March 29, 2017

100 Words -- Stepping Out Of The Mist

I was watching a 1959 interview of Carl Jung. He was asked when he first felt conscious of his individual self. He immediately replied that it happened on the way to school at the age of 11. He stepped out of a mist and he knew he was what he was. My recall of the moment I stepped out from the mist of childhood remains equally sharp: waiting for a bus, in my mid-20s, not long out of Vietnam. It’s a powerful moment, that instantaneous awakening to a new sense of who you are with no way back, only forward.

March 28, 2017

Draining the Swamp

An article in Politico highlights why governance ain’t nearly as much fun as opposition. Conservative groups have turned on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt because he won’t reverse an Obama administration ruling that climate change endangers the environment. They want him to snap his fingers and say, “Make it so.” But that would trigger a court battle forcing the government to prove that climate change no longer poses a risk, raising memories of “Miracle on 34th Street,” where the government went to court to prove that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. It didn’t go well then, and it likely wouldn’t go well now.

Later in the article, Pruitt is said to be frustrated over the slow pace of appointing deputies to help him carry out his plans. Another article said the slow pace was intentional, part of Steve Bannon’s plan to deconstruct the administrative state. In fact, if Bannon had his way, most of these positions would remain unfilled. The fact that this undermines efforts to execute Trump’s agenda doesn’t seem to bother Bannon. It’s a helluva way to drain the swamp, especially when the alligators start fighting among themselves.

March 23, 2017

100 Words -- Hillary Lost! Get Over it!

I’ve met many Trump supporters whose fear and loathing for Hillary Clinton still burns brightly. They believe she was, is, and always will be a horrible human being who was crooked, a liar, maybe a murderer, and God knows what else we haven’t found out about yet. She is their all-purpose excuse, their last line of defense to ward off whatever second thoughts they might have about Donald Trump’s presidency. Hillary lost! Get over it! Trump will succeed or fail not because of Hillary or Obama or the dark government but because of his own choices. The buck-passing stops there.

March 19, 2017

100 Words -- Guarding The Trumps

The Judicial Watch, no friends of former President Obama, estimated that during his EIGHT years in office, $97 million was spent on what’s considered “extracurricular activities” (vacations, travel for family, etc.) for himself, his family, Joe Biden, and Biden’s family. In just nine weeks, taxpayers have shelled out $17.5 million just to cover President Trump’s weekends at Mar al Lago. Add in the expenses to cover all his family members and it rounds out to about $166 million for ONE year. So hell yeah, let’s eliminate the NEA and community block grants. Gotta pay for guarding all those Trumps somehow.

March 9, 2017

The Dawning Of The Age Of Stupid

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in an interview with CNBC, “I would not agree that CO2 is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see. I believe that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do, and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact. ... We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.”

What ineffable twaddle, to quote Dr. Watson. The idea that there is tremendous disagreement or that we need to continue studying this is always the last line of defense for those who would rather roll the dice on the world their grandchildren live in rather than sacrifice that last dime of profit to be squeezed out of coal.

The greenhouse effect was first postulated in 1824 and scientifically demonstrated in 1859 by John Tyndall, who measured the radiative properties of specific greenhouse gases. In 1896, Svante Arrhenius made the first quantitative prediction of global warming due to a hypothetical doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Translation: This science has been around for a long time.

In 1829, British coal production was 15 million tons. In 2006, world coal production was 6.2 billion tons. At the turn of the 20th century there were about 8,000 cars in use in the United States. At the turn of the 21st Century there were 450 million or so world-wide. Common sense tells us that if you start out with an atmosphere that contains a certain level of greenhouse gases that results in a given average temperature, and then the industrial revolution injects a massive amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, then something has to change. Logic says that at least one component of that change will be warmer temperatures in the atmosphere because that is what greenhouse gases do.

March 8, 2017

Lost Times

I got a manicure the other day … an acting thing. My manicurist was an Asian lady of uncertain age, maybe late 30s. We chatted haltingly across the language barrier. I asked her where she was from. Vietnam, she said. I spent some time there, I replied, feeling a bit awkward. She asked me where I was, but the places I named didn’t ring any bells. I got the sense that it was hard for her to relate to the fact that I was there as a soldier. She asked when I was there. It was before she was even born. The war-torn Vietnam I knew was not the Vietnam she knew growing up. This is a good thing, I thought. The scars from one generation should fade away with each passing generation. I’m sure others from her generation might feel differently, but I took some comfort in believing that for her, at least, the horror of those days had receded and seemed not to cloud her memories. It’s the best you can hope for, really.

February 20, 2017

100 Words -- Fake News

President Trump constantly decries fake news. If only we had known this sooner, think what the reaction might’ve been to the news in mid-October 2016 that the FBI had discovered new emails that could be pertinent to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Today, Trump supporters would say, “Not so fast, crooked media. This could be fake news! Let’s wait to see if this pans out before we draw any conclusions.” And don’t you know, right before the election the FBI says there’s nothing to it. Yessiree bob, Trump was right all along. Fake news will destroy America.