This Month in Doom May, 2019

That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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               Anthony Freda             

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on May 27, 2019

 “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

-Joseph Goebbels


It's been a while. So shoot me. Since I posted the last "This Week in Doom" article, I have semi-retired, meaning that I live off "Mailbox money" but answer the phone for assignments. I've discovered the joy of completing long-delayed house projects, and savored the delight of the mid-afternoon nap. Yet sometimes articles bust forth unbidden, with the explosive force of a germinating seed. So here we are, after an unseemly delay.

American Tantrum

May 2019 has been a month in which those of us who have feared that, in Yeats' words, "the center cannot hold" have had their worst fears confirmed. This week, a White House meeting supposed to herald Infrastructure Week became Tantrum Day when President Pud blew up a meeting with Pelosi and Schumer, to announce that there would be no legislation until all these damned investigations went away.

President Trump abruptly ended a meeting with Democratic leaders on Wednesday, saying he was unable to work with them on legislation following comments by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that he was “engaged in a coverup.”…

“Instead of walking in happily to a meeting, I walk in to look at people who said I was doing a coverup,” Trump said, adding that he can’t work on infrastructure “under these circumstances.”

A strategy of open, contempt-filled confrontation with Congressional Democrats seems to be the re-election plan for 2020, as the tantrum shows. Thus the Obstructor-in-Chief sought ratification of all crimes past and future, all aided and abetted by a soft, fluffy and pliant Attorney General in William Barr. Trump reportedly told confidants he "finally" has "my attorney general."

The Washington Post's Greg Sargent makes the case:

Trump’s administration appears to be breaking the law to prevent the release of his tax returns, which every other president in the past 50 years has released. He is successfully leaning on his former White House counsel, Donald McGahn, to defy a congressional subpoena, even though McGahn witnessed alleged extensive obstruction of justice by the president that likely rose to criminality.

The attorney general appointed by this “most transparent president” is refusing to release the full, unredacted Mueller report and underlying evidence to Congress, even though that report is to a great extent about that foreign attack on our political system.

Related to that, the White House is claiming that Democrats have no legitimate legislative purpose in seeking those Mueller materials, even though Democrats have clearly articulated just such a purpose: to further safeguard our elections against outside attack.

For their part, congressional Dems are making worried finger-steeples and frowny faces as they dither and fail to reach consensus. Some urge impeachment, while others worry that this will be playing into Pud's hands, since he fully intends to run against the Russian collusion narrative and investigations which he has successfully reframed as "partisan." The Big Lie, repeated enough via serial tweets, amplified by Russian bots and the raging opinion-heads of State TV, may have already reached a tipping point in popular opinion. 

Meanwhile, in flyover country, Trump's base of droolers and miscreants shrieks in delight with every insult offered to non-cult members. "Drain the Swamp," one of the easily-remembered three word chants, obscures the fact that what is getting drained is wallets. A tariff is a tax, and it is US consumers and firms, not China, who are paying it. Trump's tariffs will cost Merikans $500 per household, or $62 billion.  But as long as the wrong people are offended, all's good out here in the land of funnel cakes and neck tattoos.

Trump's ability to brazen his way past law and public opinion is fruit from the poison tree planted by Antonin Scalia, David Arrington and John Yoo. During the Cheney days, this unholy trio articulated the case for the "unitary executive."  Meaning, in effect, "that if the President does it, it can't be illegal." (That sound you hear is Richard Nixon spinning in his grave.) A concept Trump is clearly riding hard. That, coupled with the Roy Cohn approach: "Tell them to go to hell," and "Who's Gonna Stop Me?"

So now we have a serial obstructor of justice claiming executive privilege for every toilet he's squatted on in order to rage-tweet, and claiming the divine right of kings.

So who's gonna stop him?


The world is doomed, according to Paul Ehrlich

No surprise that in a joint called "Doomstead Diner," you'd learn the world is doomed. It seems like yesterday, but it was in 1968 thst Stanford professor Paul Ehrlich and his wife Anne co-wrote The Population Bomb, predicting massive starvation and civilization collapse as a result of over-population. The book, which sold more than 2 million copies and went through 20 reprints by 1971, revisited Malthus' arguments and predicted that “geometric” population growth would overwhelm the "green revolution," leading to wars, famines and societal collapse. 

The “culture wars” of the 1970s subsumed and reconfigured population issues. The Roe decision set ablaze a "pro-life" movement that thought any talk of population reduction anathema. China’s one-child policy, launched around 1980, led to human rights abuses that allowed anti–family planning conservatives to paint all population programs as the work of Satan.The politics of “morning in America” in the 1980s successfully marginalized Erhlich's message.

But his central points remain, even of the time frame was not. Global population has increased at an observably steady clip since 1968, and the United Nations projects that it will reach 9.8 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100. Scientists continue to extend the warnings that Ehrlich advanced, that efforts to feed a rapidly increasing population via pesticide-intensive monoculture may backfire. We are already seeing soil depletion and the burdens of industrial pesticides on topsoil.

In an recent interview with Inddependent Australia, Ehrlich was asked how he would describe the current state of affairs:

We’re not doing anything significant to divert ourselves from the coming collapse and second not thinking hard about what the consequences of that collapse are going to be for people in rich countries. To say nothing of people in poorer countries who are already suffering. A lot of people are dying in Africa right now because of climate change.

There’s been much literature recently on the disappearance of insects. Butterflies that Anne and I worked on for years are becoming rarer and rarer.The Monarch butterfly is disappearing, lots of the birds are gone.  Some people believe we’ve lost almost half of the wildlife on the planet in the last 40 years and the rest of its going to go very fast.

Ehrlich continued:

 Climate change is going to make for a worsening migration situation raising ethical issues about how many people should be allowed to migrate from where to where and under what circumstances. 

Many scientists think we are well past the tipping point considering our accommodation of the political situation and how much carbon dioxide and methane are in the in atmosphere. 

What is so poignant in reading these discussions is the fact that everything that currently afflicts us has been made clear and abundantly known for the last 50 years. We have known, and voted for clowns who would blunt scientific evidence, change the subject, and offer cheapjack nostrums, Then, as now, the problem is the Gospel of Growth:

Growth mania is the greatest danger. It’s the hardest thing to exterminate because the so-called educated people who meet in Davos at the World Destroyers' meeting every year are absolutely dedicated to growth and more consumerism.

Let's go build another strip mall. Read the complete interview here.


Start planning for catastrophes, new EPA document says

In a story that might resonate if you found yourself in the midwest this week, or California last fall, the government says you're on your own. Earlier this month, The EPA published a 150-page document with a stark message for coping with the fallout from natural disasters across the country: start planning for the fact that climate change is going to make these catastrophes worse.

This language on how to address debris left in the wake of floods, hurricanes and wildfires is at odds with the position of Andrew Wheeler, the EPA’s current leader and a past lobbyist for the fossil fuel industry. Wheeler said in an interview with CBS last month that “most of the threats from climate change are 50 to 75 years out.”

How such a document emerged from the Trump EPA is truly remarkable, given tis well known hostility toward anything that asserts the climate is changing.

The group has said that of the more than 130 peer-reviewed studies published as part of the annual reviews, about 65 percent have identified the fingerprints of climate change in extreme weather events, while about 35 percent found no clear connection.

“The science has really developed in the last decade, in particular, around the influence of global warming on extreme events,” said Noah Diffenbaugh, a professor and senior fellow at Stanford University who studies the climate system.

For starters, he said, researchers are constantly gathering more data and studying more weather events, so that the observational record has grown over time. Computing power and modeling capabilities have improved. And there also has been an “explosion of research” on the topic, as scientists have developed frameworks for better evaluating the role of climate change in specific events.

The result, he said, is a growing body of research that details how human-caused climate change is contributing to record heat, more-intense storms, more-severe flooding and other events.

The takeaway here is to be prepared, and realize disaster might come to us, and sooner than we think. And remember that when trouble hits, you're on your own.


Short Takes

Here's what happens to 'biodegradable' bags after 3 years in the sea or soil

After 3 years of being buried and submerged, 'biodegradable' and 'compostable' single-use plastic bags could still hold a full load of groceries. Single-use plastic is an oxymoron that is proving disastrous– a material that is used just once, but lasts forever, or close to it.


The US white majority will soon disappear forever

Snapping the Spine of Uncle Cracker: the white share of the U.S. population has been dropping, from a little under 90% in 1950 to 60% in 2018. It will likely drop below 50% in another 25 years. White nationalists want America to be white again. But this will never happen. America is on its way to becoming predominantly nonwhite.

Demography is destiny: births, deaths and immigration. White women have an average of 1.7 children over their lifetimes, while Latina women average 2.2. The total fertility rates of blacks, Asians and American Indians are in between. So whites have fewer births than all nonwhite groups. 

This sheds all the light necessary to display the root causes of the furious opposition to immigration and the well-funded efforts to suppress the vote. There are lies, damned lies, and those who tell you that voting doesn't matter. If you are one of those people, who endlessly compalain about the "k'rupt duopoly," take a richly deserved bow. Non-voters made Trump happen. Remember that politics is almost always the art of half a loaf, and elections aren't Christmas. Grow the fuck up.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

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