As I sit I'm reading the Internet. News, opinion, various blogs and websites I enjoy.
Every so often I check into my Facebook for good stuff like this:
Lee: I lost my electroporation virginity today - although my partner was electrifying, it was brief and shocking and I won't know for days whether I'm satisfied. #scienceporn
John (a.k.a FDChief): I have this mental picture of you reclining on the lab table in nothing but a lab coat and cigarette holder while the device intones (in the HAL voice from 2001): "Procedure complete, Lee. Are you sure it was good for you..?"
Lee: That sounds like every day in my lab, John.
John: Well your work is a damn sight more fun that mine, Lee. WTF? GEOLOGY was supposed to be the place to major if your primary interest in science was primarily intoxication and reproductive anatomy. When the hell did you biologists get so lascivious?
Diane: Does HR know?
Lauren (Lee's daughter): I swear, you and John Lawes could write a book on things your offspring never want to hear
John: But not, alas, cooperatively. Apparently biology is the New Sexology and I appear to have completely missed THAT memo...
Lauren: You should ask her to recite her diatribe on pornographic pollination. I was scarred for life after that one. I swear, parents say the darndest things
John: That's the point. You get to be pains in our ass when you're little; we get to be pains in yours when you get big...It was worth the price of admission explaining to my daughter about puberty.
Lauren: My mom drew me a scientifically accurate diagram of the uterus and phallus. It was very educational
John: Knowing your mom...I'll bet. And probably pretty funny.
Lee: I don't remember any of that...
Some people give good Facebook. Some people post reams of fucking cat pictures and links to everything and nothing. It's like letter-writing. Remember those? Let me tell you; I could write a terrific letter. Most people? Not so much. That translates over to the electronic version of epistolary friendships, too, and I'll let you guess which is more enjoyable.
But here's the other thing I found on FB today:
"Democrats appointed to the Democratic Party’s Platform Committee by Hillary Clinton and the party’s chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, defeated a ban on fracking on June 24."This was from my friend (and commentor here) Mike's feed. Mike and a lot of the comments on the original post were, understandably, furious.
It just made me sad and sick at heart.
Because I just don't see that there's a real hope in hell of "doing something" about anthropogenic global warming (or "AGW" for short...) through our political process. And if that's not possible...well...I'm not sure what this planet will look like with a return of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum and I'm not sure I want to.
That, in turn, got me to thinking about what look like very similar electoral situations; Great Britain's "Brexit" referendum and the people who wanted out of the EU, and the coming U.S. general election and the people who want Trump.
In both cases there seem to be a fairly good prima facie case for opposing both Brexit and Trump. Both appear to be based largely on rumors and lies and fed by nativist anger and racist rage. Both appear to be like hitting yourself in the face with a hammer to swat a fly on your nose.
But in both cases there's the arguments my friend Mike and other lefty pals employ against HRC; that the "Remain" argument for the EU (and the "better than Trump" argument for Clinton) are, in effect, demanding your vote for something deeply flawed, something that rewards the rentier class that has effected a silent coup.
Mike and the Sanders supporters make good points about how the current system is horribly skewed against the "regular" Joe and Molly. How things like trade deals and crony capitalism strip people of jobs and wealth, and how people are sick of being "ruled", in effect, by unelected corporations and capitalists. I agree. The current economy isn't "good" for people like me, or my family.
The current system isn't "good" for the planet in terms of accelerating climate change. Both need to be changed.
But what bedevils me is...how?
Republics and democracies aren't good a big, radical changes. They're not good, either, at demanding that their citizens do things that they don't like to do in the short term to make things better in the long term. Remember when Jimmy Carter asked us to turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater? The average U.S. citizen knows perfectly well that things like eating McDonald's rainforest-beef hamburgers, driving an SUV, and living in a 3,500-square foot house with a quarter-acre lawn in a city built in a fucking desert are bad ideas.
They just don't want to not do them.
And - short of war - it's hard to either make them or persuade them TO do them.
That's why I eventually bagged on Sanders. Because I'd read things like this:
"We need a president who will vigorously support international cooperation that brings the people of the world closer together, reduces hypernationalism and decreases the possibility of war. We also need a president who respects the democratic rights of the people, and who will fight for an economy that protects the interests of working people, not just Wall Street, the drug companies and other powerful special interests....and I'd think, yeah, you're right. That'd be great. That'd be awesome.
We need to fundamentally reject our “free trade” policies and move to fair trade. Americans should not have to compete against workers in low-wage countries who earn pennies an hour. We must defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We must help poor countries develop sustainable economic models.
We need to end the international scandal in which large corporations and the wealthy avoid paying trillions of dollars in taxes to their national governments.
We need to create tens of millions of jobs worldwide by combating global climate change and by transforming the world’s energy system away from fossil fuels."
How the fuck would you do that?
I mean, how does President Sanders go to Congress...the same Congress that has a House full of shit-flinging flying monkey wingnuts and a Senate that has enough of the same to prevent cloture, remember?...and tell them, yep, I want to cut the Defense budget and spend it on solar and wind energy. I want to reform the tax code to prevent capital flight and return the top marginal rate to 90% like back in Ike's day. I want to cut CEO pay. I want to raise tariffs to prevent offshoring and job loss.
These are fucking people who think that the problem is that there's not enough oil drilling in fucking National Parks, for fuck's sake. These are people who are elected by even stupider people who think that the world was created 6,000 years ago and that Jesus wants you personally to have the full tank of gas that those dirty, smelly Mooslim people stole and hid under their deserts.
Add to that the people, like the people who voted "Leave", think that "international cooperation" means Brussels telling them what shape their bananas should be.
And you have to convince all these people; the good folks, the worriers, the activists, the goofballs, gomers, nativists, racists, ignoramuses, conspiracy-theorists, ding-dongs, and low-information knotheads to be patient, compromise...and to give up their styrofoam cups and cheap plastic crap from Wally-Mart and NASCAR and put down their Confederate flags and ride the fucking bus to work.
What president could do that?
Hell, Jesus riding on a velociraptor and carrying an AR-15 couldn't fucking do that.
That's what kinda drove and drives me crazy about Bernie. Yes, these are all good things. Now...how do you get them? How do you convince people or coerce people or force people to stop building suburbs? To stop driving to work? To stop buying disposable diapers? To stop living in McMansions? To stop voting for people who tell them that they don't HAVE to stop doing all those things because "global warming" is a lie?
I want to hear not an uplifting speech. I want to hear a plan. I want to hear an actual strategy. How are you going to beat down FOX "News"? How are you going to force-feed Michael Savage and Rushbo and Coulter and Malkin and Beck and every other talk-radio moron a nice, hot cup of STFU? How are you going to get people who don't want to accept the science of climate change to accept it and live the lives they need to live to help change things? How are you - in detail, now - going to get people to ask for more taxes and less cheap Chinese-made crap and more equity?
I'm not saying that we shouldn't keep working for this good stuff Bernie talks about.
I'm saying that by its very nature it's a ridiculously difficult, painful, time-consuming body of work. That you're going to get beat. A LOT. And that you're going to have to grit your teeth and work with people you don't like...like goddamn DLC triangulators and people who want fracking regulated rather than banned.
And that's fucking hard.
So hard that I'm not sure it can ever happen.
And that, in turn, really depresses the shit out of me. The worst are, indeed, full of passionate intensity. And the best...well, they're getting sick and tired of trying to roll that rock uphill.
I want to believe that there are ways. Real ways, practical ways, workable ways, to make all the good stuff that Bernie wants happen.
I just can't see anyone actually producing them.