Hillary Hallucinates Energy Independence


Wait, we don’t have to do it! Just roll up our sleeves and imagine it’s already done!

Just when we were beginning to accept that the lesser evil in this batshit-crazy, un-presidential election was also the safer option, we get confirmation that Hillary Clinton is almost as delusional as Donald Trump. In last night’s debate, minutes after scornfully describing Trump as “living in an alternative [sic] universe,” Mrs. Clinton emailed a dispatch from her private planet, announcing for the first time anywhere that in the United States, “We are now, for the first time ever, energy independent.”

Now, among English speakers, the words “energy” and “independence,” used together, have a specific meaning. (I know, it’s quaint of me to suggest that words have meaning independently of who is using them, but you can have my dictionary when you pry it from my cold, dead hands…) A country is energy independent if, and only if, it produces all the energy it needs. Continue reading

We Must be Mushrooms


When you’re a mushroom, you don’t expect anybody to tell you the truth.

We must be mushrooms, because they keep us in the dark and feed us nothing but crap. The dominant media, the government, needless to say the politicians — they all lie to us, all the time, when it matters and when it doesn’t, in big things and small.

Take a small thing. The other day, all the websites and channels were vibrating to a version of the headline: “Driverless Uber Cars Debut in Pittsburgh.” It was, to read the headlines and the first two-thirds of the articles, the dawning of the age of the driverless. That’s the “narrative” right now, that a day after tomorrow the highways will be gorged with cars driving themselves while happy commuters take drugs and watch movies, or whatever. Continue reading

Let Them Eat Twinkies

let them eat twinkies

A change in food stamp benefits for up to a million people such as this one is affecting WalMart’s profits. Something must be done. (Photo by FaceMePLS/Flickr)

In this, the eighth successful year of our Glorious Recovery from the Great Recession, things are really looking up for the American Lower Class, formerly known as Middle. The unemployment rate as calculated by the U.S. Government (adjusted for inflation, seasonally adjusted, smoothed, combed and curried) is down to a piddling five per cent, which is regarded by the country-club set as better-than-full employment, because, they suspect, thousands of people are working against their will. Moreover, the number of able-bodied adults capable of working, but not working, classified as “not in the labor pool” and therefore not unemployed (and thus not included in the calculation of the unemployment rate) is only up to 95 million people.

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The Bonfire of the Banalities

You can watch the fires break out and spread only for so long before you, too, are involved.

You can watch the fires break out and spread only for so long before you, too, are involved.

There is, it seems, something of a disconnect between the world in which you and I live, and that inhabited by those who want to be our Great Leader for the next four years.

In our world, this will be the hottest year the earth has ever experienced. It will break the previous record, set last year. Which broke the previous record, set the year before. Arctic sea ice has shrunk to a smaller area than ever recorded, with massive, yet-to-be-calculated effect on the world’s weather and oceans. The glaciers of Greenland and Antarctica are disappearing at rates far exceeding the worst-case scientific scenarios of just a few years ago. All of this because of the air pollution from burning fossil fuels. Continue reading

Brexit Brokit. Now Trumpit?

Scorpion and Tortoise

“All we need to do to get safely through this,” said the scorpion to the tortoise and the tortoise to the scorpion, “is be true to ourselves.” (Wikipedia Image)

It was unthinkable that voters in the United Kingdom would elect to leave the European Union. And indeed, thinking was apparently not involved, because the very ones who did it are running around today screaming “WTF?WTF?” and asking please, sir, could they have a do-over? It is unthinkable that voters in the United States would ever, likewise, place their country in the hands of a President Donald Trump. Go ahead, take a minute and try. See? You cannot think it. Doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen. Continue reading

The United States of Anxiety


Any minute, in any place, the terrorists could strike. We’re the only ones who can save you. Vote for us.

In this the fifteenth successful year of the War on Terror, it is fitting that the leaders of a crumbling empire report to their terrified citizens on the hard-won battles that have been prosecuted in their names. Yesterday, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, did just that, with a forthright report to the oxymoronic Senate Intelligence Committee. Allow me to set the stage:

  • For 15 years, the military power of the largest, richest, most advanced armed forces in the world, in the history of the world, have been deployed against a force of musket-wielding, Toyota-truck-driving desperadoes whose aggregate numbers have probably never exceeded the population of Winchester, Virginia.
  • The United States has spent approximately $14 million per hour on this war, for 15 years — nearly two trillion dollars and counting — on an enemy that has no air force, no navy, no heavy missiles, no armor, no artillery, and not much money.
  • On 9/11/2001, Al Qaeda had about 20,000 fighters. To punish them for their attack on the World Trade Center, we invaded two countries, killed an estimated 1.3 million people (that’s just in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan) and suffered 10,000 American fatalities.

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The War on Hemp

hemp meme

The Internet went nuts over this meme the other day. Obviously we gotta grow more hemp. Do it, and you’ll go to jail.

It is one of the first crops cultivated by humans, and was a staple crop for the American colonies. It requires less water than  most crops, and no pesticides at all, to grow, and while growing it detoxifies soil and sequesters CO2. Its seeds are a superfood, yielding highly nutritious flour, bread, cereal, “milk”, oil and protein additives — as well as fuel, paint, ink and cosmetics. Its fast-growing stalk yields one of the strongest and most useful fibers known, used in superior paper, canvas, ropes, insulation, cardboard, clothing, shoes and plastic — plastic that is, by the way, biodegradable. This one plant can provide many of the products an industrial society needs, sustainably, while drastically reducing pollution, energy consumption, deforestation, fossil fuel use and providing income for millions of farmers (in places like West Virginia, where glum people sit around in fertile hollows mourning the death of coal).

So, of course, planting, harvesting, or even studying hemp is mostly illegal in the United States and has been for decades. Continue reading

Feeling the Bernout


Like King Arthur in T.H. White’s The Candle in the Wind, Bernie Sanders led a rising against brute force, and lost, yet will be remembered for an historic moral victory. (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

We knew (didn’t we?) that Bernie Sanders was never going to save the world, or our country. But wasn’t it grand watching him try, and succeed in doing things that everybody knew were impossible to do? Everybody knew it was impossible to finance a major political campaign without drinking the poisoned Kool-Aid of rich peoples’ money. Bernie did it. Everybody knew you couldn’t be a contender if you didn’t like war — all wars, any war, war all the time. Bernie was a contender. Everybody knew that you could not be competitive in national politics if you ever mentioned the words “climate change” without  a sneer and a snowball. Bernie was competitive, after he identified climate change as the number one threat to the future of the United States.

Seems like everybody doesn’t know very much. Still, as they say, even stopped clocks are correct twice a day. Everybody knew that Bernie couldn’t win, because he’s a Jew, a “socialist,” too old, and for all the reasons mentioned above. Everybody was wrong about all the reasons, but right in the conclusion, as the state of New York confirmed yesterday. Continue reading

2015: The Year of Lying Dangerously


No, we don’t think his nose is deformed. Looks perfectly normal to us. And we’re going to vote for him. Photo by Tristan Schmurr/ Flickr

The crash of the industrial age proceeded apace in 2015. One reason that is not well understood is that a different, parallel trend — the onset of moral bankruptcy accompanying the collapse of American Empire — also accelerated this year, often obscuring the economic news, often by design. Whether one is causing the other, or both are caused by something else, is something for the historians to sort out, if there are any historians. Right now, both are happening too fast to analyze. But let’s focus for a moment on the moral decline.

The ethical glue that once held our culture together — the unquestioned mutual commitment to freedom and decency and fair dealings — is liquefying at a terrifying rate. This is what happens at the end of empires, when the energy of their high ideals is spent, the ecstasy of their ascent is in the past, and the agony of decline causes them — their leaders and their people — to abandon everything they once believed in. Continue reading

Presidential Poll Dancing


Pollsters used to get it wrong once in a great while, as when they missed Harry Truman’s victory. Now they get it wrong a lot, and it matters.

There are a lot of things wrong with the horse-race meme as it is applied to presidential politics. (“Coming around the first turn, it’s Chump Change in the lead, with Doctor Strangelove coming up on the inside….”) We all understand, if we think about it for just a minute, that an election is not a horse race, and to describe it as if it is adds nothing to our comprehension of what is actually happening.

It accomplishes the same thing Ronald Reagan used to do, in his early days as a sportscaster, when he took the box scores of a faraway baseball game off the wire service and used them to imagine the game itself and broadcast a play-by-play description. No harm, no foul, we might say; although the broadcast was bogus, it was entertaining, made money for the broadcaster, and was, as they say, inspired by true events.

But what if the box scores were bogus? Continue reading