Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Stages of Grief -- Where the Hell Am I?

The five stages of grief according to popular psychological theory are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

I was in denial while watching the election returns November 8th. I haven't watched the news since, except out of the corner of my eye when my wife is watching The Today Show, or The View. I'm not watching the parody news I used to enjoy, like The Daily Show, or the late night shows, like Stephen Colbert. What is there to laugh about?

It makes me sick to see Donald Trump strutting around, giving the thumbs up gesture, a smug expression on his puffy, orange face. He's a confidence man, and he's pulled off the biggest con in the history of American politics. Sixty million, five hundred and twenty-six thousand, eight hundred and fifty-two American voters fell for it. So, what, I'm angry? God damned right I'm angry.

It's easy to label Trump voters as bigots, racists, fearful xenophobics, "America first" nationalists -- certainly many are, but many are undereducated people who find themselves in relatively low-paying jobs, with no hope for clawing their way up to a better life. These people worked in America's factories, and steel mills, deep down in the coal mines, in textiles, basic housewares, furniture, and paper products -- all low-proficiency factory positions.

Cheaper cross-border labor, the shift to cheaper natural gas, and automation put many of these people out of work. Donald Trump started by offering to re-educate these people at his "Trump University." He's being taken to court for that con job.

When will the dupes who voted for Trump realize they've been taken for the gullible fools "The Donald" saw them as. Am I bargaining now, e.g., "You relatively reasonable Trump voters please learn your lessons and don't vote for a 2nd term for the odious asshole." Is that where I am? Bargaining?

I don't think I'm totally there yet. I'm still angry. I'm angry at the run-of-the-mill republicans, who voted for Trump because they're ideologues -- they could give a shit about Trump being unqualified to lead the Nation either by knowledge, experience, character, or temperament. He was a Republican and that was enough. In my region of Washington State, Benton County, 47, 194 people voted for Donald Trump -- almost 59% of my neighbors. Who the fuck are these people?!

Yes, and I'm angry at the liberal-left "BernieCrats" who demonstrated their annoyance at Bernie not getting the Democratic nomination by voting for a 3rd Party candidate, mostly Jill Stein. Stein was pretty questionable as a presidential prospect, but voting for her was a nice way to show their pique.

And I'm angry at the so-called "millennials," some of whom were just young in terms of voting, who came out to Bernie rallies and cheered wildly for free everything, only to skip voting, go back to college, or their dead-end job, and accumulate more debt.
The stages of grief, like Maslow's Need Hierarchy, are not mutually exclusive. My depression has definitely invaded my angry space. What've I got to be depressed about; I'm relatively well-off, good back-up insurance thanks to my military service, too old to worry about living until global warming causes the water wars -- why worry, be happy!

My problem is that I care too much about everybody else, and about future generations, which hopefully will include my great grandkids. Let me correct that just a bit; I don't give a fuck about the very wealthy that will benefit the most from the tax cuts Trump has promised, or the Wall Street traders, who are drooling over the prospects of a Dodd-Frank rollback, or the Religious Right, who look forward to burning the heathens, like me, at the stake. Yes, that's how little they care about global warming -- they will burn us, because it's a good lesson, and GOD will take care of the environment.

I'm depressed because many of the poor schmucks who voted for Trump really need help. Reneging on trade deals, falling back into an isolationist trade posture, will make everyone poorer.

And often these same people depend most on reproductive care, the kind Planned Parenthood provides, and we know how republicans feel about PPH. They hate it for selling those "baby parts!" And they hate PBS and NPR for reporting facts about PPH not selling "baby parts," and not condemning PPH for the GODLESS heathens that they are -- to the stakes!

I'm depressed because Donald Trump called out a particular religion and filled his already racist supporters with targeted hate. I know Muslim-Americans. I like them. They are no more prone to terrorism that the White Supremacists who support Trump -- less so, in fact. And of course, Trump started with Mexicans and he doesn't differentiate between Mexican-Americans and Mexicans, or Hispanics, or Latinos -- they're all drug dealers, criminals, and rapists, "and I assume some are good people." God, Donald Trump is just such an asshole!

See how easy it is to fall back into the angry stage. I have much more to say about why I'm depressed, but I have to stop this diatribe, because it's making me angrier. I need to move through depression into acceptance.

Yeah, fuck that! I'm going stay angry and depressed until Donald Trump is back in his own made-for-TV realty and not America's.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Crow for Thanksgiving

I spent some time over the weekend researching recipes for cooking crow, which I’ll be having for Thanksgiving. I’ll share what I find with media journalists and pundits, who like me, were outspoken in our belief that Americans would never elect a person like Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States of America — that “shining city on a hill.”

In an earlier post (and in the Tri-City Herald), I discussed how Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders launched insurgent campaigns against the major parties, and why Trump won and Sanders lost. Essentially, the Republican Party was more ‘democratic’ than the Democratic Party.

As a result, I opined that the GOP was stuck with a candidate they didn’t really want; a candidate whose chances of winning were “slim to none,” and, as Jeff Greenfield wrote in Politico Magazine, “whose temperament and character might put a dangerous, unfit person into the Oval Office.”

I also said, “there’s a very good chance the GOP may lose the Senate,” and concluded by saying that, “What happens to the Republican Party after the election depends on what the Republican Party leadership does now.”
What happened instead is history. Trump won.

Hillary supporters are consoling themselves with the fact that she won the popular vote. If this were a popularity contest, Hillary would win the title of the least disliked candidate.

Not only did Trump become President-Elect, but Republicans retained control of the Senate and the House, and gained another “trifecta” — a situation where one party holds the governorship, and majorities in both state legislative houses. Republicans now have 25 trifectas, while Democrats have only 6.

The map of America is glaringly red. This does not bode well for those seeking an end to, or even a rollback of restrictive voting rights laws, nor to the gerrymandering that disenfranchises voters of a particular “persuasion” (i.e., minorities). Furthermore, when President Trump pushes through his SCOTUS nominee(s), relief from a court that already gutted the Voting Rights Act will be unlikely.

So instead of the Republican Party reexamining what it did wrong to end up with a candidate like Donald Trump, they’ll congratulate themselves on how democratic they were in allowing an open nominating process that resulted in nominating a “man of the people.”

Meanwhile, democrats will spend the next six weeks wailing about how unfair the Electoral College is. Then the DNC will begin strategy sessions on how they can emulate the RNC and obstruct Trump and the Republican Congress at every opportunity. At the same time, they’ll be asking their supporters to sign President Obama’s “Thank You Card,” while simultaneously dunning them for contributions to the cause — whatever that is.

I may be eating crow this Thanksgiving, but I’ll still have something to be thankful for — the end of this election.

Sing a song of six pence,
a pocketful of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds
baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened,
the birds began to sing.
Wasn’t that a dainty dish
to set before the king?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

No point crying over spilled milk

by Jon Phillips
Opinions on the future -- 12 quick points

1. No point crying over spilled milk.

2. Democrats should agree that Hillary is done running for President and be vocal about that. The fact that much of the case against her is innuendo and 20 years of Republican stink bomb attacks is now irrelevant. She's damaged politically and too old to run again. Let her go. The party should start vetting new champions for 4 years hence.

3. Democrats should prepare for a tough 4 years and that means developing a coherent strategy to block damaging appointments and legislation -- including the Supreme Court. The future character of the nation depends on the balance in the Supreme Court and the lower courts. The GOP has succeeded in making politics into an ugly game of stalemate, so I don't see much value in going along to get along. Sometimes, gridlock and stalemate are preferable to alternatives. Remove it from your mind that Republicans will somehow turn over a new leaf of civility and compromise in government. The GOP has multiple personality disorder. Don your brass knuckles until they emerge from this madness.

4. Democrats should do their best to take back the Senate as soon as possible and attrit the GOP margin in the House -- aim at the next midterm if possible on the Senate and flip the House in the next 3 cycles. Refocus on State races to blunt gerrymandering in the States. Keep banging the climate change drum every time there're disastrous weather events.

5. Propose and support reform of electoral processes that include top two runoffs to prevent small third party spoilers from wreaking the popular agenda.

6. I think we can count on comedians to thrash Donald continuously. He's continuous material. He could put political satirist writers out of business. Provoke him and he falls apart. People will tire of his adolescent fraternity boy drama very quickly.

7. Put serious thought into development of policy proposals to resolve the fundamentals that supported his grass roots (other than bigotry, misogyny, and xenophobia which are unacceptable and corrosive to the national pluralistic spirit). Basically, how to move back toward a strong and growing middle class. I suggest big transformative infrastructure that's domestic skilled labor heavy. Press toward "fair trade," emphasize social policy strongly tilted to building lower and center middle class economic positions. Defend Obamacare by continuously and vocally proposing practical reforms while blocking repeal. Affordable medical care is essential to regrow the middle class.

8. Do our best to prevent any march to war -- authoritarians love to distract a public by starting a war. It's what keeps many of them in power. This is an enormous danger since foreign and military policy are the principal powers of the President. Maintain lots of track 2 engagement that is forward looking with overseas partners to maintain relationships as well as possible. Keep his finger off the trigger (conventional and nuclear -- heaven forbid).

9. Work to pull more centrist Republicans into the center and even into Democratic Party. There are lots of newly disaffected and there will be even more as Donald's unseemly underbelly is increasingly revealed in the near future.

10. Figure out new strategies to pull more women's votes. From Romney to Trump only 2% changed sides. Romney was a polite gentleman though traditional Mormon. Donald was a groper. Why are women insensitive to such a radical difference. It suggests that between 40 and 45% of college-educated white women don't care so long as it's a white dominant male.
Edison National Election Poll
11. In short, hope for the best, but prepare for continuous political battle. The nation and the world is depending on us to prevent Donald from driving the country and world off a cliff. I realize that he won't know any better, but now we have to try and limit the damage of ignorants.

12. There's no point crying over spilled milk, but we should get out the mops and clean it up.

Jon Phillips is a Senior Nuclear Technology Expert at the International Atomic Energy Agency and Director, Sustainable Nuclear Power Initiative at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The opinions expressed here are his own.

President Obama's Post 2016 Election Comments

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Yesterday, before votes were tallied, I shot a video that some of you may have seen in which I said to the American people: Regardless of which side you were on in the election, regardless of whether your candidate won or lost, the sun would come up in the morning.

And that is one bit of prognosticating that actually came true. The sun is up. And I know everybody had a long night. I did, as well. I had a chance to talk to President-elect Trump last night -- about 3:30 in the morning, I think it was -- to congratulate him on winning the election. And I had a chance to invite him to come to the White House tomorrow to talk about making sure that there is a successful transition between our presidencies

Now, it is no secret that the President-elect and I have some pretty significant differences. But remember, eight years ago, President Bush and I had some pretty significant differences. But President Bush’s team could not have been more professional or more gracious in making sure we had a smooth transition so that we could hit the ground running. And one thing you realize quickly in this job is that the presidency, and the vice presidency, is bigger than any of us.

So I have instructed my team to follow the example that President Bush’s team set eight years ago, and work as hard as we can to make sure that this is a successful transition for the President-elect -- because we are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country. The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy. And over the next few months, we are going to show that to the world.

I also had a chance last night to speak with Secretary Clinton, and I just had a chance to hear her remarks. I could not be prouder of her. She has lived an extraordinary life of public service. She was a great First Lady. She was an outstanding senator for the state of New York. And she could not have been a better Secretary of State. I'm proud of her. A lot of Americans look up to her. Her candidacy and nomination was historic and sends a message to our daughters all across the country that they can achieve at the highest levels of politics. And I am absolutely confident that she and President Clinton will continue to do great work for people here in the United States and all around the world.

Now, everybody is sad when their side loses an election. But the day after, we have to remember that we’re actually all on one team. This is an intramural scrimmage. We’re not Democrats first. We're not Republicans first. We are Americans first. We’re patriots first. We all want what’s best for this country. That’s what I heard in Mr. Trump’s remarks last night. That's what I heard when I spoke to him directly. And I was heartened by that. That's what the country needs -- a sense of unity; a sense of inclusion; a respect for our institutions, our way of life, rule of law; and a respect for each other. I hope that he maintains that spirit throughout this transition, and I certainly hope that’s how his presidency has a chance to begin.

I also told my team today to keep their heads up, because the remarkable work that they have done day in, day out -- often without a lot of fanfare, often without a lot of attention -- work in agencies, work in obscure areas of policy that make government run better and make it more responsive, and make it more efficient, and make it more service-friendly so that it's actually helping more people -- that remarkable work has left the next President with a stronger, better country than the one that existed eight years ago.

So win or lose in this election, that was always our mission. That was our mission from day one. And everyone on my team should be extraordinarily proud of everything that they have done, and so should all the Americans that I’ve had a chance to meet all across this country who do the hard work of building on that progress every single day. Teachers in schools, doctors in the ER clinic, small businesses putting their all into starting something up, making sure they're treating their employees well. All the important work that's done by moms and dads and families and congregations in every state. The work of perfecting this union.

So this was a long and hard-fought campaign. A lot of our fellow Americans are exultant today. A lot of Americans are less so. But that's the nature of campaigns. That's the nature of democracy. It is hard, and sometimes contentious and noisy, and it's not always inspiring.

But to the young people who got into politics for the first time, and may be disappointed by the results, I just want you to know, you have to stay encouraged. Don’t get cynical. Don’t ever think you can’t make a difference. As Secretary Clinton said this morning, fighting for what is right is worth it.
Sometimes you lose an argument. Sometimes you lose an election. The path that this country has taken has never been a straight line. We zig and zag, and sometimes we move in ways that some people think is forward and others think is moving back. And that's okay. I’ve lost elections before. Joe hasn't. (Laughter.) But you know.

(The Vice President blesses himself.) (Laughter.)

So I've been sort of --

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Remember, you beat me badly. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: That’s the way politics works sometimes. We try really hard to persuade people that we’re right. And then people vote. And then if we lose, we learn from our mistakes, we do some reflection, we lick our wounds, we brush ourselves off, we get back in the arena. We go at it. We try even harder the next time.

The point, though, is, is that we all go forward, with a presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens -- because that presumption of good faith is essential to a vibrant and functioning democracy. That's how this country has moved forward for 240 years. It’s how we’ve pushed boundaries and promoted freedom around the world. That's how we've expanded the rights of our founding to reach all of our citizens. It’s how we have come this far.

And that's why I'm confident that this incredible journey that we're on as Americans will go on. And I am looking forward to doing everything that I can to make sure that the next President is successful in that. I have said before, I think of this job as being a relay runner -- you take the baton, you run your best race, and hopefully, by the time you hand it off you're a little further ahead, you've made a little progress. And I can say that we've done that, and I want to make sure that handoff is well-executed, because ultimately we're all on the same team.

All right? Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Goodbye to the Climate

by Robert N Stavens
The International New York Times
Smog trapped in the valley of Sandy, Utah. Credit George Frey/Bloomberg
Donald J. Trump once tweeted that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive.” Twitter messages may not be clear signs of likely public policies, but Mr. Trump followed up during the campaign with his “America First Energy Plan,” which would rescind all of President Obama’s actions on climate change.

The plan includes canceling United States participation in the Paris climate agreement and stopping all American funding of United Nations climate change programs. It also includes abandoning the Clean Power Plan, a mainstay of the Obama administration’s approach to achieving its emissions reduction target for carbon dioxide under the Paris agreement.

What should we make of such campaign promises? Taking Mr. Trump at his word, he will surely seek to pull the country out of the Paris pact. But because the agreement has already come into force, under the rules, any party must wait three years before requesting to withdraw, followed by a one-year notice period.

Those rules would seem to be mere technicalities. The incoming Trump administration simply can disregard America’s pledge to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 26 to 28 percent below the 2005 level by 2025. That is bad enough. But the big worry is what other key countries, including the world’s largest emitter, China, as well as India and Brazil, will do if the United States reneges on its pledge. The result could be that the Paris agreement unravels, taking it from the 97 percent of global emissions currently covered by the pact to little more than the European Union’s 10 percent share.

In addition, Mr. Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency probably will stop work on regulations of methane emissions (a very potent greenhouse gas) from existing oil and gas operations. Undoing complex existing regulations, such as the Clean Power Plan, will be more difficult, but a reconstituted Supreme Court will probably help President Trump when that plan inevitably comes before the court.

Also, the new president will most likely ask that the Keystone XL pipeline permit application be renewed — and facilitate other oil and gas pipelines around the country.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump promised to “bring back” the coal industry by cutting environmental regulations. That may not be so easy. The decline of that industry and related employment has been caused by technological changes in mining, and competition from low-priced natural gas for electricity generation, not by environmental regulations. At the same time, Mr. Trump has pledged to promote fracking for oil and gas, but that would make natural gas even more economically attractive, and accelerate the elimination of coal-sector jobs.

If he lives up to his campaign rhetoric, Mr. Trump may indeed be able to reverse course on climate change policy, increasing the threat to our planet, and in the process destroy much of the Obama legacy in this important realm. This will make the states even more important players on this critical issue.

Robert N. Stavins is a professor at Harvard, where he directs the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements.