We the people are merely ‘playthings for the gods’ on that tarnished Mount Olympus in Washington, DC. One day we are offered a relief payment of $600, that is then yanked away as too extravagant. When a deal is finally negotiated between the Democrats and the Republicans the one-time $600 payment is back on the table. It is not enough. It is not nearly enough for some of the people, but Republicans only give money to those who are wealthy. They are still trying to sell us ‘trickle down’ economics. With a few billionaires and millionaires holding more money than 90% of Americans, it is obvious to all that nothing is trickling down at all.
Over the weekend after Christmas, Trump, from the golf course, refused to sign the relief bill. Now he castigates his troops in Washington for being stingy. Trump has not been a president who spreads economic bounty to the masses. The story in the media is that his golf partner, Lindsey Graham, talked him into asking for one-time payments of $2000. Did Graham have any altruistic motives for his largesse? I doubt it. Graham wants to keep the Senate with a Republican majority. He wants McConnell to remain as majority leader. In order to make this happen those two crooks (inside traders) in Georgia must win on January 5th. Most likely Graham thinks that a bit of empathy on the part of Trump and the Republicans will help David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler (two very wealthy people) win the race. And, in fact, these two are already backing the $2000 one time relief payments.
The $2000 payments have already passed the House and are awaiting a vote in the Senate. Mitch McConnell may allow this to pass to save his majority but he will hate it. Can voters in Georgia be bought? Will they love McConnell and the stock market king and queen? Please don’t be fooled into thinking that Republican generosity will continue. This is still the Party that will not offer relief to red states because they would also have to offer relief to blue states. Trump hates Andrew Cuomo in particular.
Perdue and Loeffler are already trying to buy voters in Georgia with this Trump money and it hasn’t even been passed by the Senate. They are telegraphing to McConnell that if he approves the money he will help them win the run-off election and he will get to stay in power. I can’t think of anything that would be worse for we the people. Contribute to the campaigns of Warnock and Ossoff if you can. If you get your $2000 then use it for whatever you need it for. It is not very generous at all. Some nations have given citizens $2000 per month. $600 is an insult but it may be all that is offered. Don’t let them convince you that you need to vote Republican or back Republicans to get the higher payment. They are just ‘playing you’ for political gain.
They must think we the people don’t have any feelings. They must think our spirits don’t rise when we hear that we might get $2000 rather than $600. My friend told me she couldn’t sleep because she was deciding how she would use that check. Now we are back to the $600 dollar figure again and how do you think that affects the American people? We are not real to these people. We are simply pawns in a political game they are playing. Enjoy your check if you ever get it; don’t play their sick games.
The coronavirus did not kill millions (yet), but it has ravaged the world’s economy and left us trying to decide if there will ever again be normal, or even a new normal. We have all lost our footing it seems, at least for a while.
And 300,000 plus deaths in America is quite enough to make a nation grieve and there will still be more people who have to die. This is even less tolerable with a vaccine that cannot be delivered in time to save them.
Knowing how our government has abdicated responsibility for fighting the virus properly by ignoring scientists, by ordering workers to work sick, thus increasing the spread and prolonging the reign of the pandemic, is sobering. Better policy would have been to tamp down the virus first, get back to some semblance of normal second.
Watching Congress make its stingy way to deciding that the American people deserve to receive financial relief from their own government and then offering up too little, too late to actually come to the rescue of Americans in these almost unprecedented times has been disheartening. In this blighted Christmas season generosity would have lifted spirits already laid low by being forced to choose between feeding loved ones or paying rents; seeing loved ones with all the accompanying guilt, or missing loved ones to obey health guidelines; and, along the way, finding ultimate proof that Trump broke the Post Office.
Republicans in Congress, and Trump, left the states saddled with managing a national emergency, even competing with each other for scarce resources, and then they refused to bail out the states because some state leaders did not whip Americans to lie to themselves about the seriousness of the virus, and make them go to work and school as ordered. States did try to comply with heartless and unhelpful orders, but many states did so while trying to keep their constituents safe. ‘Those bleeding hearts,’ said the GOP derisively.
So death, depression, grief, poverty stalk the land while rich pols get the first vaccine shots, ostensibly to prove how safe they are, but mainly because they can.
Of course there has been concern, caring, generosity, innovation, support and hope, but very little of it came from the top down. All good flowed from the bottom up. We have certainly seen the folly of becoming a loose collection of autonomous states with an almost authoritarian strength, anything but benign, central government. What a travesty this has all been, a very devastating one at that, all because the wrong man was in the White House and his henchmen and women were in Congress and the judiciary (he thought).
There is an American spirit that can be called upon to defeat enemies, even tiny ones. Our leaders could not inspire that spirit because they are broken people who cannot comprehend the power of unity. They can only divide us and our divisions make our griefs even harder to bear. We cannot take pride in Americans who refused to do the necessary; who in the name of liberty trampled all over the best practices of liberty.
Americans were just beginning their ‘mea culpas,’ to come down from the heights of our hubris. Can a nation that has fallen so low rise from the ashes? We elected a new ticket of leaders which might give us a chance. However, we didn’t back them up with a Congress to speed them on their way.
Ironic that our greatest humiliation came from a man who said ‘America First’. What he should have said is ‘Americans First.’
Where will we be when this pandemic is cut down to a size we can live with? That depends entirely on ‘we the people’ and the prognosis is not good.
I get sad when I think about America as we enter the religious holidays in 2020. I feel worried about our blighted, divided, well-loved, occasionally despised, and currently chaotic nation. Are we having a mid-life crisis, or will we turn into something other than what we have been for the last 244 years? This is not the first time America has been faced with a killer pandemic. Many of our parents or grandparents were alive in the 1918 flu that afflicted the country. Many were alive during the Great Depression, which must have seemed like the end of the world. It was followed by World War II.
For most of boomers lives it seemed as if we would not be faced with the disasters our parents lived through. Not that we didn’t have strife and separation. I doubt there is any nation that ever existed where all the citizens lived in communal bliss and absolute agreement. We are contentious beings who may never escape being of two minds about everything under the sun. We lived through the Vietnam War, which tore the nation in two, and female contraception, also fiercely discordant. Roe v Wade has created a vehement religious divide that may never heal because if the church wins, women will lose a right that offers them a freedom that no other right offers – freedom to choose, freedom to leave an abusive marriage or relationship, freedom to choose when and how many children they will have.
Compared to what our parents went through these things seemed less traumatic, of shorter duration. When the war ended and the Civil Rights bills including the Voting Rights bill was passed, boomers turned their energies to working and raising families, dealing with AIDS and trying to grope for answers to why we were shrinking away from gay rights and gender issues. However compared to the scope of the Great Depression and two World Wars our problems seemed minor.
America has been divided since our founders tried to patch together an industrial north and an agricultural south that depended on slave labor. Only a desire to be free of the British king, to be a sovereign nation rather than a colony kept everyone together. This division remained until it caused America to fight a Civil War. This division intensified after the war through resentment and aversion to change.
The southern way of life, outrageous as it seems to the modern world was already dying, however, it seems that losing it so abruptly in a bitter war apparently was intolerable. The animosity continues to this day. Last night in Washington, DC, American citizens, already in denial about this deadly coronavirus pandemic, also denied that the current President lost his reelection bid. They insist that he should be returned to office despite losing in a free and fair election. They even deny, against all evidence, that the 2020 election was a free and fair election. Four people were stabbed in Washington, DC last night and one person was shot. Will this take the pressure off the steam valve of dissent, or is this just the beginning.
This week Bill Gates posed a thought exercise on ‘Linkedin’ and on his website ‘Gates Notes’. He asked people to speculate about how they would spend $20 million dollars so that it would have the greatest effect on reversing climate change. It may seem like I am changing the topic but, if we are talking about modern dilemmas, and issues that divide us, that might have the greatest chance of changing life as we know it, no other issue is as important or as divisive as the matter of what we should do about climate change. These divisions are not only part of the fabric of America; they are part of the global fabric at this moment in time. Is mankind a sort of parasitic race that will kill the planet on which it depends for its existence? How many species have had to move aside as humans changed from a nomadic species to a settled species with farms and cities?
We are ostensibly fighting about the future makeup of the America nation, politically, religiously, racially, in terms of gender, in morality, all the ways some have defined our nation in the past, and whether America will atrophy and die in order to remain “pure,” however phony that definition of pure might be; or whether America will become its authentic self, will survive and change; accept a new version of itself. It will not be a totally new vision. We always took a certain amount of unwarranted pride in being a ‘melting pot.” Since 9/11 we have been reconsidering and pulling back. We have been closing our doors and those ‘purists’ have been having their day. We want the world’s money, just not the world’s people. We imagine that America will be problem-free if we shut out the rest of the world.
However, in a way climate change may be at the bottom of almost all of our grievous and disordered contemporary state. Switching energy sources is hard, it’s disruptive, it’s economically scary. There is really no way to prove to everyone’s satisfaction that carbon is our biggest problem until it is too late to change, too late to prevent the deluge. What if this pandemic is just a rehearsal for what the planet is in for if we don’t mend our ways? What if this will herald decades of grief and turmoil? How do we get billionaires and millionaires to stop raking in fossil fuel profits and end the race to stockpile the most money on the planet? Is all the anger and fear, the political bubbles, and fringe conspiracies all part of a syndrome that tells us in our guts that life as we are living it is unsustainable?
What if we are able to put all our negative energies and our big brains towards cooperation in achieving the unimaginable? Wouldn’t we be proud if we learned how to live more lightly on the planet and remove the threats of climate changes so consequential that our lives will turn to misery and eventually extinction? We are so lucky. We have managed to bring every nation into the twenty-first century, for good or ill. We still are surrounded by so much natural beauty. We have become, for the most part, a well-educated nation; a well-educated world. We know every corner of our world and have now begun to stretch out to the planets. All we have to do is quit our carbon addiction. All we have to do is clean up our oceans. All we have to do is find new ways to farm and preserve whatever wilderness is left. All we have to do is stop fighting each other, face the future, and create it anew. Whenever Americans are inspired by a common goal, we become one, and we are unbeatable. We owe it to our children. However, some of you will have to give up Trump. Look where he has brought us. We have been brought very low. Do it. Kick the Donald habit and reimagine the way we live. It will be amazing.
While Bill Gates often talks about climate change the thought experiment mentioned in this article was offered by Azeem Azhar whose podcasts are called Exponential View. I conflated two articles that I read on the same day. Sorry Mr. Azhar.
I’m angry at the Republicans for their concerted campaign to destroy what they feel is the America that liberals made, and replace it with America as they feel it should be, as they believe our forefathers imagined it. If it feels like they are tearing down our legacy of laws and traditions that is because they are. Who could they get that was more suited than Trump to the task of deconstructing America? Republicans are calling their reset ‘originalism,’ ‘federalism’ – names that conjure images of our revolutionary roots and which sound patriotic. ‘Originalism’ is impossible to channel, so, unless you have a time machine, what we have is someone’s interpretation of originalism, most likely originalism as defined by the Federalist Society. George Washington was a Federalist. He fought for a strong central government. The modern Federalist Society says that States Rights have been given to the Federal government and should be returned to the states. They have a Libertarian guarding their views. Libertarians do not favor strong central government. They basically favor a very small central government, the smaller the better.
Republicans have done their homework and that is why we find ourselves subject to their will regardless of who we want to elect. That is why we have a Supreme Court and Federal District Courts stuffed with Conservative judges approved by the Federalist Society. They had help doing their homework. They sat around plenty of meetings with Evangelicals who wanted America to specify that our forefathers expected America to remain a Christian nation, who wanted to teach Creationism in schools, and who wanted Roe v Wade overturned.
Why do we have a crook for a President who gets once-respected government people to say that Presidents have unlimited power? Because Republicans did their homework.
What homework did they do? They created a media propaganda mill, perhaps at first by accident, but later by design, that turned half of Americans into a cult with lockstep opinions, a cult that loves the crook-in-chief, thinks he is one of them, although he clearly isn’t. That is his base of support and it is brainwashed, loyal, and aggressive. Trump didn’t create the right-wing media but he knew how to use it.
Why don’t Republicans care if our entire health care system crashes and burns under the weight of this pandemic? Why do they think that convincing their cult members not to wear masks is owning the libs, when it is really ruining the lives of our health care workers and crashing our hospitals? They want to destroy our healthcare support systems, our Medicaid and Medicare. They want private insurance if you can afford it, and no insurance if you can’t. Have you tried to see your doctor recently? You were probably shifted to telemedicine unless you were seriously ill. Why are Republicans telling their cult that this is no more serious than the flu, and why does their cult believe them? Because they did their homework.
Why is Trump still trying to find a way to overturn the results of the 2020 election? Because Republicans know they are a minority party and they want to hold on to power anyway. Because they not only want America to be a Christian nation, they want white men to control it in perpetuity and on behalf of Capitalism and fossil fuels. They have powerful allies in the Koch web and in the NRA. They did their homework. They all did their homework. They took the pre-clearance section out of the Voting Rights Act and they began suppressing the vote all over America, in small ways, ways that could only be challenged in courts, courts which often upheld the least egregious voter suppression activities because the courts they fought in had Conservative judges.
The Supreme Court turned a case about a movie and Hillary Clinton into Citizen United v The FEC and allowed unlimited unidentified contributions to campaigns and made corporation people. So, given all this groundwork, it was no great matter for Trump to turn voter suppression into fraudulent voting and make a nontruth into something real. He is trying to use all that voter suppression homework to turn absentee and mail-in voting into a brand new form of voter suppression. It is insulting to the America election system which works very well and is very trustworthy, to broadcast that it is a broken system, because it implies that American voters and our Boards of Election cheat. If Americans can be made to doubt our voting apparatus then an election no longer has any reality and the President can easily stay in power through obfuscation. But Trump’s machinations might not have worked if Republicans had not done their homework.
Why are we still stuck in obstruction territory with Mitch McConnell still at the head of the Senate? Well, you know what I am going to say. It is because Republicans did their homework. And Democrats kept saying, ‘no, this is not unique – all of this has happened before in American politics.’ Democrats kept normalizing all of this, perhaps because they did not want to blow up our Republic/Democracy. And Dems could always cite historical examples to prove their point. But, none of this was normal if you put all of the pieces together and saw through each individual action to the overall plan.
Well here we are with a central government run by the GOP ‘fool’ with a love of power for his own sake, and a nation that is sick, desperately ill, exhausted, and demoralized, and a Republican Party that seems to be a powerless pawn of Trump. They do need him. He is the head of the cult, but they also have no reason to reprimand him as the bad boy he is. They did their homework and he was the twisted answer to their twisted equation. The purity tests are endless and noone is allowed to compromise. They still have the Senate, their plan is still on track and that’s why they are callous and unbending, or laughing at liberals like the Joker.
Democrats have not done their homework. Can we catch up on our assignments? Can we save American government, the American economy, the American healthcare system, and the American people against a political party whose plan is to win through deconstruction and disinformation? Is it too late in the game to make America respond to Americans, instead of to a right-wing cabal? The world may not be able to be on pause forever.
If anything happens to keep Joe Biden out of the White House perhaps we can have two governments: the blue government and the red government, with a blue Congress, and a red Congress and taxpayers will pay the government they believe is genuine. Then we can see who gets the best bang for their buck. Remember, at one time Europe had two Popes, one in Avignon and one in Rome. Of course, it was a hot mess.
Here is a link to an article that appeared in The Washington Post on 12/6/2020:
Those numbers are just current hospitalizations as of Dec. 2 but go to the article and look at the cumulative numbers. That’s 85,128 hospital beds full in America. Every bed requires a team of medical professionals, more if the bed is in the ICU.
*Will our doctors, nurses, and staff be “burned out”? There is not a factory turning out more health professionals unless we get really good robots really soon. It takes time to train healthcare professionals. Would you trade in a flesh and blood nurse or doctor for a virtual presence? Perhaps in addition to, but not instead of. Healthcare workers have been amazing but will they suffer PTSD when this is all over? Will they decide to find a less emotionally draining profession, or even just a job?
*What will happen to the back-up of patients who couldn’t get hospital treatments they needed, except in extreme emergencies, or perhaps not even then?
*We may have learned more about what hospitals need in terms of PPE, equipment, and disinfecting. Will we continue to stockpile this stuff once a couple of years have passed?
*Many small hospitals were almost ready to close before they temporarily were restored to hectic life. Won’t these smaller hospitals breathe their last when this pandemic is over?
*This government’s accounts of procedures, preparations, an index of equipment and hospital supplies necessary for future pandemics cannot be very complete or helpful. Who will do that new pandemic instruction manual?
*What kind of bills will patients be left with for things government or private health care refuses to cover? How many bankruptcies will result from hopelessly big medical bills?
*Can we think of any meaningful, tangible ways we could reward healthcare workers to thank them and make it worthwhile to stay in the field? Will we make funds available to workers who need help with their mental health? I’m sure I haven’t thought of everything. Feel free to add your thoughts.
In order to profit from The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson you must get through the first chapter – the catalyst for all that follows. Frank May is the only survivor of an extreme heat wave event that kills 20 million people, an entire village, in India. We don’t even learn his name until much later in the book. There are reasons.
Robinson skips around a lot which helps move this fictional/nonfiction book, full of what could be very dry science, along. India, in reaction to that enormous heat wave tragedy tries to recreate the ashy clouds of the Pinatubo volcanic eruption which blocked the sun for almost two years. The strategy India settles on of creating a layer of a reflective substance (several are under consideration) which would reflect some sunlight back into space thus cooling the earth’s atmosphere temporarily is an actual tactic being considered by climate scientists. The Children of Kali, also in India, decide to go ‘dark’ and use more violent strategies.
In order to make the billionaires listen up and force these greedy souls to give up fossil fuels, massively effective plans will be required. The Ministry of the Future, a UN project headed by Mary Murphy from Zurich, Switzerland, never openly supports violent action. But Mary’s Assistant Chair, Badim, has no such compunctions and he has Mary’s permission to head a ‘dark’ arm of the agency. It is so ‘dark’ that even as the book ends we have no clues about the tactics used by Badim’s group, but you might want to learn about Pebble Mobs.
Mary Murphy’s machinations are not secret at all. Through the Ministry, Robinson’s book offers up one idea after another – the state of the art ideas, the far out ideas and ideas unpalatable to many – that could be used to lower the temperature raised by global warming and for sequestering the carbon dioxide (carbon) that is to blame. A story that is basically a climate textbook is made readable by making it a personal story with characters who interest us, and by flashing around the globe. We might be in India in one short chapter, or in China, or at a committee meeting, or experiencing the kidnapping of Mary Murphy, or in Antarctica, or Russia, or in the Alps, or San Francisco, along the new wildlife corridors, presenting an audacious financial plan to the world’s central banks. It’s a whirlwind for the most part, belying how slow actual change may be, but it’s exciting and it makes the reader believe that we could do this; we could save the planet.
The Ministry for the Future is a fiesta of climate ideas. If it gets a bit Kumbaya near the end, after all our recent coronavirus isolation, some communal esprit might be welcome. Mary Murphy’s mantra is “lose, lose, lose, lose, lose, lose, win.” We might need to stop losing and use some of Robinson’s pirated ideas if we want to have any hope of winning. Every person on the planet should read this book.