufacture chips.

The Covid variants causing labor shortages still limit economic activity; retail prices are surging, including food prices and fuel and energy costs; sourcing of key components such as semiconductors, chemicals and glass has become problematic for many manufacturers; the drought is negatively impacting food production in the American Southwest and around the world as well as the production of silicon chips; the Chinese economy is struggling with a power crunch and a regulatory crackdown, further impacting the supply of key components; the U.S. Congress is stalled over spending and the debt limit, key economic policy issues which could impact the money supply; fearful in inflation central banks are seriously considering ending stimulus measures. The list of problems is becoming endless and multiplying.

The term Extended Economic Distortion was introduced in these posts on May 2, 2020, with an expanded discussion on May7, 2020. As repeatedly noted since then, we cannot predict the course of the Extended Economic Distortion. It will end either through slow adjustments over the next decade or a worldwide economic collapse.

Unfortunately for the world, the American political system offers no consensus on how to address the problem

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Let's be clear - the behavior of people as expressed in civilization is the cause of the climate crisis

This week should have stimulated in this writer hope for the future of civilization. It has not.

The latest update in a new United Nations–led report from the International Panel on Climate Change prepared by hundreds of climate scientists around the world tells us the human-driven climate crisis is now well under way. Essentially civilization is in trouble.

Civilization as explained in Wikipedia refers to organized densely-populated human settlements divided into hierarchical social classes with a ruling elite and subordinate urban and rural populations, which engage in intensive agriculture, mining, small-scale manufacture and trade. Civilization concentrates power, extending human control over the rest of nature, including over other human beings.

Cultural critic and author Derrick Jensen argues that modern civilization is directed towards the domination of the environment and humanity itself in an intrinsically harmful, unsustainable, and self-destructive fashion. Defending his definition both linguistically and historically, he defines civilization as "a culture... that both leads to and emerges from the growth of cities", with "cities" defined as "people living more or less permanently in one place in densities high enough to require the routine importation of food and other necessities of life". This need for civilizations to import ever more resources, he argues, stems from their over-exploitation and diminution of their own local resources. Therefore, civilizations inherently adopt imperialist and expansionist policies and, to maintain these, highly militarized, hierarchically structured, and coercion-based cultures and lifestyles.

In "Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire," the cultural historian Morris Berman writes that "up and down the scale in the United States, a lack of empathy, an almost congenital inability to imagine the pain or the reality of the Other, is bred in the bone." He refers to what he calls an "American hatred of freedom." And he asserts that "the value system of at least 90 percent of the American population (at a conservative estimate), down through the decades, has acted to exclude a number of options that are essential for a healthy society. On one level, one might say that America takes away love and gives its citizens gadgets in return, which most of them regard as a terrific bargain."

The reality is that Americans in positions of power have known for 40+ years that we would reach the current point of climate crisis. Of course, the scientists have to tell us that only a major reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions this decade can prevent climate breakdown, and that some changes may already be “irreversible.”

And, of course, those of us who live in the American created civilization know that is not true- there is absolutely no chance of a major reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions this decade.

The problem actually starts because of the human civilization described above by Morris Berman. More than one article about the new study begins with a summary denial of the truth about the source of the climate problem: "it’s caused by fossil fuels." Actually fossil fuels aren't down there under ground plotting how to get out into the sunlight, building refineries to refine themselves, then drive around in cars spewing carbon dioxide into the air. 

No. it's caused by human beings in a civilization that simply cannot survive as it currently exists.

The problem represented in the comic strip to the right as explained by artist KC Green as: "Well, what are you going to do?"

You cannot create a complex civilization without structure. The structure of the dominant 21st Century civilization places unrestrained wealth economics above all else.

Hence, the comparatively minor economic stress associated with the Covid shutdown created anger and aggravated feelings in favor of antivaccination.

The truth is the Covid pandemic gave the current population a chance,  by doing practically nothing (getting vaccinated), to reduce the danger for everyone (as understood by scientists). Anger and hostility was the result of pushing vaccination.

Imagine trying to envision such a civilization confronted with being told to cut carbon dioxide emissions in half by doing such things as riding a bus instead of driving. It is just easier to believe the chart below is a lie than to restructure how we live.

In 2007 the first post here was about the threat to climate and to Gray Whales. Two months ago the post was Gray Whales threatened as Biden and Newsom push huge Pacific Coast wind farm developments. Literally, the solution to the climate crisis being pushed in California by the Democrats in power is more electricity use while changing the generation of electricity from fossil fuels to other environmentally harmful sources. In the meantime, the LA Times offers Something is killing gray whales. Is it a sign of oceans in peril?

Actually, it is a sign that because of the structure of our civilization - the Earth as we know it - has begun and will continue to undergo severe climate changes that over a period of decades will force the destruction of the current civilization.

It would be nice to say we acknowledge that we clearly understand that the "human driven" climate crisis is the result of the behavior and lifestyle of people. Instead we talk about carbon dioxide emissions which come from fossil fuels, at most blaming vehicles avoiding any reference to the drivers and passengers who are the ones actively destroying the current climate.

In the 40+ years that we have known clearly we have a climate crisis we have pushed our civilization to be more dependent on climate-damaging behavior, not less so. In the process, we, the people, have caused a climate crisis.

Perhaps news sources like the LA Times and most others could start offering headlines that say "People are killing gray whales. Civilization has put oceans in peril." That's the truth even though telling it may result in a minor reduction in retail sales resulting in less income to the news industry which is totally contrary to the values of our civilations.