The Great Rebate: Can We Get Our Money Back?

They lined up like contestants in a game show, in front of the prize they get if they win — a huge airplane known as Air Force One. Hard to know what the intended symbolism was, but it made them look like very small people. They came, ostensibly, to explain why they should be selected Pilot in Chief (with the two current front runners leading in the race because they have never flown an airplane).

They were in California, which was burning.

Eight hundred homes consumed, 140,000 acres incinerated, 20,000 people evacuated, part of a years-long trend that every year sees the fire season start earlier, go longer, with more fires, bigger fires, fiercer fires. Not just in California, but in Oregon, Washington (where last week there was a fire front a thousand miles long), British Columbia, Alaska (where a few weeks ago 600 fires were burning simultaneously), the Yukon and Northwest Territories, northern Canada (where for days on end the smoke was so bad the firefighting aircraft could not fly) and all across Siberia (where even the peat was burning ferociously, creating scenes survivors said looked like the end of the world).

Inside the room with the big airplane, they didn’t mention the fires.

They spoke in a country whose western third is baking in a thousand-year drought, its farm fields increasingly lying fallow, its lakes and rivers withering away, its cities sucking their water from straws that are beginning to suck air, whose essential summer water source, the mountain snowpack, is at a 500-year low, whose burned-over, parched ground is at the same time at risk from destructive floods from the largest El Nino event ever, in a state whose governor said this week that global warming — if it continues. Right, if. — will cause “mass migrations” of climate refugees — in California.

On the set of the game show, all but three of the contestants refused to talk about climate change; the three all promised not to disrupt the economy because of wild-eyed liberal notions about weather.

Just offshore from where they competed with their backs to the prize, the largest bloom of toxic algae ever seen in the northern Pacific spread from California almost to Alaska, and along that entire distance sea life — from salmon to sardines, from krill to whales, birds by the millions, sea lions by the thousands — have been dying at a rate never seen before.

Just inland from where then pygmies gabble about what they were going to do with the airplane, in North Dakota and Texas, what had been just a few months ago the miracle renaissance of the American oil bidness was a darkening swamp of unemployment and despair, idled rigs, plunging production and bankruptcy.

Nope. Not a word.

Across the Atlantic (whose Gulf Stream is measurably slowing down because of climate change, with fearsome potential consequences for Europe), past Greenland (whose glaciers are melting faster than the worst-case scenarios of just a few years ago), Europe has been distracted from its sinking economy, massive debt and fracturing union by an even worse problem: it is being overrun and destabilized by a tsunami of human misery rolling out of Africa and the Middle East. Increasingly desperate, Europe is starting to call on America for help.

But the 11 dwarfs (and four alternates) nattering in the nave of the Church of Saint Ronald preferred to chirp about the many delights of war, to fantasize about sending more and more troops to die while winning the hearts and minds of the Middle East, to shiver deliciously about the threat to the survival of the world posed by — ISIS? (You remember them. There were 5,000 of them, we killed 15,000, and there are only 20,000 of them left.)

Like the typical game show, the so-called “debate” was a celebration of greed, ignorance and hysteria. Truth and decency were not invited. Not even to the kid’s table.


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10 Responses to The Great Rebate: Can We Get Our Money Back?

  1. Tom says:

    Dang, Mr. Lewis – that’s how one speaks truth to “power!” Great rant!

    None of the folks on stage could lead a cub scout troop let alone the country.

    Where do you want to start? Trump? – the fake haired bloviator who got rich (again) after being bankrupt at least 4 times – isn’t even going to be nominated! The GOP HATES him – except for the fact that he’s drumming up a lot of attention with his rude nonsense. NO ONE asked what his plans are, and nobody cares because he just spews hate for anyone and anything he decides is worthy. It’s just NOISE! He’ll bow out in due time, because this is just fun for him – makes him look important – and he’ll throw his support to whoever looks good by election time.

    Ooh, how about the sole FEMALE in the group – Fiorina – who lost investors in HP HALF of their wealth while still making a cool $100 million! How’s that work? And people might want her to lead? Where – off a cliff?!

    Jeb Bush is another of the entitled Bush family who has no idea what he’s doing but because of his family’s connections, can make a run for preznint. It would be the death knell of the U.S. if he were elected.

    Cristy? Don’t make me laugh – even his own state hates him!

    i could go on, but it’s all the same nonsense – privileged people of the .1% running to be figurehead of the most powerful military on the planet (except we don’t know how to win wars anymore).

    NONE of them, and none of the Dumbocrats either, are even TALKING about the most important problem facing LIFE ON EARTH (climate change) and the only song they know is growth, growth, growth. News flash people – growth is dead, and so is life on Earth – and too soon!

    It’s going to come as a big surprise when the newly elected figurehead finds out that we’re going under, just like the rest of the planet – broiled, flooded, stormed and frozen out of FOOD. While these clowns are posturing the other animal, bird, pollinator and marine species we rely on for sustenance are going extinct. We’ll be right behind them.

  2. Denis Frith says:

    This behavior by Presidential candidates is very sad because there are millions around the globe who were hoping that the United States would provide leadership in the difficult times ahead as natural resources run out, wastes cause climate disruption and ocean acidification and warming while soil fertility and aquifer water decline due to the operation of industrial civilization.

  3. Re the curious debate, I watched bits and pieces of it. Yes, the airplane as a backdrop made for a surreal scene even if no one had opened their mouth. Theater people and artists understand staging and costuming and what is on the stage and what people are wearing are part of the message that the play is trying to convey. So what is the meaning of a full size airplane in the background? Is it an albatross hung around our culture’s neck, representing our profligate use of fossil fuels that is going into decline? Or can we simply take it as representing the presidency of Ronald Reagan?
    And the background story that all the contestants were talking from? Totally delusional. As if prosperity were merely a matter of federal policy re the economy and foreign affairs. Never mind that we live on a finite planet whose resources we depend on to support us.
    As for the climate outside the Reagan Library, a recently published book, The West without Water gives some good history of how the climate in the Southwest has fluctuated since the last ice age. Centuries long droughts are not an anomaly but a feature. California is a real estate developers’ creation made possible by electric water pumps and a century and a half of benign wet weather. That may be changing. But it’s not just drought that characterizes the Western climate. There are also huge floods that happen every hundred to two hundred years, the last one being in 1862. For details see Wikipedia. The great flood of 1862 turned the entire Central Valley into a lake with a depth from ten to twenty feet, a lake that took about three months to drain after its creation. Such a flood today would displace about 6 million people and wipe out agriculture and infrastructure in the Central Valley for a good while. There is also no telling what such a flood would do to the water supply of Los Angeles and the Bay Area both of which get much of their water from far away. Will the pipelines and pumps and aqueducts survive such a flood? Who knows. In any case, one gets the impression when reading climate history of the West that it was never suitable for long-term habitation by large populations. Sparse populations that could migrate to the mountains for water during a drought, yes, 38 million people, not so easy.

  4. SomeoneInAsia says:

    I am reminded of Edgar Allan Poe’s story, The Masque of the Red Death, in which everyone is dying from this terrible pandemic while Prince Prospero and his bunch of filthy rich friends lock themselves safely away in his estate, where they indulge in endless merrymaking and ignore the horrors faced by the world outside.

    Guess you can’t blame Prospero and his gang for doing what they did; what could they do about the sorry situation in the world outside, after all? And the big joke is that the Red Death eventually gets them anyway, and in the end ‘darkness, decay and the Red Death held eternal dominion over all’. Hee, hee, hee, hee, hee…

  5. Craig Moodie says:

    So now, let’s check out the liberal candidates.

    • Carlos Mansilla says:

      Just take a look at the article , and if you think its worth, read the whole page, an ponder all the things that could be done in the country with that money , and before you call it leftist blabber , do some research for yourself . I´m just sending one of hundred´s of pages on the subject.
      And as for canditates you´ve run out of them altoghether, unless you count Trump as one