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Progress and Regress

Progress for me recently was buying a used 2012 Mitsubishi MiEV. Regress is the miserable direction our world is headed politically. I’ll address both here.

Regular readers here know I am a proponent of appropriate technologies such as electric vehicles. They are unquestionably better for our environment – simpler, peppier, and less expensive to operate. They are environmentally, economically, and ethically better for us.

That’s why I used my electric bike for three years around town instead of my big Taurus V-6. I like my big, 5,000 pound Taurus. I admire the technical skill that went into making it as well as that of making the gasoline that fuels it. But instead of using it for every trip, I leave it at home and use it only when really needed for long trips and carrying heavy loads.

It is undeniably bad for our environment and economy to keep using fossil fuels like gasoline and diesel for our usual transport now that we know how they are worsening our worldwide weather towards unnatural heat. Droughts, fires, rainstorms and megastorms are coming despite the highly financed FUD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt) pushed in our faces by fossil fuel interests. It is ethically wrong to keep using this former technology. It was exciting, fun, and easy to fuel our cars and muscle cars. But it was and is killing us and ruining our future. It will be even more exciting, fun, and easy to drive electric. It’s one of the things we can do personally and collectively to rescue our planet from the pridicament we’ve created.

So I gladly used my electric bike for three years, getting around town for pennies rather than dollars. This not only did not generate the various forms of pollution that my car would have, it kept that much money in my wallet or in my town rather than sending it to Houston or Saudia Arabia to finance ongoing pollution and the wars needed to keep it going.

However, I crashed twice (photos in “Is Barbie the Answer?”). At 78, I’m more vulnerable to such bashing. I can’t afford most electric cars. Fortunately, I purchased an eleven year old one that has questionable batteries for a price I could afford. It’s safer and more comfortable to ride around town in an otherwise nice car. Risky? Yes. I can’t push it on the freeway or go up the big hills around town, but mostly, I get my needs met affordably and ethically. Most electric cars handle such driving easily. Mine gets me there affordably, if precariously.

I love it how every time I take my foot off of the “gas” it recharges the battery, especially if I use the brake or go downhill. What was wasted in the old way is cleanly regenerated in the new. Every time I drive past a gas station, I’m glad I’m not fueling up there, having spent mere pennies for charging it up at home. This is not to say I’m gloating or accusing those using regular cars. I still use my old Taurus. I don’t blame others for using their familiar cars. Nor do I castigate the auto and oil industries for providing what we formerly wanted. I’m not smug about my new car.

I do criticise the fossil fuel interests for financing the FUD that slows the transition to electrics. They have spent millions tricking us into denying and avoiding the huge problem of global warming (conviently changed to to the ambiguous term “climate change”). To the extent they financed such lying, I believe they’re liable for worldwide damages. I do criticise our U.S. car companies (except Tesla) for fighting emmission standards and stalling on creating truly affordable electrics. As with solar cells, China is ahead of us by far with cars and busses. With President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, we’ll increase our progress with appropriate technologies such as solar cells, heat pumps, and electric cars.

Ford is finally investing in EVs, and GM and Chrysler are slowly joining in. All the materials and manufacturing of the former fossil fuel cars will transition to electrics soon. The fossil fuel industry is trying to forestall this progress, but the simplicity and effeciency of electric transport is undeniable and unstoppable. It will cost less to be cleaner.

So, the progress tole of this essay isn’t just for my car, it’s our collective progress towards a cleaner, healthier, more affordable world.

For the regress of this essay I won’t go on much here beyond sharing my grief and worry about the relentless rise of fascism and war within our country and world. The slaughter of innocents in Israel and Palestine, the resurgance of populist fascism in Argentinia, the transnational death squads launched from formerly peaceful India, the stubborn divisive crudeness of the former president and his MAGA hoard, the relentless ridicule and threats embedded in our social media, the manipulation of our media itself – all these should alarm and awaken us.

Instead of a single coherent essay on all this, I’m out of time before the end of the month when you get an automatic mailing, so I’m resorting to posting all the comments I’ve made online during September, October, and November this year. I apologise for the difficulty you may have in reading it, should you decide to read on.

A few themes recur: electric vehicles, the renewed trend towards more wars, the silly and shallow assumption that rural people all vote Red, the admirable efforts of Pope Francis, and the flooding of our social media with mind-stirring, unrelenting ridicule (mostly automatically generated by bots and paid trolls). Besides occasional replies to tweets, I put my two cents in at an appropriate technology site, Cleantechnica, a mostly Catholic religious forum Religious News Service, a local exchange called NextDoor Neighbor, a few tweets (can we use that verb any more?) and a leftist forum, Daily KOS. I try to say where these are posted, for what reason, and sometimes I include the comments of others that I’m addressing.

Again, apologies for the work needed to read these. And thanks for reading my essays at all. Lately, having no congregation or audience to want what I have to say and pay me for it, I give my energy as a citizen of the world over to such interactions, hoping is sways the vast momentum of modern memes towards the ultimate goodness this world could untimately enjoy. Still stuck with a minister habit despite earning zero dollars for doing so, I’m like what Emerson said, “Always a seer is a sayer.” Here goes:

BBC Says in the Fall of 2023

September

9-7-23 Response to Dan Rather’s Substack essay on China:

Historically, China has not been an imperialistic power except near its own borders.  Before Columbus sailed, Zheng He commanded a sailing ship over four times longer than Columbus’.  His missions to the Mid East and Africa – to spread friendly trade relations.  We’re the ones taunting war there, not them here.  We should engage the Chinese with respectful, competitive, and creative relations – especially as regards Global Warming.  I’m leery of creating needless enemies and wars. 

A reader replied to me:

We really don’t have a say, about wars. The billionaires and corporations control the politicians and they are the ones that make the tanks, rifles, clothes, jets, and weapons.

My reply:

They profit. The soldiers and civilians, not so much.

9-8-23 comment to Steve Hanley article on Cleantechnica regarding his electric Bolt and needing to use a public charger only once in a summer of driving:

Range anxiety is overhyped. When convenient, overnight charging on a simple 110 Volt outlet not only satisfies most local driving needs, but it’s also gentler on the batteries, which makes them last longer. Plus, it’s far cheaper to “fuel.”

If more people realized this far less expensive option, there’d be more BEV and Plug-in Hybrid EV sales. Most vehicles stay right around town. Easy peasy.

9-12-23 to Daily KOS on red state/ blue state:

I’m from Michigan, and I’m proud of the progressive advances there after a string of Republican atrocities.  However, now I’m from Oregon, and I’m even prouder of this progressive state.  It’s poor but kind and fair.  

But I’m in a liberal enclave in a largely conservative rural area.  Dems missed an opportunity to deliberately reach out to all 50 states, especially those in rural areas.  There are more liberal people in such areas than the loudmouthed MAGA types admit.  They need to be included and encouraged nationally. 

Very small towns in rural America need heartfelt inclusion and creative systemic attention.  Dems need to take this responsibility and opportunity on.  

9-16-23 to forum on Steve Hanley’s Scientist Report on the Status of a Broken Planet:

The science fiction novel Ministry for the Future does a good job at describing many of the various interlocking aspects that need dramatic attention.

Would that more people realize and implement such a Ministry. As is, the “the weather is always changing” is the simplistic and stupid response to the ambiguous term “climate change.”

If the fossil fuel companies are financing bots, trolls, and articles designed to create more FUD, they should be held financially liable for the enormous costs they’re creating.

Sane day to same article on Daily KOS:

To the extent that fossil fuel contributes to this planetary disaster, and to the extent they continue to finance misleading articles, bots, trolls, and lobbying to ignore and delay a change, is the basis and extent for making them financially liable for the enormous planetary costs current and impending.  

They’ve known since the 70s of the relationship between burning fossil fuels and global heating, yet in the 80s and since they have doubled down on denying it while perpetuating it.  

We should heavily fine and tax their enormous ill-gotten profits.  

9-18-23 reply to McKibben tweet of a NYC fossil fuel protest:

What sickens me is all the deliberate ignorance and shallow arrogance of those replying here in stupid and insulting ways rather than admitting and adjusting to the enormous and growing problem of fossil fuel pollution. I thank McKibben and these protestors!

9-19-23 to Cleantechnica on Climate Deniers Coming for Your Kids:

Conservatives are said to conserve reliable systems, yet they scurry to deny our weather is changing for the worse. Liberals are, according to the dictionary, abundant, generous, free-thinking, and libertine, yet the corporate/government gets labeled “neo-liberal.”

Orwell and Machiavelli would understand how such language is used on us. Good luck raising up the children with such words, especially when coupled to praising those who are stupid but belligerent.

Same day to CT on the strike, adding to a list of movies that came up to describe our plight:

Ideocracy?

Same day to Religious News Service article on Pope Francis’ message to Bill Clinton warning of the worldwide trend towards war:

Cynical ridicule of our very human leaders shows many who mock Pope Francis and Bill Clinton apparently favor war over peace. I am dismayed that those who consider themselves religious are so flippant towards the madness and cruelty of war.

I agree with Francis’ warning. Otherwise, rage is all the rage these days.

Red Duck replied:

“apparently favor war over peace”

Or more probably favor realistic efforts that show results over mindless pious platitudes and showmanship.

So I replied to Red:

Such as which “realistic efforts?” And which of his comments were “mindless pious platitudes and showmanship?”

(No Reply from Red)

9-22-23 reply tweet to the Weather Prof on record, worldwide heat rise:

Cue the denial bots and trolls, eager and perhaps paid to dismiss our sensible and responsible concern.

Same day to Cleantechnica on the EV Revolutioni in 5 Charts, to a comment about a 67 Camaro:

I anticipate such classic cars will be retrofitted with EV components. Save such cars. Drive them rarely and look to the day when retrofit kits will be able to rescue them from the junkyard.

9-24-23 to Cleantechnica on DeSantis, a comment about King Canute

King Kanute’s point was that even a king cannot command the tides. DeSantis is merely a wanna-be king, a stupid, arrogant one.

To same article in general:

What is it with conservatives and Republicans, pretending to be patriotic while promoting anti-environment, anti-democratic, fascist fools?

We have the party of Social Security and the other party of Antisocial Insecurity.

It’s time for decent conservative and Republicans to stop voting for such deranged blowhards – enemies of democracy, a civil society, and a healthy environment.

Sensible citizens know investing in clean, renewable, widespread energy and simple, reliable, fast EVs will pay off big time and long term for our environment and economy.

It’s time for Democrats to make this appeal simple and obvious, welcoming those conservatives and Republicans of integrity to abandon the crazies. The Dems should also proactively welcome and encourage current nonvoters to help rescue our country.

9-25-23 to Religious News Service on pilgrims addressing “climate change,” in particular to someone who dismisses it as natural:

The current climate change isn’t natural. It’s a radical jump in overall heating leading to the oceans being sickened and rising, the storms carrying more energy and water, the droughts baking our forests until they burn, and our farmlands into deserts.

Elohim God created this world in six evolutionary steps, or so it is said in Genesis One. That’s where God also calls those stages of evolution “good.” The light, water, land, plants, animals, and human animals (males and females) were “good.” All together, God calls them “very good.”

I agree with God on this.

How people who consider themselves religious can remain deliberately ignorant, scoffing at global warming as if is merely natural, throwing out petty insults toward those who understand our transnational, transhistorical predicament astonishes me. May they go to their preferred heaven – soon!

I praise and thank those religious types as described in this article. Just as we all innocently contributed to the carbon imbalance before we realized how pumping it back into the sky is sickening us, so should we responsibly do our part to alter our individual and collective ways towards a healthy planet. We all share our only home and can do so in ways that make it better, not worse.

9-9-23 On KOS, re AOC being hounded on Fox while Boebert’s antics go unmentioned:

giovannigiorgio wrote a few days ago:

Despicable but hey they’re Republicans.  

It’s true, it was wall-to-wall on Fux when AOC went out to lunch in Florida.  Breathless coverage, as if a New Yorker just cannot be seen in another state—checks notes—in the same fucking country.  The silence from the family values crowd is truly embarrassing.

I replied, quoting the article:

“Fascism means you get to break rules far in excess of what you’d tolerate from the powerless. That’s the whole deal.”

And when it gets out of hand, getting to break the rules gets murderous.  

Blue Dude replied to me:

That’s a great quote, isn’t it.   Here’s my gripe.  In many (most?) places where cable TV is marketed you have to buy programming packages in bundles.  And the bundles often include FAKE News and a buhjesuz load of Jesus channels. You are in essence FORCED to  support points of view that may be abohorent to your personal value system in order to get access to the specific one or two news channels or other programming you support. I can’t see how given our emphasis on freedom of choice (in all things but a woman’s autonomy over her body, apparently)  that businesses can force you to pay for what you oppose. If they can get away with Supreme court rulings on hypothetically being forced to supporting value systems you disagree with via your purchase of some trivial item like a wdding cake or videograph of a marriage, then why hasn’t someone in power made that ruling apply to cable packaging? Hey KOS, Hey Readers, Hey ACLU is there anyone out their that can put that case together using the precedent MAGA SCOTUS just created?  I’d donate to that cause in a skinny minute!  KOS editors… give America a hand on that one!

I replied to Blue Dude:

Decent distinction, Dude.  Fox News and Christian stations intrude into our public places as if everyone wants them.  You don’t, I don’t, many don’t.  It is all the worse since Reagan ended fairness in broadcasting.  Like the puncture vine and crabgrass in my yard, they’re relentless.

Similarly, we have a clunky form of democracy.  Do my three Republican County Commissioners and Representatives (we have three Rs only) represent only those who voted for them or all those in their district?  Proportional representation would help give voice to those minority parties and people now easily ignored.  Ranked choice voting would help.

When I lived on a lake, I wondered if there could be days when we wouldn’t have to put up with speed boats in the summer and snowmobiles in the winter all the time.  If there were a vote to have a quiet lake, it would lose.  But if 1/7th of the voters wanted some quiet, what about quieting one day?  That way the rest of the lake’s residents could know what quiet is.  All types get their fair due.

As is, our media and our democracy is used more on us than by us. 

Blue Dude responded:

Byrd (a pen name or stage name I use),

I appreciate your response and additional examples. That 1/7 th example is BRILLIANT.

I lived in New Zealand for a year back in the 90s. They have a wonderful system of proportional representation in their parliament.  MPs are elected by party to represent their respective districts, much as in our US House and Senate. But then they look at the total national vote by parties (they have several) and adjust the representation of the parties in the parliament to match the overall national proportion of party votes cast.  That way the individual district has it’s say via it’s prefered party choice, BUT the nation as a whole has representation according to the overall NATIONAL choice of parties / point of view. 

In the US it has been fairly often that the House has a Republican majority as elected by congressional district, when in fact the overall national vote has been significantly more in favor of Democrats. This is largely the result of gerrymandering which ought to be illegal… and even chrizchun values should recognize that practice as blatant cheating. Our system has several contradictions between the ideal concept of equality and equal representation vs. the reality. And these are buit into the system structurally… largely as a result of pandering to the slave states during the founding of the nation and writing of the Constitution. The electoral college is a vestige of that cave to the demands of the slave states, which is now working to the advantage of kakistocrats of MAGA and the long history of GOP dreams of authoritarian oligarchy, that are now being fullfilled by the bought and paid for Supreme Court. 

I constantly recommend that folks read Nancy Maclean’s book “Democracy In Chains” if they want to really understand what the game plan by the right wing is, how long it has been in play, and the lengths to which they have gone and are willing to continue to go to de-Democratize the United States.

And I responded:

Well put, Blue Dude.  It seems to me we have lost our belief and passion for equal worth, fair representation, and freedom from popes, kings, and corporations as ultimate rulers.  Half of those eligible to vote don’t.  The treasure of a secular, humanistic, self-run country is being lost to corporate media, bots, trolls, and such as the Federalist Society as we toy with an idiotic, iconoclastic, orange goofball, backed by mean-minded bullies pretending to be patriots.  We’re trite and tribal compared to the founders, a work in progress needing a resurgence of citizens.

He added:

The FCC is long overdue looking into Cable Company abuses including the inherent violations of (IMHO) forcing people to subsidize secular and religious propaganda that they find abhorant just in order to get simple basic news coverage from the networks of the subscribers’ choice. ACLU, FFRF, Consumer Protection Agencies, States Attorney Generals DO YOUR JOBS. Help stop those enabling the destruction of free choice by consumers regarding some of people’s most treasured values.

I answered:

Right.  They’re dealing to us rather than our dealing ours.  The package deal is a bad deal, propaganda-wise, when taken in toto.  I don’t like most Christian stations on cable, nor willy-nilly paying for them just to watch or listen to the few I do.  

You stated it well.

Rheabob chimed in:

That’s what you get when one party hijacks the tv and radio stations and too many dems vote with them for the last 40 years and don’t try and stop them. This didn’t happen overnight,and now we have to deal with a cult of dangerous idiots now that the programming of them is complete. So what that Reagon fucked us all.It’s been 40 years and nothing has changed and only getting worse. Why is that? Too many excuses and not enough action as to why a minority has held us hostage for all these years.

To which I replied: (Oops.  Sorry, I lost my answer.)

9-27-23 to Cleantechnica Michael Bernard on his predictions about rideables (scooters, etc.)

You’re a rare writer – admitting where you were wrong – an admirable trait.

I welcome the rideables. Most versatile around here are the single fat wheel skateboards. They even work for cross country and up hills.

We don’t always need 5000-pound easy chairs to get our butts across town. There will be more room for parking and less wasted pollution and money as we get vehicles tailored to the task.

He added:

Byrd, I agree. Progressives / Dems have always lost the messaging war. We have standards of courtesy, honesty etc. But in these times, I think we need to fight agressive messaging with aggressive responses and lay out our positions with unignorable aggressive messaging of our own to put the Make America Gone Again people on their heals.  Cult-think is hard to break through. MAGA is a cult. The GOP only exists on paper… maybe it’s time the handful of reasonable Rs admit where their party has gone and recognize the need to toss it into the trash bin of history.

And I replied:

Psychologists have identified disgust as a powerful emotion.  The GOP uses it to rally voters.  Their tactic is relentless ridicule.  They don’t have to supply which regulations are at issue, just that we resent them.  They don’t have to say why Hillary is corrupt and should be jailed, just the repeated accusation.  They don’t have to analyze why people are frustrated with their lives, just give them someone to hate.

Yet they smear shit on the walls of our hallowed hall and claim it is patriotism, resenting any repercussions from such crime.  They threaten with guns and gallows as if they’re defending themselves.  

The deplorables are disgusting.  Instead of shrinking from calling them that, Dems should tap into the realistic anxiety in our non-political countrypersons.  More people are fed up with the MAGA mentality than our media points out.  Courtesty and honesty are due to those who deserve it.  They’ve earned the disgust I hope becomes a trend, a successfully flipped tactic.

Reabob added:

It taps into peoples primal instincts,which isn’t good for a modern society which has taken a thousand or more years to form. And we’re seeing that it doesn’t take that long for a small group to destroy it.  Just like Hitler did in 1030’s Germany. Very scary. And our dem leaders are missing the point in many ways by not combating it headlong. This partisan shit is a waste of time when dealing with an extreme fringe group of senators, who should all be banned from the halls of congress immediately as a start.

I replied to him:

I was proud of the J-6 Committee, especially the two Republicans (whom I don’t agree with politically).  I follow Adam Kinzinger on X (formerly Twitter).  There are so many shallow insults tossed his way I have to wonder how many are from actual people and how many are generated by a bot program.  None of the complaints have substance.  They dwell on him crying or peeing with relentless obnoxiousness. 

The MAGA crowd is colorful, dramatic, threatening, and silly.  I suspect many Americans are sick of these sickos.  They need little old ladies to scold them.  Some Dems have bucked them, but they haven’t shown a corresponding audacity and leadership in boldly denouncing their fascist hype.   

You’re right, it’s like Germany in the 30s.  We once had “the greatest generation.”  Where’s Antifa when we need it?  Many Republicans can’t stand these creeps.  Time for them to scold their party or leave it. 

Reabob wrote “30s Germany”

Blue Dude responded:

I agree. The problem is we have half the Senate and half the House that would never expell the even the most egregious malefactors of their party.  Dems ejected Al Frankin for the flimsiest of improprieties; they are calling now for resignation of Menendez…. but the cabal of GQP miscreants are tolerated and even pampered even by the moderates who plainly see the damage they are doing to the nation and the peril that could ensue in the near future by their action. Frankly, the founding fathers never thought anything like this would happen in the way it is happening… and they did not envision FAKE News Network, Gagillionaire social media bosses spreading disinformation and propaganda to tens of millions instantaneously a dozen times a day, or a population armed to the teeth with modern weapons vastly different from the muskets they saught to protect via the 2nd ammendment.  Nor did they thoroughly think through the downside of the electoral college all too frequently electing presidents with far few popular votes than the “loser.” Nor the devistating effect of an insular SCOTUS with Zero checks and balances on their behavior…. WE’RE SCREWED.

Reabob added

Yep, I agree wholeheartedly. Our founding fathers society was far more respectful and being well read and educated was their main goal. If you were to start throwing insults then, you’d be drowned out by boos and asked to leave the chambers. Not now. These guys are unbelievable with what they get away with. It’s like romper room on steroids.

I added:

So, we agree with each other, and many readers of Daily KOS will understand.  But this is an echo chamber, a small one, the counterpart to what the MAGA folk are reading.  What I wonder is what the largely non-political Americans would think.  Would they agree with our concerns or chime in on more MAGA destructive foolishness?  Will the mainline media warn the public or just passively report? 

I feel sorry for those in MAGA Land who never hear anything but belligerent loudmouths.  Isolated from each other, intimidated by bullies, what does it take to counter growing, blatant fascism?  Republicans themselves are cowered or hyped on anti-wokism.  When will the decent ones, if there still are any, speak up and denounce the danger?  Is it as huge as it seems, or are the Tea Party types still on their successful rampage?  Perhaps the return of the comedians will help our country put this in perspective.  Some Dems are doing heroic work, but much more is needed.  

October

10-1-23 to Cleantechnica on Tracking systems for Floating Solar:

Perhaps simpler would be to use little electric propellers to rotate the whole floating platform to track the daily sun. Seasonal adjustments could be made by hand two or four times a year.

10-2-23 Reply to Sara Silverman tweet praising old Biden:

Sorry your post receives such idiotic, negative feedback. The trolls have only one agenda – unrelenting ridicule. They are the dupes of the Russians and the corporate agenda. They are ruining a once decent country. Joke ’em off the stage!

10-3-23 Comment on Dan Rather’s and ‘s Newsletter on Petulance over Patriotism:

What apt writing, Dan and Elliot!  These people have no intention of serving our society, democracy, government, or environment.  Rather, they’re the conniving, blatant enemies of all four.  Their use of the handles of power is to impede voting, mock the marginalized, favor further fossil fuel farting, and make a lying, brazen brag-fest of their persistent petulance, as if it’s patriotism.  Are enough Americans so crude, cruel, and cynical that they’d elect these embarrassing, dangerous fools again?  The legacy of this country and its effect in the world is too important to leave to these obstructing pretenders.  I hope your essay helps reawaken deep, passionate patriotism in our citizens. 

Same issue, to Pat Robertson, responding to comment that no Republicans have stood up:

To their credit, and I don’t agree with their politics, Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney have stood up to the fooled right, earning them much mockery.  (Mitt Romney almost did and Lindsay Graham once did, then rescinded.)  But also praise from others for these two daring to buck such daunting groupthink.  Now’s the time for decent Republicans to either reclaim their party or leave it.  “The party of Lincoln” ain’t what it used to be.

Pat Robinson responded:

Doesn’t it sadden you to know there were just two and apparently now there are none … not one elected Republican who stands for honesty and governing for the people or even stand up against the hatred so apparent in the House and that they seem to worship and adore the likes of Gaetz and Boebart…to me it’s really strange to have folks like them for role models for your children….to want your son to grow up to be just like Matt or you daughter to grow up to be just like Boebart. I want my grand kids to grow up to be like Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter.

My reply:

Yes, it does sadden me, Pat, and it rouses anger and disgust.  They parade the worst egotistic misbehaviors, then gloat about it.  They’re proud of being bad, smearing shit on walls of our hallowed house, bashing heads and then whining if they’re charged for it.  Such examples coupled to home schooling insures a whole new generation of antisocial behaviors, anti-civil civics.  They’re utterly win/lose in a country that was founded on win/win..  They’re using democracy to destroy it and take over.  When will more Americans and media reject such sick antics?

10-4-23 to Steve Hanley article on General Mark Milley, someone posted on Cleantechnica:

Another excellent article by Steve.
Unless the under 40 vote, we’ll keep having these problems.
With Chump up whether he wins the primary or not, Repubs are screwed.
If he wins, they lose as supporters are only 25% of the electorate.
If he loses or quits, his voters mostly stay home.
As for Under God, that was added in the 50s, not in the beginning.

·   5 0

Steve Hanley to freedomev

“Under God” was added during the Eisenhower administration as a sop to the Knights of Columbus. The Founders were deists — they believed in a Supreme Being but did not ascribe to any particular religion.

Robert Persig, author of Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance, once said, “When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kind of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.”

But Charles Schultz may have said it best: “The best theology is probably no theology; just love one another.”

freedomev  Steve Hanley

I’ve always been amazed at the things people will believe, do, to belong to the group, especially in religions and personality cults like MAGA/fascist/Nazis types. Luckily people like Milley stood in the breach.
Archie Bunker said, ‘Faith is when you believe in things no one in their right mind would!’ I don’t mind them believing such strange things, just not trying to rule others, me, by them who don’t.

super390 to  freedomev

I’m a cynic about such things, having been born and raised on US military bases overseas and only slowly learning how much Americans differ from their principles. Unlike tankies who automatically scream that Americans are thus uniquely evil, I tend to look to the universality of human evil.

I’ve finally come to think that these absurd beliefs are a product of the inability of human brains evolved around tiny hunter-gatherer bands to function in large societies. We did not evolve to trust strangers. The only ways in large societies to work with and around strangers are conformity, or tolerance. But on the macro scale we rely on both; lumps of those in competing belief systems, having to negotiate differences in values and meanings with each other. With the paranoia looming in the shadows that Those People are cheating you.

When things go bad, that paranoia supercharges a mania for conformity. I recall a study of religious extremists that concluded that members fear being suckers if they sacrifice for the group’s victory while their comrades don’t, so they must constantly reinforce each others’ certainty with displays of loyalty. You can see how this can escalate into cultism and violence.

My input:

The old cynical view of the universality of evil persists because our brains tend to remember hurt and proceed with wariness. While history is a parade of conflicts, there was prevailing peace at the same time, but it went unmentioned and forgotten.

Tragically, the tactic of unrelenting ridicule and hyped-up fear works, especially amplified by trolls, bots, and a dramatic media beholden to the rich. They’re playing our ordinary frustrations into votes for a messianic leader.

If democracy is an innocent reflection of the people, they’re dredging up the worst in us and inflicting it in a divided, dangerous way. The wiser ways and higher angels of our national character are being tested.

10-5-23 to Weather Prof on Pope Francis:

I rejected my Catholic religion at age 14. Now, at age 78, I say “God bless Pope Francis.” He is a rare and wonderful advocate for the poor and our injured environment. He is a brave and responsible religious leader. Using fossil fuels as they create havoc is a colossal sin.

Same day on Religious News Service, replying to someone who claims there is no proof of global warming, using the argument, “did humans cause the last ice age?”

Objective authorities understand how radically, and quickly fossil fuels have already warmed our environment and how catastrophic it would be to continue. Willfully ignorant people continue to deny this and pop up silly red herrings about the former ice ages.

As a former Catholic, I bless this pope. He is admirably bold and responsible.

10-7-23 to Cleantechnica Steve Hanley on Michael Mann’s take on Denialism:

Add D for Demeaning. Twitter (or X) responses to scientists like Mann (and to rebel Republicans like Adam Kinzinger) are frequently low-brain insults. While those who value rationality and argumentation see these demeaning jabs as weak or fallacious, other readers will see them as effectively winning the “argument.”

Add also Disseminate Disinformation. Rebuttals of global warming use scientific-looking graphs and isolated facts to keep the FUD flowing. Both types are so frequent I suspect they’re effective. Bots and trolls magnify such stupidity as if they’re winning a spitting contest. If fossil fuel interests are financing any of this, I hope they’re held financially liable for the worldwide damages.

As to whether individuals should be the responsible ones, sure, to some extent we should each do what we can individually do to lessen carbon. But we don’t have to be climate saints before we affect the cultural conversation and legislative agenda. That’s like saying we have to “work on ourselves” before trying in some arena. While some endlessly work on themselves, magats and fascists proceed to take over. We should do what we can both persons and as citizens.

Same day to Cleantechnica, this to an article by Steve Hanley on Michigan township possibly rejecting a new battery factory for anti-China reasons: 

Being from Michigan, I groan at the crudity and stupidity. Job loss to foreign places left empty, decrepit factories and towns. Know-how dwindled. Going electric would partially rebuild Michigan, yet silly anti-EV, anti-China antics could assure it stays poor and irrelevant. I’m hoping intelligent people will elect leaders and back corporations to prevent that, and instead be the innovators and practical builders who make Michigan proud again.

10-9-23 reply to Elon Musk tweet, “What would it take to beat hate?”:

Great question, Elon. I hope you can apply your wizardry to this question, not just promote your side or tribe. You’re smart and aspie, but I suspect you also care.

Same day to KOS on “Always blame the Left”

Who knew Siro Agnew’s “nattering nabobs of negativity” would become the main Republican tactic? 

10-11-23 reply to Fred Wellman tweet on George Santos:

That a known liar gave them their power shows their “integrity.”

Same day to Cleantechnica article by Steve Hanley on hottest month, Bill McKibben, and Pope Francis:

Much as I admire Bill McKibben, it is a mistake to say, “…the sun is overheating our planet.” It plays right into the trolls and bots who recently blame global heating on sun cycles.

Similarly, he mixes his metaphors: “At the same moment that the planet is starting to broil, the solar market is starting to cook.” Instead, “…starting to prevent it,” might have been better.

Finally, I credit the best pope we’ve ever had, but he’s up against a concerted effort in his church to counter his progressive advances. Steve Hanley writes, “Pope Francis ends with a pointed message for American bishops who too often have been in league with the climate deniers in the Republican party.” Sadly, too true.

I read a mostly Catholic newsletter on religion in general (Religious News Service) where willfully ignorant, stubbornly stupid, reactionary responses are rife in some Catholic circles. Fortunately, so are there rational and caring responses as well.

That Steve Bannon has parked himself just outside the Vatican to wield power against this pope and connive to pick his successor shows how prone many Catholics are to authoritarian and fascist leaders.

I hope Pope Francis is pivotal in Roman Catholic history. He rightly cares for both poor people and our planet. Best pope ever.

Same article, responding to Super390’s criticism of fascist tendencies in the Catholic religion and popes:

I left my Catholic church at age 14. While I have to agree with much of your criticism and warning here, I see progress in Pope Francis.

Although he most likely never read the sermons and letters I’ve sent to him (“An Atheist Embalmer Prays for the Pope,” “Being Religious,” etc., at earthlyreligion dot com) I suggested even if he stays with abortion as a mortal sin that he declare contraception and family planning as a venial sin. (Venial sins don’t send you to hell, if you believe in such rules.)

He’s stuck with a controlling tradition but he’s devising ways to liberalize it a bit. Women in clergy positions, gay unions as okay if not “marriage,” and bringing other worldly preoccupations down to this planet are all new (or revived) aspects in Catholicism.

10-13-23 to Cleantechnica on a huge passive building in Boston:

Passive principles have been present since Roman times when courtyards and trees were situated for summer cooling and winter sun, and they could and should always apply to any future building.

Wonderful though PV rooftops and windows are, passive principles should not be ignored.

I have a friend who built a thick-walled, triple-paned, temperature-conserving air-exchanging, PV-topped home that also powers his car. Year-round, the energy needed to run it is zero.

Structures needn’t achieve such a zero standard to make long-term economic and environmental advantage of sunlight, breeze, and shade simply by how they are built and situated. Such savings are part of a cleaner, more affordable, and abundant future.

Same day to an article on tracking, floating PV arrays:

Simpler than mechanical tracking might be large floating arrays that turn on the water to face the sun. Small electric trolling motors could do the daily work.

10-19-23 reply to Dan Rather short letter to Republicans

Just a few brave Republicans of integrity could help vote Jefferies in and end this chokehold on our government and society. They’d inherit flack now but be remembered as salvific in the long run.

Same day to KOS on same subject:

A few Republicans of integrity could vote in Jefferies and trip up this rolling nightmare.  They’d inherit guff now, but in the long run, they’d be honored as patriots.  They’d rise above being stubborn, wimpy party hacks. 

10=20-23 to Cleantechnica article on Heritage Foundation plans to take over:

If we claim to honor the Second Amendment, when comes the “well regulated” part?

10-22-23 to NextDoor Neighbor on unwanted pianos going to the dump:

Too bad Peter Spring passed away. He rescued many local pianos – and many from the New Orleans area, too. Decent dude.

10-24-23 reply to Kinzinger tweet claiming the Trump word will be like “Munsoned”:

Trump trumps trump. He’s ruined a good verb that used to mean, “a winning hand.” Now it means, “loser.”

To Daily KOS on sniping at Biden for walking on a beach:

Unrelenting ridicule is their tactic.  Stupid people respond to it.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of stupid people watching Fox and believing tweets aren’t generated by bots.  

10-26-23 to Cleantechnica on oil majors investing in more fossil fuel use:

California and related states are suing the ff companies, not for delivering their products, but for financing the lies that they don’t cause planetary overheating. Their tactics were similar to and worse than those of the tobacco industry earlier. They should be held financially liable for the troubles they knew they were causing and then lied about it. I applaud California, Oregon, etc. for their bold lawsuit.

What’s it going to take to deflate their lucrative toxic gas bubble? Will the Children of Kali have to rise up to counter the politicians and media who dither away our future? Similar sentiments appear in the comments here.

Same day reply to a post of a Trump ad by Tucker Carlson:

Tucker and Trump are unrelenting liars. MAGAs feel hated because they are so hateful.

To Capella University on the possibility of a Masters in Counseling for me:

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology/Philosophy from Oakland University (Rochester, Michigan) in 1969 and a Master’s of Divinity from the Meadville/Lombard Theological School, then located at the U. of Chicago.  I have 50 years of experience in the liberal ministry with ample interaction at various life points.  I’m retired, living on a fixed income just above the poverty level.  I have a long-held interest in counseling, including many years with Dr. Vasavada (who studied with Carl Jung and various gurus in India) and sporadic reading on CBT, Co-Counseling, and brain science advances.  What would be involved in seeking a Certificate and/or a Doctoral program towards credentialling in terms of hours expected (online and in person) and costs for each?  Thank you. 

(It came to nothing. Plus, I don’t have the money for tuition.)

10-27-23 to Religious News Service on Mike Johnson claiming his post is ordained by God:

If he’s ordained by God, so is AOC, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, etc.

10-29-23 to Cleantechnica Steve Hanley article on Cowboy Culture:

Insightful writing, Steve.

Cowboys have always been tough; recently, they’re shown as mean. Old country music wasn’t mean, nor are current cowboys and rural people all mean. It is insulting and misleading to assume they are.

We’re in cultural danger of ridiculing all empathy or any programs that benefit people in general as “socialist.” Key the knee-jerk reactionaries. Hateful people parade in the spotlight. Guns are brandished as thinly veiled but vague warning.

Republicans have weaponized brain psychology. They know people are frustrated and worried, so they exacerbate those low-brain functions as tactics, pitting one side of our society against the other. FDR gave us Social Security; Republicans give us anti-social insecurity.

As to cowboy images, I’ll go for Sheriff Longmire. He’s tough when he has to be, but only as tough as needed. He moves with respect and empathy. Hardly the sort of law man who would shoot an unarmed, innocent protester of Cop City fifty-seven times.

Will decent Americans denounce the growing threat of mean-minded fascism? I hope and vote so. Let the Longmires, Colberts, and Hanleys, etc., help wake us from the mounting malaise of murderous meanness.

November

11-2-23 reply to Ihan Ohar on U.S. funding of Israel as it bombs Palestine:

Worse than the personal slaughter of innocent Israelis is the impersonal slaughter of innocent Palestinians.

11-6-23 to Freedomev at Cleantechnica on battery fast charging and degrading:

I recently purchased a 2012 Mitsubishi MiEv with a degraded battery. The original 60 mile range had decreased to 30, sufficient for my around-town use. If I push it up a hill, it’ll go onto “turtle mode,” meaning it creeps slowly, but if it then goes downhill or I hit the brake, the turtle goes away. It also had the quirk that a supposed charge of 50 miles in the key “on” position, dropped inexplicably by 1/2 to 25 in the “start” position. I accepted this oddity. (I use my 110 V house current at 12 Amps; there is no CHAdeMO fast charge ability.)

However, to my surprise, by depleting the battery down to one- or two-miles charge left a few times, it charged to 50 miles and then didn’t drop! By driving gently in the Eco Mode, it has maintained that increased range. Perhaps the previous owner’s habit of always charging up after any trip set the battery memory off and my total discharge before charging revived it?

I like the car but wonder and worry some about the long-term reliability of the battery.


freedomev
  6 hours ago

Great news! Assuming it is getting up the hill better now, sounds like it worked. There has to be a MiEV group somewhere to join to help with future problems as by now someone has to have replaced the pack with something else.
And one can replace the cells with the same chemistry if one is handy. Find out what cells were used and maybe a modern one can just slip in.
I’d do full cycle it every few charge times for a couple months to see if more comes back or stronger getting up the hill, what you need. And charge to 95% regularly.

My reply:

Thanks, Freedom. Look like it’s hard to find recycled cells for the battery. I’m hoping in the long run some suitable, perhaps better, cells can be used. Mymiev.com has helpful info.

11-19-23 to Steve Hanley Cleantechnica article on fossil fuels killing us and stolen electioins:

We should also remember thousands of black voters’ names being purged from the rolls during the election, as reported then by journalist Greg Palest. https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/how-the-2000-election-in-florida-led-to-a-new-wave-of-voter-disenfranchisement/

All this as the media focused our attention of mere hanging chads and the Supreme Court hurried a decision in favor of Bush. I see this (and the Brooks Brothers near-riot by Enron-transported bullies harassing the vote count) as a crucial moment in the long-term successful coup by the right wing starting with the assassination of JFK.

Since then, Carter’s “Moral Equivalent of War” was forgotten and the burning of fossil fuels proceeded apace despite Exxon, etc., knowing how detrimental it would be and yet financed the denial industry to lie about it. We’ve been had, and the world will suffer for generations because of it.

Same forum:

I would add reading “Ministry For the Future,” a sci-fi novel addressing the horrid impending consequences and the difficult complexities of changing that. It opens with a heat death episode in India, bloated bodies of the dead floating in the lake that couldn’t cool them.

The Children of Kali then use drastic terrorist acts to change the foot-dragging that caused it. I wouldn’t endorse “the Children of Kali” sending drones into the jet engines of laggards attending COP 28, but at some point such drastic acts could start if governments and corporations don’t cooperate to quickly fix global overheating.

Shy of that, the recent advances in PV, Wind, EVs, most scientists, and various governments (India, China, California, etc.) and corporations doing what they can – are moving us in the right direction.

11-16-23 Reply to a Liz Cheney tweet:

Replies to your post prove that lots of people are just plain stubbornly stupid, defiantly ignorant, and willfully anti-American. We once fought a war to defeat fascism, but some now try to install it here. Liz and Adam are the only Republicans worthy of that heritage.

11-18-23 reply to Lix Cheney tweet showing J6 violence:

No matter the truth of this insurrectionist riot, idiot deniers, and anti-American fake “patriots” will deflect it and blame you instead. Such trolls and bots are the enemy of our society, government, and environment. Thank you and Adam (as Rs) and others (Dems) for trying! ????

11-19-23 reply tweet to Liz again, next day:

This X (Twitter) platform is a staging ground for numerous trolls and bots insulting you and trying to pretend the J6 Insurrection was the Committee’s doing. They’re Putin’s anti-American stooges pretending to be patriots. Deplorables! I’m proud of you!

11-21-23 comment on a Charles Eisenstein article on the JFK assassination cover up (https://charleseisenstein.substack.com/p/the-america-that-almost-was-and-yet-dea/):

Wow!  Thank you, Charles.  JFK’s and the other deaths seem to be “in your face” messages that a long-term coup is in place even as we try to work the levers of a democracy. 

Disdain him though I do, Trump at least tries to expose the “deep state.”  I gladly voted for Biden as “not Trump,” and I credit him for attempting to return manufacturing home, especially as with the IRA, but I hate his eagerness to wage wars.  All the wars of my country during my lifetime served only the weapons manufacturers and those who promoted them.   Poor hapless souls, here and there, suffer this persistent, stubborn mindset augmented by ever new weaponry. 

Julian Assange is guilty until proven innocent, effectively jailed without trial.  His “crime” was showing what is done in our name, despite our protests.  Meanwhile, the mass murderer Kissinger is coddled.

I share your outrage and sentiment about my America that almost was and yet may be.  We are worn into defeated passivity by cynical paranoia, inured to the opportunity and responsibility of running our country in a live-and-let-live way. 

So, I don’t say, “Thank you for your service” to vets.  I appreciate their loyalty and sacrifice, but the phrase applies even better to the ACLU, the protesters, and the intelligent, caring people such as yourself who try to address this draining, daunting, challenge.  We need each other, the Johnny Appleseeds and Steven Colberts who aren’t dumbfounded by greed, murder, and colonialism.  

11-29-23 to Religious News Service on war on Gaza:

I avoided Vietnam. As an embalmer, I feared I would be assigned to putting bodies and parts of bodies in bags. Or perhaps I’d be injured or killed. Worse, I dreaded the having to kill innocents or even soldiers defending their country. I want to live by ahimsa (non-injuring). I don’t want the ghosts of the dead to haunt my life.

In Hindu scripture Krishna advises Arjuna on how to fight his cousins in a war – with detachment. Such detachment is a rationalized excuse I’d rather not adopt. It slips into the joy of killing, self-righteous zealotry.

I grieve for the Israelis, the Palestinians, the Ukrainians, the Russians. The knot and rot of war is being pushed lately worldwide. Glory becomes gory. Worry and revenge morph into regret and grief.

The wise and ethical abhorrence of war after Vietnam slipped away from our conscience in the U.S. in Granada, Panama, the Gulf wars, etc., all wasteful tragedies affecting mostly hapless innocents. Read Chris Hedges, one of the few to look into the horror of war and try to warn us. Steve Bannon? Not so much.


That’s it, readers. If you read this far, congratulations! And thanks. As always, your comments here are welcome.

Byron has been using his writing and public speaking to engage, challenge and inspire audiences for over 40 years. Reverend Carrier's mission is to rescue and revive our earthly Eden, including our human worth and potential. If you enjoy his work, consider supporting him with Patreon.

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Teja Ray
Teja Ray
2 months ago

Nice essay at the top, Byron Bradley!
{I don’t have the brain capacity to read the Fall online postings}
Love your cute new vehicle, I hope those batteries keep working for you!
I really like what Emerson said, “Always a seer is a sayer.”
Keep up your good work as a seer and sayer….
Happy December!

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