Sunday, August 28, 2022

The Vietnam War: What it meant when the blind pro-war propaganda of a previous generation threatened your commitment to right and wrong?

For reasons not clear to me, today the publication Foreign Affairs offers a Summer Read of articles on America at War in Vietnam and the Sacramento Bee offers Robert McNamara waged war on Vietnam. His son is a California farmer facing that legacy. The McNamara article offers a perspective from a man near my age who has written the memoir Because Our Fathers Lied.

Nothing this complex is easy to understand. But as with millions of men who came of age in the 1960's, the Vietnam War is a triggering memory for me though maybe not as deep as Craig McNamara. My father, a WWII veteran, opposed the Vietnam War but warned me about the dangers of protesting.

Killing people to prop up your ego and to support your own economic dominance in a distant region of the world not even important to your national economy is never a morally correct public policy. So what do you do when you risk being forced by elected American politicians too do exactly that - kill people for exactly those reasons?

You can protest, of course. And if you do so, perhaps you won't be shot by troops as in the Kent State Massacre which involved  the killings of four and wounding of nine other unarmed Kent State University students by the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970 pictured to the left.

Or you could participate in the 1968 Democratic National Convention protests where you could be met with indiscriminate police violence against protesters.

That was later described by the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence as a "police riot".

Or you could even seriously consider moving to Canada in 1966 because you understood after working with a Quaker associated group, there was little or no chance of effectively altering American pro-war policy which gave U.S. politicians there only chance since 1920 to fight a war with "communists." (This kind of moronic ideological thinking among Americans still occurs today with war advocacy against China.)

What continues to be disturbing is that today essentially half the American voting population and a majority of the states represent a ideological view that would have no problem sending their young people off to a meaningless, foolish war. And those my age remember that it was Democrats who facilitated the war.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Will there ever come a time when Americans, or reporters, will know the facts about the nation?

 One can't help but admire the tenaciousness of Liz Cheney and I do hope she continues to work against Trump. But reading the news today gives me little hope that America will ever gain a sense of balance.

The combined populations of Wyoming and Alaska is about 1.3 million people or 0.4% of the U.S. population. They have in total the same 0.4% of America's registered voters. That poplation total is about the same as Dallas, Texas, or San Diego, California.

Wyoming and Alaska have 10 times the representation in the U.S. Senate as their population - 4.0% of the Senators compared to 0.4% of the nation's population.

Democracy? Who are we kidding? And Trump understands that well. These were primary election results, not even representative of voters of all parties. Consider headlines today like Trump gloats over nemesis Liz Cheney’s primary loss, calls her ‘fool’ . Even particularly the press feeds the ignorance.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Let's be clear - per the new sixth annual IPPC report the behavior of people as expressed in civilization is the cause of the climate crisis.

The following was posted one year ago. The situation is worse today as generally indicated in the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.

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 civilization.