It’s my birthday today. I took the day off of work, and I also took a day off from closely monitoring the news, setting out for a hike. It was a wonderful and refreshing hike, up Fireweed Mountain just down the road from my cabin. The weather is beautiful, the sun is shining on us in this magnificent valley, making it feel like a cathedral, surrounded as it is by grand mountains, roaring rivers, and a massive glacial field. But the news cycle caught up with me, and I write this with tears running down my face. It may feel like a cathedral here but there is no sanctuary, no place of escape from the violent karma that is currently raging in our streets. But for many Americans there has never been an escape from police violence.
It’s a perfect storm: our institutions are failing; voters are disenfranchised; our government is dysfunctional; our political system is purely partisan; our economy is working exclusively for the already-powerful; the U.S. healthcare system is a disaster designed by and functioning on behalf of the 1%; and most of our citizens access news and information from bubbles of confirmation bias, many of whom do so with a good deal of malice, frustration, and anger…..Still, of course, one hopes that perhaps the summer heat will prevent another spike in outbreaks and deaths, this despite the fact that the numbers have been climbing, even during the “grand re-opening of America”…..I have my figurative fingers crossed….
My writing has been going pretty well so I had to drag myself away for a nice hike. I was helped in this by Paul, a photographer friend of mine, who is working on a photo book of abandoned places like the mines in this area.
“We may have suspected it already, but now the science backs it up: unmarried and childless women are the happiest subgroup in the population. And they are more likely to live longer than their married and child-rearing peers, according to a leading expert in happiness….the latest evidence showed that the traditional markers used to measure success did not correlate with happiness – particularly marriage and raising children.” https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/may/25/women-happier-without-children-or-a-spouse-happiness-expert
Having just finished watching Lost in it’s entirety — for the first and last time — this last fall, this particular analogy is uncanny.
Glenn Beck to Sean Hannity: “We are officially at the end of the country as we know it” if Trump loses in 2020. I sure as hell hope so, but I have my doubts. We’ve heard this kind of thing before. Those on the political right tend to use this kind of hyperbole to generate hysteria and rally the troops to get them out to vote. (This is especially when the Republican rank and file is being asked to vote for an an unsavory and unpopular like Trump.) But liberals do it too: recall that Obama was supposed to bring hope and change yet 8 years later we were in short supply on both counts. Nonetheless I remain hopeful. Hope, after all, is a choice.
It seems a bit… what’s the word?…Cheeky. It seems a bit cheeky to put anti-Facebook ads up on Facebook, but that’s precisely what Elizabeth Warren did. Predictably, Facebook took the ads down. In the ads Warren called for the break-up of tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook, all of which Warren is calling out. I really respect what Warren has been doing in the early phases of the 2020 campaign. She’s come out swinging, challenging the domination of corporations with an intense and uncompromising sense of urgency, which is precisely what we needed if we hope to even make a dent in the corruption that both parties have made normative in America. Here’s more from the article:
One of Trump’s recent childish/whiny Tweets inspired a barrage of puns, so for those of you who appreciate a good pun, here were a few responses:
Per Fox News, President Trump dramatically vowed during his State of the Union address on Tuesday that “America will never be a socialist country,” in an apparent rebuke to self-described Democratic socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders that drew loud cheers and a standing ovation from Republicans in the House chamber — as well as supportive applause from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Ocasio-Cortez had the perfect zinger of a response, as usual: “I thought it was great. I think he’s scared.” I think it’s great too. I was pretty stoked when I heard that Trump bashed socialism, with the eyes of the nation upon him. Having our tempestuous Tweeter in Chief condemn socialism in the State of the Union Address is the kind of exposure you just can’t buy, which is something that a promotional genius like Trump should be able to appreciate, which of course begs the question: Is Trump, himself, a Socialist? Is he using his plummeting popularity to drive people to socialism?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. To me AOC seems like a breath of fresh air. Of course it might just be my own thing, because I’m still somewhat stunned at the fact that democratic socialists are actually in mainstream politics now. That’s just seems incredibly surreal, despite the fact that it’s at least a half century overdue.
Bhaskar Sunkara is the founding editor of one of my favorite publications, the brilliant Jacobin Magazine, a take on socialism and democracy that is at the same time intellectually rigorous yet funny and unpretentious. He had a great little piece on MLK that appeared in the Guardian. Her opens with a provocative bit of political history: In 1983, 15 years after King’s death, 22 senators voted against an official holiday honoring him on the third Monday in January. The North Carolina senator Jesse Helms undertook a 16-day filibuster of the bill, claiming that King’s “action-oriented Marxism” was “not compatible with the concepts of this country”. He was joined in his opposition by Senators John McCain, Orrin Hatch, and Chuck Grassley, among others. Sunkara thinks that they weren’t wrong, back in 1983, to still view MLK’s true principles as a threat to the power and privilege, a hierarchy that these politicians were working to protect.
I was listening to the evening news tonight, on my commute home from work and heard the recap of Trump’s visit to the border, as part of his attempt to manufacture a border crises so as to 1) deflect attention from the mounting evidence that Trump knowingly worked with the Russians to win the 2016 election and 2) legitimate Trump’s use of “emergency powers.” (I don’t expect that the government shutdown will end anytime soon because the main purpose is to deflect attention from Trump’s dirty deeds in 2016.) They played a sound byte from Trump. He sounded a little shrill, but that only helps to ramp up the hysteria, and Trump needs hysteria. The so-called “news media” is all using the same term, Trump said, calling it a “manufactured crisis.” But it’s not a manufactured crisis, Trump said, rather the news media is manufacturing the term “manufactured crisis.” Perhaps in response, critics of Trump would say that he’s manufacturing the idea of manufacturing a “manufactured crisis.” This, ladies and gentlemen, is your Postmodern President. …
I spent a pleasant New Year’s Day in my pajamas, binge-watching the first season of Westworld with one of my friends. Westworld is a beautiful show; it’s visually elegant, the pacing is deliberate but builds on itself, and the writing is fantastic, there’s nothing wasted. I’ve heard, in fact, that they interrupted the whole production process, putting the show on hold, all so that the writers could fine tune the show. It certainly paid off. It hooked me in, and I stopped only to satisfy the most basic of biological needs. It all made for a hellagood New Year’s Day.
In the States we are used to thinking of environmentalism as bring a “liberal” or “left-wing” issue. This isn’t true in other developed nations. Elsewhere, especially in Europe, the right-wing parties have ecological platforms, or at least have a sizable number of constituents who give a shit about environmental programs and ecological initiatives. It makes sense. If you really care about your country, you will want to make it a paradise, and the last thing you would want to do would be to pave paradise just to put up some parking lots. The right-wing in the U.S. has never really been very consistent or intellectually competent. They have been driven, in recent decades, primarily by rage against any and all things liberal or Clinton, but one of my biggest fears since Trump resurrected nationalism under the #MAGA tag has always been that the manic MAGA movement would take a page from other right-wing movements around the world and actually become somewhat intellectually consistent, paying attention to winning political issues, like giving a damn about the …
Damn these lazy, self-entitled Millennials….Also, Colin O’Brady finished his 932 mile crossing of Antarctica ahead of schedule after he got into a “flow” and did a 32 hour ultramarathon to finish off the last 80 miles. http://www.businessinsider.com/colin-obrady-first-to-cross-antarctica-alone-unaided-2018-12