July 19, 2012

How to feel good about any result in November


As Matt Taiibi has written, the Presidential campaign of 2012 is likely to be the most boring electoral race in the history of the American Republic.  I don't know what Millard Fillmore sounded like on the campaign trail, or James Buchanan or some of these other hacks, but I'm fairly confident that Barack Obama versus Mitt Romney will be a grueling, mind-deranging thing to watch after they get into high gear, if that is not a contradiction in terms.  We are getting close to that Event Horizon (sorry to use this metaphor two posts in a row, but I think it fits again) where all loyal Democrats are reminded that maybe President Obama's entire presidency is veiled in complete secrecy, maybe he makes war on whistleblowers to an extent never before seen in American politics, maybe he starts wars in foreign countries with no Congressional authorization whatsoever, maybe he has institutionalized a program of whacking American citizens with no due process of any kind, maybe the President of the ACLU says that Obama's presidency is "worse than George Bush" in terms of civil liberties abuses, but dammit - think how bad Mitt Romney will be for the Middle Class!

And yes, President Obama is on the payroll of the same Wall Street financial institutions as his opponent, but gosh, what's a President to do if he betrayed every promise for "Hope & Change" he made to the American people in 2008 and now has no choice but to go hat in hand to the fat cats he used to deride (but no more, you'll notice)?  Without money, there is no way to buy all the media time necessary to fill the airwaves with the half-truths, propaganda and slogans essential to the manipulation of the half of the voting-age populace who will actually show up to vote in November.

Still, Barack is our guy.  More important, he's Our Brand.  Although I'm voting for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate.  Am I wasting my vote?  Well, of course, in one way of looking at it.  She isn't going to win, not by a long shot.  She'll barely register on the tally, on election night I doubt you'll ever hear her name.  My general feeling is that either President Obama or President Romney will be driving the American Bus in the same direction it's been going for quite some time over the last couple of decades (longer, really, but never mind), and that route is the HOV lane on the Highway to Hell.

And that's okay in my book, because there are more important issues that Planet Earth faces than the tiny comparative economic advantage offered by either of these Empty Suits.  I would encourage you to watch the short lecture by David Roberts embedded in this blog.  I've read his stuff for years on the HuffPost, and I found this video on the Skeptical Science blogsite, which deals with global warming and more specifically with the constant bad faith attacks on the scientific consensus concerning global warming which originate, almost without exception, with American legacy industries with a vested interest in finishing the planet off.

If you take the thesis advanced by Mr. Roberts (and by many, many others who are conversant with the frightening magnitude of the problem) at its face value, then you must admit that, if the world only has about 5 or 10 years to move decisively on global warming or face irreversible consequences, then whatever means are necessary to bring about these changes are the only way to go at this point.  This is simply logical.  The truth, as General Buck Turgidson told us in "Dr. Strangelove," is not always a pleasant thing.

Now the upside of America's slide toward economic collapse is that the world's largest economy, that of the country which is probably the most intransigent and obstructionist on the issue of global warming (shamefully so, because we really have no excuse), is that we have, for example, dramatically reduced our use of petroleum and gasoline over the last 5 years.  Not because we're virtuous and concerned, of course, but because we're broke.  I am confident that either of the two schlemiels running for President can guarantee that nothing will be done to slow this descent toward collapse.  They are the two avatars of the completely sclerotic political system which has ruled this country for decades, a corrupt, non-adapting, thrashing-in-the-tar-pits brontosaurus of a nation. So to speak, at least environmentally.  I mean, how much time do you ever hear Barack Obama or Mitt Romney spend speaking along the lines covered in the Roberts lecture? Exactly.  So if neither spends any time discussing this existential issue, then what is the relevance of either of their candidacies?

Jill Stein does talk about such things, in the tenor and with the sense of urgency appropriate to the magnitude of the threat.  She'll lose, but it's not a "wasted vote.  Wasting your vote is voting for a candidate who pays no attention whatsoever to the mounting environmental catastrophes threatening human survival, instead devoting his time to absurd discussions of "tax policy," and "terrorist threats" and whatever the hell else they waste their time on.

As a concrete example, here's how this Administration deals with the Midwest drought and the devastation of the corn and soy crops: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack prays for rain. It might have been an opportunity to talk about the increased likelihood of extreme weather events that come with climate change.  It might have been an opportunity to wonder aloud whether it's a good idea to devote 40% of the (inedible) corn crop to ethanol production, a process that has a negative energy return on energy invested (EROEI), but continues because of Congressional corruption.  It might have been a time to raise the issue that the failure of a corn crop should have no effect on beef prices, because cows are ungulates which naturally eat grass, and left to their own devices do not graze in corn fields. Which is why they have to be loaded up on antibiotics in feed lots where they eat a nonstop diet of corn.

Jill Stein favors a return to sustainable agriculture and food production.  Thus, I leave others to vote for Coke or Pepsi, confident that November will be a win/win no matter what happens.

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