High Tide on Main Street – An Intervention

Some would refer to “High Tide on Main Street”  (HT) as a wake-up call, which it is, but it’s also considerably more. While I was reading it, I was reminded of an intervention, where an addict is confronted by family and friends, with the object being that the addict can no longer pretend that his actions hurt only himself, and that his behavior has consequences that affect not only his life, but the lives of others. Our addiction to fossil fuels has consequences for all of us, and that’s what HT is all about.

There is no hyperbole here, no dystopia, just the facts from the world’s leading climate scientists presented in a forthright, well-written manner by an individual possessed of a perfect background to tell the story.

The opening paragraph sets the tone for the entire book:

“When all the ice sheets and glaciers in the world melt, sea level will be approximately 212-feet (64.5 meters) higher than it is today. That paralyzing fact is independent of any confusion about climate change. It has happened before and will happen again.” Continue reading

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Obama Takes a Dive?

Judging by some of the comments that followed my last blog post, Obamapoligists are kind of touchy when someone messes with their worldview. I doubt if this one will receive any better a reception among Obama supporters, although it does suggest a credible reason for their man’s miserable performance during the first debate.

I think the generalization can be made that many of our elected officials and most of our Presidents have not been…well…very bright. There are, of course, some notable exceptions: Kennedy comes to mind, the prescient Jimmy Carter, and Clinton, although the latter sold-out to the banking interests, and became the catalyst, if not the cause of the 2008 meltdown. For the most part, we tend to vote for the candidate most like ourselves, at least the one who most reflects our values and worldviews. The results get interesting in a country where large numbers of the electorate are conditioned, almost from birth, to be wary of anyone who appears to be more intelligent, or better educated than themselves.

When Obama came along, I was struck by his calm self-assurance, and quiet self-confidence. I was somewhat reminded of Kennedy, but Obama never had Kennedy’s warmth and personal charm, he appeared somewhat aloof, as though he was above the struggles the rest of us are engaged in. There was a marked contrast between Obama and not only his opponent, but his predecessor as well.  Obama was intelligent, articulate, and a hell of an orator.

Like Matt Taibbi, I didn’t watch the recent debate, I read the transcript instead. I agree with Matt’s take in this excellent piece, that one of the candidates lied his butt off, and the other candidate decided not to show up. Why was this? Why did Obama decide not to participate in the debate? There are all manner of speculations floating around, everything from “a no good, very bad day” to a case of the flu. My favorite is this piece from Dave Lindorff on CounterPunch.org. He presents a good case that the Obama no-show was more of a political tactic than anything else, one that could have far-reaching consequences. Continue reading

Obama, Or the Idea Of Obama?

Are Democrats supporting the real Obama, or the idea of Obama?

In his best-selling book “Breaking the Spell,” the philosopher Daniel Dennett proposed that a large number of religious believers didn’t really believe in the dogma and tenants of their particular religion, but instead in the idea of belief itself. That is to say that they wanted the effects, or the idea of religion to be true, such as eternal life, forgiveness of sins, the possibility of healing and other miracles through prayer, etc., but if forced into a corner didn’t really swallow virgin births, talking snakes, worldwide floods, and the rest of the nonsense. Such “believers in belief” will pick-and-choose which of their religions’ dogma’s they will believe, which they will ignore, and which of the principles they will follow, and which they will not. As an example, the overwhelming majority of “practicing Catholics” ignore the Vatican’s admonitions concerning birth control, and most (according to surveys) are unaffected by the church’s weak response to the problem of pedophile priests. You can imagine the uproar if it was, say, an atheist group systematically raping small boys, but even though the current Pope managed a good deal of the cover-up, the organization is still functioning, and still has its share of “believers.”

We are seeing the same phenomena in this presidential election cycle, on both sides of the debate, but especially on the Democratic side. A large number of Democratic voters (most of whom call themselves Liberals) want so much for the idea of Obama to be true that they are willing to forget or ignore most of his actions over the last four years. In a likewise manner, they want so much for the idea of America to be true that they still believe that elections can make a difference, and somehow, if Obama has another four years, he will stop the killing, bring the jobs back, restore the Bill of Rights, lessen the inequity in wealth distribution, take steps to mitigate the effects of global warming, and restore the “American Dream.” They can engage in such magical thinking because they have developed the skill of ignoring not only the current political reality, but also the reality of who Obama is, and who he’s working for. Their magical thinking allows them to accept behavior from Obama for which they would excoriate a Republican, such as murdering women and children by the hundreds in an illegal drone war waged over an entire region, and approving any scheme by the oil companies, no matter the cost to the environment.  Continue reading