OCCASIONAL POSTINGS FROM THE MOTHER SHIP
Well, I missed my own anniversary, which was Earth Day, April 22 2019. So it’s been two years since I launched disconnex.com. It was never my intention to blog in any sort of regular way, I am not a political junkie and I don’t have a lot to contribute on a day to day basis that isn’t being said better by smarter people. My main contribution to the noise out there is the perspective I have laid out in these pages. As for what’s changed in two years, well I do try to track the stories I find compelling on my Facebook adjunct disconnexnewsfeed, in order to curate the barrage of news stories and opinions into a coherent narrative.
I am so fucking sick of hearing democrats call the Republicans "heartless" when critiquing bad policy. Call it what it is: bad policy, immoral and indefensible. We don't need government that is nice and cuddly, we need government that responds to realistic problems with clarity of mind and efficient solutions. Stop bringing emotion into the discussion. Health care is a mess and it should be corrected, regulation is not an inconvenience that is crushing job growth, it is a necessary hinderance to blatant desecration of our common health and heritage. The very purpose of government is to stand in opposition to the private sector's rapacious urges and manage the capitalist impulse, and thereby facilitating a livable society for the majority of law-abiding citizens. Government is not designed to provide pay-back for corporate donors nor a system that enables profiteers to run rampant. How could the common man support a predatory system that benefits a small minority of people? Only if they are being lied to. All arguments put forth by Democrats must appeal to a civic-minded, fact-based construct. If the Republicans can argue their cause within the same structure without lying then let us hear their argument. In short, health care is not a "right"—health care is the very reason we have a society of cooperating individuals engaged in a social contract to keep people in good physical and mental health. Government's purpose is to create a framework so a society can function without rampant violence, decay, pollution and constant danger. The very existence of government is to uphold these pillars of society, to make a livable community for the most amount of people. Now, what if we were to define society as a structure designed to make the most amount of people live in fear of pollution, crime, corporate predators, lies from the media, hysterical commercialization, credit card scams, bank scams, blatant lies in advertising, low paying jobs, food deserts, bad insurance, and so on. Would you call that "heartless"? I would call it unsustainable, corrupt and immoral. The Republicans of 2017 use emotion to win arguments, that is all they have. The Democrats should wield righteous, clear, sensible arguments. We all know the conventional wisdom that emotion wins out in the short term, but consider the emotion of standing on principal, that used to count for something.
Listen up people, you had your fun. You either see Trump as a despicable narcissist, a petulant child, or an iconoclast shaking things up. We seem to endlessly speak about his campaign promises and his base, the 35% of Americans who revel in his mud-slinging. We wring hands over the destruction of the Republican Party, or the descent into a frothing racist pussy-grabbing underbelly of the formally marginalized. Endless talk of the bubble and the division between parties, the breakdown of language, the elimination of truth... But what about the policy? That is in the end all that matters.
Yesterday our so-called-president tweeted that Transgender folks were no longer allowed to serve in the military. There was no explanation, no study, no press release. The papers today called it "cruel". They call the health care debacle "cruel". I reject that characterization. I believe "cruel" allows for the strength of the perpetrator. I do not wish to grant him that strength. These craven narcissistic jack-asses are pathetic cowards who wield their administrative power with the grace of a wrecking ball. They are so disconnected from the effect of their actions and blinded by the sycophants that surround them (sycophant: a person who acts obsequiously toward someone important in order to gain advantage.) that they have lost even the ability to defend their actions: "We are doing this because we promised to" is the best they can come up with. These people are not doing their jobs. They are free loaders, obstructionists, con-artists. Hey, I get that there is a "small government" conservative perspective, and I have no desire for a big, bloated self-perpetuating bureaucratic monolith running Washington, but right/left points-of-view are no longer in play here anymore. If it were, there would be debate in the Senate, robust debate to find the best solutions through compromise and negotiation. But that is long gone. There are people in power who have forgotten the mission, don't even care to pretend any more. They are so partisan they don't remember what their arguments were: Mitch McConnel admitted coal was never coming back for economic reasons, but damn, he's still fighting against anything that would replace coal. These folks want to repeal Obamacare with no clue what they would replace it with. It is partisanship in its purest form, devoid of any substance or solutions for the society they are supposed to be governing. And their supporters? Same thing. No end game, just destroy "the other side". Oh and then there is Donald Trump, who says the Russian Probe is the "Greatest Witch Hunt Ever perpetrated on a President". Wow, tell that to the immigrants whose families were torn apart by his witch hunt policies, tell that to the Trannies who are going to be hunted out of the Military, tell that to the blacks, the gays, the latinos, the Muslims, the"leakers," the journalists; tell that to the Intelligence community, to Comey and to Jeff Session (!) — I'd say they all know a thing about Witch Hunts, Donny. "Cruel." Don't even. These guys are pathetic. Graceless, immoral, smug, spineless cowards. All they know are witch hunts.
Interview with Sebastian Junger has been posted. My mission is to speak with characters that break the partisan mold. I fantasize about right-leaning people watching a disconnex video or reading one of our pages and thinking "yeah, cool, right"... I resent that the national mood has been placed in the hands of Hucksters like Sean Hannity— imagine an influential figure like that advocating for cooperation, compromise and a sensible way forward. As I write this I understand the operative word here is "sensible" but, dear reader, it is no trap, I refer you back to my original assertion that while life is subjective for sure, in matters of public policy we have to allow a definition that speaks of sustainability. And we have experts to help us ascertain what is sustainable...
Let me say that somehow I doubt Ossoff will win in Georgia. I would love to be wrong. But beyond the race, I find it so disheartening what the race indicates about our politics. Because I am on a lot of democrat's e-mail lists, I have a first hand view of the shrill tactics used to coerce money from alarmed liberals glued to their keyboards. Here is a sampling of the headlines and content of the e-mails that lead into a plea for money: “Catastrophe” “Disaster” “Disgusting” “Insulted” “I am pleading” “Do Not Delete” “No One Saw This Coming” “We’re panicking” "Massive Loss" "Crushing Loss" "State of Emergency" "All hope Lost" "Kiss all Hope Goodbye" "pack up. go home. it’s done." "nothing left. give up." as well as the standard "they have out-spent us" or "contribute before midnight so we can achieve our goal", etc. How does any of this build good governance? This approach reenforces a narrative of our democracy as a money-driven enterprise in which the team with the biggest coffers wins. It presents a persona of the democratic party as frightened, alarmed, defeated. Nowhere in these e-mails is there a description of Osoff's policies, we are asked to take it at face value that we are hoping for a win to hurt Trump's feelings. This perpetuates the cult of personality that started this political death spiral. Meanwhile, while the democrats are reactionary whiners, the right wing gleefully reports that they have turned the term "fake news" against the left and that the liberals are hysterical, intolerant, violent, anti-free speech—a preposterous characterization that is gaining traction, because if there's one thing the right can do it is control the message. How can the perpetrators of "Pizzagate" and "Sandy Hook truthers" gain the upper hand in a war of ideas? If there is no message from progressives other than Trump is bad and give us money, it aint gonna be that hard.
Trump crosses a line. Rejects Paris agreement, rejects science, rejects cooperation. They are laughing at you Donald. You are pathetic. Hope his base can sustain him. All for the base. Ahhh the base. You mean the throat cutters in Portland. Hope they are happy. More throat cutting. Onwards into Trump's future. Syria and Nicaragua. Fantastic. Trump is a whupped dog, a mocked, humiliated individual, a debased, foolish man. And he is dangerous. Let's see this play out. But make no mistake, the entire Republican Party and media and monied apparatus stands behind him. This is their decision, and America will stumble with their full throated support. America 5th! Nature abhors a vacuum, Don. You have just handed The EU, China and India moral authority in the world and a path forward to international domination. They are laughing at you, true dat.
Regarding the endless drumbeat of the media against the White House and the hysteria over Russian ties to the Trump administration, let us say that the media may be be piling on, but the White House is making it pretty easy. Does anyone think the right-wing media didn't want to ensnare Obama in scandal? They simply didn't have the ammo. Though they never stopped harping on Benghazi and the Clinton e-mails. Amazing to see Fox news reporting on obscure stories rather than the current mayhem; they are literally trying to change the subject. I would say what is at issue is Trump's lack of engagement in the issues, the distractions he is causing and the intransigence of his supporters and the craven double standards of the GOP. It remains to be seen how much chaos Trump can generate before those on the right bail: they "just can't quit him."
Regarding the Comey firing, I would like to accept for the sake of argument that Rod J. Rosenstein came into office end of April and did his homework and came to the startling conclusion that Comey had been inappropriate in his handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail debacle. Let's take that at face value, and accept further that Sessions who is supposed to be recused on matters of the election, has every right to step in and pass Rosenstein's letter to Trump which lead to Trump's decisive action. Ok, fine. Now, without delay, to show non-partisan response it only seems appropriate to appoint an independent prosecutor. How could it make any sense that Trump should appoint his own investigator. That is objectively absurd, surely. As for Kellyanne's eye-rolling "Russia, Russia, Russia" she is merely dog whistling to the Republican base who somehow have learned to love the Russians in the last six months and couldn't care less how their boy got elected. Meanwhile, Trump's policies continue to place America in jeopardy while the public obsess over his erratic behavior: healthcare, climate change, infrastructure, immigration, national security, these are the matters that need addressing. Oh, and Donald, thanks for clarifying in your letter to Comey that you weren't being investigated by him (three times!). Trump supporters, that's a relief to hear.
I decided to go public with the site last night after the healthcare vote got me riled up. I know there's a lot of refining to do here but thought I'd throw my hat in the ring. If you check back in periodically I hope to have more videos, maybe some interviews, better content (I could get some others to write stuff), or maybe I'll go back to making horror movies.
So there is a tussle over at the New York Times because they hired a conservative op-ed columnist named Bret Stephens who is a Climate Skeptic. His first column was a typical eye-rolling and condescending piece of writing in the tradition Bjorn Lomborg (The Skeptical Environmentalist). As with Bjorn, Stephens assures us he is not a denier but worries about the poor and our ability to pay for any immediate action on climate ("immediate" means now, 29 years after the problem was first presented to the US Congress). The op-ed piece offers a perfect opportunity to respond to the tepid arguments of so-called thoughtful conservatives on the issue. He also makes the correlation that since polls mis-predicted Hillary Clinton's win in the 2016 election, scientific prediction is therefor untrustworthy. WOW. That's a stretch. Telling that he conflates opinions with facts. Sounds like just a bunch of sore-winner talk (though to be fair the ever sensible Stephens is no fan of Trump.) The response to the column is what this dispatch is about, however: the beloved Climate Scientist James Hansen who has fought tirelessly for decades to bring America to its senses on climate, asked readers to drop their subscription to the NYT in protest, siting the editor's defense of Stephens and his characterization of Climate as a "left-leaning" issue. I agree that this is despicable, and as a life-long reader of the Times, I am so annoyed by all this. However, I say let Stephens publish his tripe and let clear minds respond: the thinness of his arguments, the bias and smugness of his position, let it be on full display for readers to respond (and respond they did; Stephens' follow-up column published 4/2/17 is a rebuttal to the comments section of his first post, and in my opinion only further exposes his facetious position: he sights the misguided support of Ethanol as a reason there's nothing we can possibly do to combat Fossil Fuel production. He doesn't note that Solar and Wind are the fastest growing part of the energy sector...). In my opinion the real story is the call to boycott the Times, like the call to shut down Conservative speakers at Universities (most recently Ann Coulter and Milo What's-his-name). I say let them speak. Let the left sharpen their arguments. Let this debate happen in plain site. Stop trying to shut out the other side. In fact, try to understand the opposition and even find common ground (yes you read that correctly). That is not to say acquiesce to falsehoods and bad arguments, but instead, listen politely and call out the hypocrisy with guts and brains. As for the Times, Fox News, MSNBC, NPR, Democracy Now! — all are biased in one direction or another; each will sink or swim on its own merits and integrity if readers are vigilant and informed. If you have been an environmentalist for any length of time, you already know the heartbreak of having your perspective shut out of public discourse on both sides of politics (presidential debates anyone?) because you know what—? Nature doesn't vote, and she doesn't get ratings, but she does have the final say.
EARTH DAY 22 APRIL 2017
And so it begins. I am launching DISCONNEX before it is done because it will never be done. But the time is now to share and to continue to develop ideas that articulate a way forward in this tumultuous world. I make no claim to being smarter or more informed than anyone else, but I am compelled to try to make sense of the world as an artist and as a citizen and to share the insights I have with those who might be inclined to ponder yet another perspective in the cacophony of ideas that make up our media-drenched culture.