Business as Usual: Lockdown Unenforced

Protestors in Texas

As experts have warned and a rogue president, prioritizing reelection, has ignored, recharging the economy when Covid-19 continues to ravage has exacted a surge in the pandemic’s victims, with a new wave anticipated this fall.

But Americans are its lead cause, a spoiled populace ignoring the laws governing exit from the crisis, wearing a mask in public, practicing social distancing, limiting unnecessary activity. Fifty states, each with its own governance, unequal to enforcing these mandates of public safety, subservient to economic interests, fuel our crisis. Shamefully, we lead the world in the pandemic’s victims.

Meanwhile, climate change exacts its continuing world toll. We tied the record in May for the highest monthly average on record; investment in renewable energy has plummeted; in the next five years, five-hundred species will disappear as humanity continues its assault on Nature, despoiling fauna and flora in a greedy rush for profit. Worse is the meat industry, a virus hotspot, progenitor of the pandemic, not just now, but historically in its previously related strains.

As I write, the Amazon forest continues to burn to make room for cattle ranches, environmentalists have been killed or discredited, indigenous tribes decimated. In Croatia, yesterday, 50 million bees died, suspected victims of pesticides. You think it only happens abroad? It’s happening here. Last year in Texas, someone deliberately set fire to beehives, killing 500,000 bees. Almonds, a prime contributor to California’s agricultural sector, may soon devolve into memory.

Where do we go from here? For the sake of the present we are ravaging our children’s future. I think anew of poet Robinson Jeffers’ credo of “inhumanism,” a summons to abandon a plethora of mass murder and commodification, to simplify our lives, to embrace with stoic discipline those values that both uplift and secure our children’s destiny.

—rjoly

NFL Hypocrisy

The media has been all over this story of Sunday’s NFL response to Trump’s
provocative tweet that NFL team owners should fire players who don’t stand proud when the national anthem is played: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. He’s fired.”

Even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell got in his licks at Trump, responding that “The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture.”

All fine and good, but the NFL’s last minute conversion to players’ right to freedom of speech reeks with blatant hypocrisy. In July 2016, six Dallas police officers were killed in a sniper ambush. As a symbol of community support for police officers, the Dallas Cowboys asked permission from the NFL to wear a helmet “Arm in Arm” decal. The NFL refused. Where was the “unity” then?

Meanwhile, NFL teams continue to discriminate against free agent Colin Kaepernick, who started the take-a-knee protests during the anthem. Quarterbacks have been subsequently signed without ever having thrown a football in an NFL game.

Now’s the time for NFL teams to walk the talk and return this former Super Bowl quarterback with a 90.3 rating to the playing field. Sooner of later, some team’s going to suffer an injured quarterback. Voila!

–rj

Perhaps Someday We Will Learn How to Live

Every morning I awaken to a country bristling with hate, intolerance, and violence. 

Trump bullied his way to the presidency, exploiting public anxieties, e. g., steel belt resentment of jobs sent abroad, latent fears of a changing demographic replacing White homogeneity, evangelical rancor against abortion, and Islamaphobia, which sees every Muslim as a potential terrorist.

Trump pledged he’d limit Muslim immigration and reduce refugee numbers.   Shortly into his tenure, he attempted a 90-day immigration ban on seven Muslim nations, fortunately curtailed by the courts, though the recent SCOTUS decision suggests he may now have the upper hand.

One of his gallery of appointed rogues includes top advisor Stephen Bannon, known for his misogynist views on women and feminism that plague our nation.

Early on, Trump appointed the now disgraced retired general Mike Flynn as national security advisor, who’d previously depicted Islam as a “malignant cancer.”

Since his election, hate crimes have risen sharply.   Think Progress has mapped their occurrence from the election through February, 2017, recording 261 hate crimes, 41% of which have been linked to Trump’s rhetoric.

But I want to be fair. Much as I dislike Trump, hate in our country has many sources and targets.

Violence comes from the Left as well as the Right. 13% of the 261 incidents included attacks on Trump supporters.

Now comes the June 14 shooting of four Republican congressmen, one of them critically, while practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity in Alexandria, VA by a disgruntled Bernie supporter.

There’s also Black violence, targeting Whites, often police, the abused becoming the abuser, the most notorious being the Dallas sniper ambush of twelve policemen, five of them killed (June 8, 2016).

Even liberals can become intolerant, as one of my favorites, simply because he’s so even-handed, Fareed Zakaria, reminds us: “American universities these days seem to be committed to every kind of diversity except intellectual diversity. Conservative voices and views, already a besieged minority, are being silenced entirely….Freedom of speech is not just for warm, fuzzy ideas that we find comfortable. It’s for ideas that we find offensive.”

Alarmingly, the number of hate groups in The USA has proliferated, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, increasing from 892 in 2015 to 917 last year. This number doesn’t track, however, widespread cyperspace hate raconteurs, whose venom sometimes seeps into social violence such as Dylan Roof’s heinous murder of nine Black church members:

ACTIVE HATE GROUPS 2016

KU KLUX KLAN ……………….130                  

NEO-NAZI…………… ………… 99

WHITE NATIONALISTS……..100

RACIST SKINHEAD. …………..79             

CHRISTIAN IDENTITY……… ..21

NEO-CONFEDERATE…………..43

BLACK SEPARATIST…………..193

ANTI-LGBT……………………….52

ANTI-MUSLIM………………….101

GENERAL HATE………………..101

Total:   917 Active Hate Groups (“The Year in Hate and Extremism,” Intelligence Report, SPLC, Spring 2017, Issue 162.)

Top five states for hate groups?   This may surprise you!

1.  California……….79
2.  Florida…………..63
3.  Texas…………….55
4.  New York……….47
5.  Pennsylvania…..40

It’s not any better abroad.  Britain’s decision to exit the European Community, which requires open borders of its members, parallels the upset victory of Donald Trump, many of the pro-exit voters older, working class Whites. France has its Le Pen; the Netherlands, its Geert Wilder; Germany its AFD (Alternative for Germany).

All of this comes down to the age old problem of the Other. Unfortunately, for all our supposed sophistication in today’s world of technological prowess, we’re still engulfed in the tribalism of our ancient progenitors, hostile to the outsider. And it’s not likely to get better, given the increasing anachronism of national borders that same technology makes possible.

Still, I am not without hope that the good side of humanity will ultimately prevail.  Or as   gifted Palestinian-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye puts it,

My father’s hopes travel with me
years after he died.  Someday
we will learn how to live. All of us
surviving without violence
never stop dreaming how to cure it.

–rj

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You have every right to be afraid!

cropsprayingMany of us rightfully fear a Trump presidency for what it may mean for the welfare of our citizenry and nation.

Will Affordable Health Care (AHC) and Medicare be on the chopping block?

If you’re an undocumented immigrant, will Trump carry out his often repeated pledge to deport illegals and build a wall on the border with Mexico?

Will he foreclose on refugees, many of them Muslims?

On the the world stage, will he roll back Obama’s executive order that has restored relations with Cuba?

Will he undo the nuclear treaty with Iran?

While all of these concerns are legitimate, I’d argue that they pale up against the incipient threat posed by climate change, an issue virtually missing from the presidential debates, despite the earth’s very survival being at stake.

Alarmingly, in his October 100-day preview, Trump, who has repeatedly declared global warming a hoax, pledged he’d repeal the Clean Power Plan, withdraw from the historic Paris agreement (signed by 120 nations, setting targets for carbon), and lift restrictions on oil and gas development on public lands.

He’s also told us he’ll revive Keystone XL.

In recent days, the press has been focused on his potential choice for the important Secretary of State position. Nobody’s talking, however, about whom he’ll appoint as Secretary of the Interior.

At the moment, the scenario for environmental disaster looms large in Trump’s choice of Myron Ebell to oversee the transition of the Environmental Protection Agency, ironically founded by Richard Nixon. Ebell doesn’t believe in climate change either.

He’s also associated with the Competitive Enterprise Institute (http://SafeChemicalPolicy.org), which underplays the environmental and health consequences of industrial chemicals.

Ebell could also be Trump’s choice to head the EPA. For the record, Ebell opposes government efforts to curb global warming and the Paris Agreement.

As I write, it isn’t far-fetched that Trump might give the nod to Forrest Lucas for Secretary of the Interior. Lukas has contributed mega-bucks to Trump and Pence’s campaigns. An oil executive, he’d be in charge of our national parks and public lands. Native Americans–think North Dakota pipeline–might raise their eyebrows, given that one of the Department’s tasks is to monitor programs relating to Native Americans.

We haven’t heard yet on who’ll fill the Department of Energy either, but if Ebell doesn’t get the EPA or Interior nomination, he’d likely fill this vacancy. This, again, is a pivotal cabinet post, affecting environment in the Department’s mission to research, regulate, and develop energy technology and resources.

In the meantime, climate change isn’t when, but now. Lamentably, we learned just last week that due to the summer melting of Arctic ice, warm waters have swept over the South Pacific, killing coral, and substantially damaging the famed Great Barrier Reef off Australia’s coast.

We ‘re getting more droughts and flooding than the norm..

2016 will go down as our hottest year since we began keeping track of temperatures.

Scientists tell us we’re on pace, despite December’s Paris agreement, for an increase in earth’s average temperature of 3.5 Celsius, if not more, by 2100.

What this means to our children is that coastal cities like NewYork, Míami, and New Orleans will be mere abstracts of memory, or like the Atlantis of ancient myth, lost beneath the sea.

–rj

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