Civil War II: The election of 1860, reducere

Civil War II

The election of 1860, reducere

October 28th 2018

There is an article by Stephen Marche in the current Walrus that, while addressed to Canadians, is of major importance elsewhere: “America’s Next Civil War.”

The article delineates a process by which in the fairly immediate future, America may descend into civil war, or perhaps widespread chaos.

The existential threat this provides to Canadians is clear. Much of Canada’s identity and economy result from the twitches and grunts from the slumbering elephant next door, and indeed, Canada’s very existence stems from northern ambition and desire to expand in the wake of their victory in the first civil war. It’s no coincidence that the movement to unify the British colonies into a “not-United States” materialized in 1864, when it was clear the North was going to win. (Some BNA colonists, while absolutely hating slavery, hoped for a prolonged standoff between the Confederacy and the Union, which would nullify American expansionism.)

Of course, the threat is even greater to Americans, who in the event of a civil war can reasonably expect to die by the tens of millions. The first civil war was extraordinarily bloody and vicious; there’s no reason to suppose that a repeat, involving a far larger population that heavily is armed in and of themselves with weapons of mass destruction.

People like to pretend that conditions in the US were more polarized and antagonistic in 1860. They weren’t, at least not outside the more radical enclaves in the deep South. Republicans, sensing the danger the nation faced, backed down and nominated a moderate, who could live with the existing institution of slavery but opposed allowing it to spread westward (reflecting existing law). That moderate, Abraham Lincoln, subsequently became President.

But the southern leadership had adopted an intractable position, and the war happened anyway.

It’s important to remember that most Americans in 1861 believed the war would be brief, relatively bloodless, and would end as soon as the politicians realized it was bad for business. You often hear similar sentiments on the eve of any major war; in living memory, Americans remember how it would take weeks to subdue Iraq and the war would pay for itself. Or so they were told.

Nobody is going to mistake Trump and the Republicans for moderates, and unlike the era of the civil war, the institutions of voting, the judiciary, and congress itself weren’t delegitimize they way they are now. Voters expected their votes to be allowed, and counted. Judges were supposed to be impartial, at least most of the time. Congress was hagridden by moneyed interests, but at least those interests were human residents who had a stake in the country, rather than a multinational bottom line.

I suspect that next week’s election might be the irrevocable last step, the way the presidential election of 1860 was.

The really scary thing is that it may not matter who gets declared the victor in the 2018 elections; the validity will be in grave doubt. If Republicans don’t get their way, they will spin endless conspiracy theories about George Soros, globalists, the ‘deep state’, immigrants and Hillary. If Republicans hold the house, the massive irregularities already evident in George, Kansas and other states will cause many to doubt the validity of the vote count. Nobody will trust state investigators working for states that created the sense of illegitimacy in the first place, And the Trump administration has done an excellent job of carrying out the Republican policy of subverting the courts, making them apparatus of the Party, so there will be widespread mistrust there, as well. And of course neither side will believe press reports, valid or otherwise, seen as coming from “the other side.”

I don’t expect instant disintegration following the election. If the Democrats prevail, there will be lots of outrage on the right, and probably a sharp uptick in terrorist attacks like the ones we’ve seen this week, lots of pearl-clutching on Faux and the right wing media, and outrage as the Trump administration continues to collapse, with the attendant threats of a Reichstag fire or major war as unifying distractions.

The response will be at least temporarily subdued as the same fascists who have been promoting the Republican agenda stop to consider their bottom lines (despite the popular saying, war is actually very bad for business) and strong doubt about what the stance of the American military might be (The officer corps are strongly Republican, but reportedly deeply antipathetic to Trump).

If the Republicans prevail, the chaos may come more quickly. Trump and his handlers will rush to consolidate what they will doubtlessly see as the successful conclusion of a coup against the United States, and a largely disbelieving populace is likely to take to the streets.

Some police organizations are deeply infiltrated by extreme righties and evenneo-Nazis, and they won’t hesitate to use extreme and bloody methods of suppression against what they will call “communist agitators.”

At which point the fuse will be well and truly lit, the ensuing explosion inevitable.

Can this be avoided? I’m not sure. I honestly don’t think so. When America’s closest friend and ally, Canada, begins openly preparing for chaos and bloodshed south of the border and pondering what to do with the inevitable flood of refugees, it means prospects are grim.

Pay attention to this election like your life depends on it. It probably does.

And if you hear public officials opining that the spreading unrest is just temporary and should be over in a few weeks, a month tops, then run for shelter!

Madness Awaits – The savagery of the GOP laid bare

Madness Awaits

The savagery of the GOP laid bare

October 21st, 2018

As the midterms near, the sheer madness of America’s descent has become nakedly clear. A journalist, an American resident, is tortured and murdered in a Saudi Arabian embassy, and the President of the United States spins excuses on behalf of the Saudi Crown Efrit who doubtlessly ordered the murder.

The next day, Pissmop praises a Congressman who body-slammed a reporter for the crime of asking a question. Later, he claimed he was just joking, but the howling, maddened mob who cheered him and made death gestures at reporters in attendance were not joking.

Meanwhile, the propagandistic pseudo-reporters of the far right are transfixed by the existential threat of a group of men, women, and children who are slowly making their way out of the horrors of their homelands in central America, intent on walking the length of Mexico, some 1,800 miles, to petition for amnesty at the American border. Declaring them criminals—which they aren’t—Pissmop told his mindless screamers that something must be done right away, and only the GOP can save them from the ravening horde limping its way north.

The group includes old people and children, and are on foot, so they probably aren’t moving much faster than Pissmop can waddle around his golf course. Let’s see: 1,800 miles divided by waddle equals lots of time to figure out humane and sensible answers. But Pissmop doesn’t want that.

Pissmop claims that Democrats want open borders and this huge menace will invade America the day after the election unless Republicans keep Congress.

The Republicans have abandoned even the efforts to make their lies credible. Today’s local paper had a column labeling the return of insurers being able to deny insurance to people with pre-existing conditions a liberal lie, but the fact it that is exactly what is happening. Up to 40% of the population is at risk of far higher premiums or losing their coverage altogether.

Republican thieves in Congress, avid to steal the trillions allocated for Social Security and Medicare for their rich masters, have announced they plan to impose deep cuts to ‘pay for’ the huge deficits that they themselves have created. Social Security and Medicare aren’t even a part of those deficit and will make no differences to the deficits. But they will steal the pensions and health care from people who have spent their lives paying for it.

Back in 2002 I wrote an essay about a movie, The Man Who Cried with Christina Ricci and Johnny Depp. The movie concerned itself with the rapid descent into utter madness the citroyens of Paris experienced in the wake of the German invasion in 1940. You never see the German invaders. You just hear them marching. Cronch, cronch, cronch. (And I remember wondering what it must have been like for German citizens between 1932 and the final consolidation of Nazi power by mid 1934. Defying Hitler by Sebastian Haffner tells that tale).

Things in America were bad in 2002, as the country went through a big surge of hypernationalism and paranoia in the wake of the 9/11 attacks (brought to you largely by citizens of Saudi Arabia, the same nation Pissmop is being an murder accessory after the fact for), and the article address the snarling viciousness that consumed the country in the wake of the attacks.

While it never really did recover from that, America at least had a reason then. People were frightened and lashing out, and it was pretty easy to see why.

America doesn’t really have that excuse now. White citizens are not in danger of being subsumed by ‘dusky races’. Christians are not being persecuted or even inconvenienced. LGBT folks aren’t trying to force anyone to their lifestyle: they just want you to let them live their lives in peace.

Other minorities don’t want ‘special rights’; they just want the same rights you enjoy. People who recognize that aren’t employing ‘identity politics’; they just aren’t going to throw the rights of their fellow humans under the bus in order to try to appease swaggering bigots.

Yes, the economy is teetering and likely to crash between now and the next general election, but that’s the inevitable result of unrestrained capitalism. Give them enough rope. Entire economies vanish into oligarchic black holes. Republicans swear they are the solution to that, but the fact is they are the cause.

What’s more, it’s what they want. That’s why the deliberate sabotaging of the national treasury, pensions, health care, and the systematic destabilizing of American institutions from voting to the courts. Economies in vast turmoil mean societies in crisis, and that in turn means a cringing, frightened and dependent populace.

The cause of the crises are mostly imaginary, but the crises that arise are quite real, destructive, and useful to Pissmop and his cohorts who stand to benefit from the destruction and debilitation of your personal reality.

Republicans invent crises to try and panic you and make you their dependents, but the reality is that they are the crisis, and it’s one that can still be solved.

Next month, make the Republican party and its would-be dictator an unhappy footnote in history.

Or follow the path of Germany in the 1930s.

Cronch. Cronch. Cronch.

Unreality Show I’ll Take Door Number i for $100, Alex

October 12th 2018

Who would have thought, three years ago, that we would have a black entertainer meeting with the President in the Oval Office and arguing for the repeal of the 13th amendment?
Trump has achieved the trifecta of crazy: Sarah Palin, Ted Nugent, and now Kanye West. A pity Charlie Manson is dead: he could have visited and argued for lowering the age of consent to six.

This spectacle would have been grotesque and awkward under the best of circumstances, but it occurred almost to the minute that a major hurricane was devastating the Florida panhandle coast, completely leveling one town and inflicting major damage from Florida to North Carolina. Even as the Trump administration was arguing that 4C increase was inevitable, so we all might as well get used to it.

At least this time touring Melania Trump didn’t show up wearing a coat that proclaimed her lack of concern; she was off in Africa, wearing a British RA-style pith helmet, recreating “Call Me Bwimbo”. Oh, wait, that’s Bwana. Second look. No, it’s Bwimbo. The woman has a gift for wearing “Fuck You” as a fashion accessory. After getting some light criticism over that, she flounced off, calling herself the most bullied person in America. Easy solution, babe: file for divorce.

Was it really just 23 months ago that people were saying in hopeful tones that Republicans in Congress could keep Trump in line and blunting his more egregious impulses?

Nah. They saw Trump apparently getting away with the most blatant lies and viciousness, and decided they knew a winning approach when they saw it. Now they’re all lying their heads off. As the election nears, it’s a race to the bottom.

You see campaign ads all over the place swearing up and down that Republicans want to protect Medicare, and that Democrats are goddless commie Muslims who want to allow billions of Mexicans to come in and take over the country. They boast about how Trump saved the economy by maintaining employment and growth trends previously seen over the past six years under Obama, and carefully don’t mention the trillions in new debt for the latest tax giveaways to the rich (including the additional $3 trillion last week that the same Republicans who voted for it last week aren’t mentioning now), or the fact that despite the fact that they are fracking and drilling the living shit out of America and working to turn national parks into oil reserves, the price of gasoline is a dollar fifty above what it was last year.

It got so bad that NY Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote a piece yesterday effectively calling the entire party liars. Such a column would never have seen the light of day a few years ago, but that was before the GOP went mad and abandoned all principle. At least the NY Times belatedly remembered they were a newspaper and what that meant.

Trump had an ‘op-ed’ in the disreputable USA Today that has to be read to be believed. The Washington Post stated that nearly every single sentence included a misstatement or flat-out lie.

In Georgia, the Republican Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, is running for Governor, but as SS he retains the power to purge voter rolls. Which he is doing with a vengeance, some 26,000 names over the past few weeks, over such criteria as whether a middle initial is included on the written name but not in the signature. While African-Americans make up 32% of Georgia’s population (and a somewhat lower proportion of the voting population for obvious reasons) they make up 70% of the voters being purged. Oh, and the SS office isn’t bothering to tell the voters they have been purged. Let it be a surprise on election day. Similar, if less egregious stories abound in other states saddled with Republican rule.

Of course, Trump hates a free press, but isn’t above using the more whorish and lower segments of that press to attack the rest. The National Enquirer has been prostituting itself for him for years now, and Fox News is nothing more than the propaganda arm for the GOP. It’s a shameful thing to see in America, which once was proud of its free and independent press. Now the government has fascist whores pretending to be reporters to spread lies and stifle dissent.

It’s no surprise that news that Saudi Arabia lured a journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, into the Saudi embassy in Istanbul and proceeded to torture, murder and dismember him. It’s widely believed that it was ordered by the vile despot Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who seized power last year with the somewhat clandestine help from the Trump administration (Chief Wastrel Jared Kushner was on hand to oversee the coup and possibly offer friendly advice and hidden funding).

Trump’s reaction to this was muted, partly because he doesn’t mind seeing journalists being killed for doing their job and partly because his business interests are heavily intertwined with bin Salman’s. Even as most of the corporate world pull away from the swinish and vicious Sauds, Trump is going ahead with another arms deal so Saudi Arabia can massacre a few thousand more Yemanis.

Iran is a vile theocracy, but it’s only the third worst in the region, behind Israel and Saudi Arabia. Guess which of the three the US condemns solely?

Kavanaugh, perjurer, liar and partisan ratfucker, has already established a new precedent, becoming the first sitting justice in Supreme Court history to be under active investigation for violation of judicial practices and ethics, based on his sworn Senate testimony. He managed this odiferous distinction on just the second day on the court. It will get worse.

Trump is submitting written answers to Meuller’s investigative team, about his only remaining constitutional recourse. His lawyers knew he can’t go a minute without lying, so spoken testimony under oath would be a legal death trap, and this at least gives the lawyers time to write and finesse the answers, in the hope they can make Trump at least technically not liable for perjury. We’ll know soon enough if these lawyers, not the most brilliant legal team over assembled, can come up with anything that won’t result in immediate indictments.

OK, admit it: after all that, Kanye West sounds pretty sane, doesn’t he?

At least harmless, right? Right?

IPCC – The Scientific World Wants 1.5C: Trump wants 4.0C

October 9th, 2018

Perhaps the most surprising thing is how hopeful report is, with the incredibly wordy title of GLOBAL WARMING OF 1.5 °C: an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.

It all sounds, at worst, survivable. Some samples from the summary are to be found as follows:

B2.1.Model-based projections of global mean sea level rise (relative to 1986-2005) suggest an indicative range of 0.26 to 0.77 m by 2100 for 1.5°C global warming, 0.1 m (0.04-0.16 m) less than for a global warming of 2°C (medium confidence). A reduction of 0.1 m in global sea level rise implies that up to 10 million fewer people would be exposed to related risks, based on population in the year 2010 and assuming no adaptation (medium confidence).

B2.2.Sea level rise will continue beyond 2100 even if global warming is limited to 1.5°C in the 21st century (highconfidence). Marine ice sheet instability in Antarctica and/or irreversible loss of the Greenland ice sheet could result in multi-metre rise in sea level over hundreds to thousands of years. These instabilities could be triggered around 1.5°C to 2°C of global warming

B3.3.High-latitude tundra and boreal forests are particularly at risk of climate change-induced degradation and loss, with woody shrubs already encroaching into the tundra (high confidence) and will proceed with further warming. Limiting global warming to 1.5°C rather than 2°C is projected to prevent the thawing over centuries of a permafrost area in the range of1.5 to 2.5 million km2

B4.1. There is high confidence that the probability of a sea-ice-free Arctic Ocean during summer is substantially lower at global warming of 1.5°C when compared to 2°C. With 1.5°C of global warming, one sea ice-free Arctic summer is projected per century. This likelihood is increased to at least one per decade with 2°C global warming.

The list goes on, and it doesn’t discuss some of the direst scenarios for a world in which the temperatures average 1.5C above levels observed between 1850 and 1900. But I’m going to.

Dr Goodwin and Professor Williams advise that cumulative carbon emissions needed to remain below 195-205 PgC (from the start of 2017) to deliver a likely chance of meeting the 1.5°C warming target while a 2°C warming target requires emissions to remain below 395-455 PgC.

(Philip Goodwin, Anna Katavouta, Vassil M. Roussenov, Gavin L. Foster, Eelco J. Rohling, Richard G. Williams. Pathways to 1.5°C and 2°C warming based on observational and geological constraints. Nature Geoscience, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41561-017-0054-8)

Present emissions are around 550 PgC (pettagrams Carbon). We would have to cut those emissions by 20% starting last year to limit warming to 2C, and 60% starting last year to meet a goal of 1.5C.

Not. Going. To. Happen.

We’re already at .87C above preindustrial levels, and of course it varies, sometimes by quite a bit, and in fact in 2015, during a big El Niño event, we already blew past the 1.5C market, hitting 1.58C.

As the chart shows, the most optimistic scenario has us hitting 1.75C before tailing off slowly to 1.5C by the end of the century. If we maintain present emission levels, the chart says we’ll hit 2.0C and just stay there.

The good news is we’re on course to flatten CO2 annual emissions. No matter what the destructive and purblind Trump administration thinks. In fact, they’ve decided we’re already being raped, so we might as well just accept it, with a report the day before the IPCC Special Report stating that a 4C rise was inevitable. The right wing Chicago Tribune reported, “The draft statement, issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), was written to justify President Donald Trump’s decision to freeze federal fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks built after 2020.”

The horrific thing is that Trump could make this happen, in the name of Disaster Capitalism. Your tragedy is their profit.

Four degrees would be utterly catastrophic. At best, millions would die, and since the huge human and economic dislocations would almost certainly trigger global war, the death toll could easily be in the billions.

The IPCC doesn’t discuss knock-on effects of warmer temperatures. In the case of 1.5C, those effects may be somewhat limited, both in terms of ice and permafrost loss and habitat change (perhaps 15% of existing habitat would be subject to major change). At 2.0C they would be much more pronounced, with ice loss driving Arctic temperatures, already 4C above normal, to about 8C above normal. Ice-free summers would become common (IPCC says one per decade, somewhat optimistically.) Melting tundra and muskeg permafrost would release many gigatonnes of CO2, ocean temperatures would change enough to interfere and even stop some of the main current flows, and habitation and bioregional changes would be dramatic and widespread. Tens of millions of people would have to relocate, sparking already inflamed political tensions.

Greenland and Antarctica, already showing melt rates far beyond what anyone expected, would lose their icecaps altogether, in Greenland’s case before the end of the century.

We’re already well behind what is needed to prevent 2.0C, let along 1.5C. Things aren’t as bad as the Trump administration, which in a burst of unequaled cynicism have decided it’s more profitable to just give up now, says, but Trump and his type want it, because authoritarians prefer suppressed populations that are desperate, frightened, and utterly dependent on the authoritarians to save them.

Another thing that’s Not. Going. To. Happen.

If we want to save ourselves, we have to save ourselves. Vote for candidates strong on climate change, and reject the tawdry self-serving cynicism of Trump and his corporate masters. He isn’t going to save you. In fact, he thinks you’re more useful if you’re struggling to survive and begging him for help. And that’s Not. Going. To, Happen, either.

Trump Junior’s War Sour grapes following a sour victory

Donald Trump Junior, vacuous moron, big game killer, child prodigy swindler and defender of the privileged class, rage-tweeted in the wake of the Kavanaugh vote, “Trump supporters – The fight isn’t over. You better believe that Democrats are going to do everything in their power to impeach Kavanaugh from the Supreme Court if they take control of Congress in November…This is war. Time to fight. Vote on Nov 6 to protect the Supreme Court!”

Just imagine how aggrieved and full of empty threats Donny the Lesser would have been had he lost this battle.

He’s right, of course. We won’t forget. Kavanaugh is a perjurer and a liar. He lied repeatedly to the Senate, committing the same crime for which he believed Bill Clinton should be destroyed. He was selected by the criminal Trump precisely because he believes now that no president should be subject to the kinds of legal persecution he inflicted on Bill Clinton. Even a president who is demonstrably a swindler and a tax cheat. One who assaults, rather than diddling consenting adults. One who is staging a coup against his own country. Even one who might be a traitor.

Kavanaugh’s demeanor made it clear that he is nothing more than what Charles Pierce memorably described as “a partisan ratfucker.” He would have been more at home as Rush Limbaugh’s color commentator than as a Supreme Court nominee.

He’s credibly accused of rape and sexual assault. The example he set, and the fact that he and his scumbag president got away with it by smearing and mocking victims, significantly increases the chances that his own daughters will suffer similar fates at the hands of entitled frat boys in the future. If they complain, perhaps Kavanaugh can asked Trump to mock them, so he needn’t suffer political embarrassment.

We will impeach Kavanaugh, and we will drive him from the Court and back under his rock where he belongs.

Then we will come for the moral and ethical abdicates, the criminals and fascists, and the traitors of the GOP. We will drive them from office.

People like Trump and Kavanaugh don’t see themselves as traitors. They don’t see themselves as liars and cheats. They believe they deserve to take what is theirs. Any woman. Any money. Any country. All of us. We aren’t citizenry to them; we are chattel.

Susan Collins only needed a sham FBI investigation to don a g-string and pasties and do a little shimmy for Trump and Kavanaugh. She knows a woman’s place. As long as she’s rich, what value is dignity? Her only remaining role is to demonstrate that when you sell out your own, you can never reclaim the mantle of being their champion.

The Eleven swine on the Senate Judiciary Committee who made such a joke of the Senate and the Supreme Court in their lust for power will never win another election. We will drive them out.

You know what kind of life you can expect if these fascists prevail. Ask the thousands of customers, investors and contractors that Trump has swindled. Ask the women he has raped and mocked.

Watch the tears stream down Kavanaugh’s flabby cheeks as the toy he was promised is held at arm’s reach. How can we take away that which he deserves?

Once he has it, he will give us exactly what he thinks he deserves. His won’t be the sullen rage of the post-turtle Thomas who never was able to convince himself he was anything more than a GOP token, the result of a cynical belief that the great Thurgood Marshall could be adequately replaced by a House Negro.

No, Kavanaugh’s will be an open rage, an aristocrat frightened by an aroused citizenry. Rush and Tucker and Donald will assure him, over and over, that he is the victim, and his persecutors must pay. He is damaged goods, and will inflict damaged decisions.

Kavanaugh is on the Court, and all it cost was the legitimacy of the Court and the Senate. A small price to pay when you think the country shouldn’t have that sort of nonsense when there is money to be stolen and women to be raped.

Yes, Donald the Lesser, you will get the war you so desire. If you are very lucky, you and your wastrel family will merely end up in jail for many years, and the country will emerge intact. That is the deepest wish of all who oppose you and your brotherhood of gangsters.

But don’t count on that desire for a peaceful solution. You’re merely fighting for an imagined right to shoot large animals. The rest of us are fighting for the right to a decent life, something you hold in contempt.

You will not win this war you want.


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