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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Inaugural Thoughts



    Something is different about this country. Far different than things were even last week. You can feel it in the air wherever you go--The American Summer is out of reach, replaced by decided dread and a new sense of Winter in America unseen since maybe the ascension of 'doughface' James Buchanan to the Presidency in 1857. Buchanan's Presidency was the final mile marker on the road to the Civil War. Given the recent escalations between the United States and such adversaries as North Korea and Russia, a Trump Presidency could prove the final mile marker on the road to a Nuclear Holocaust, if not the outright precipitator of such. The crisis the country faces in the wake of a Trump installment is more than just of a physical nature, though. What we face moreover is an existential crisis. All of this serves to tear asunder America's moral fabric, with the wholesale vindication of Trump's brand of racially and sexually-tinged politicking. Morality, when lost, doesn't easily return, barring a complete return to Christian principle and a turn from the wayward darkness. I had the idea we deserved a Trump Presidency for a while, but I had hoped it could be avoided(in spite of some of my years-ago puffery of him and his prospects). "Heart of Stone," the Rolling Stones song that introduced him at Inauguration Eve festivities, has it completely right in numerous ways.

Better listen little girl, if you going walking down the street
I ain't got no love, I ain't the kind to meet
'Cause you'll never break, never break, never break, never break
This heart of stone, oh no, no, you'll never break this heart of stone darling


    A few thoughts on the style and substance of Venerable Donald's inaugural address. First, brevity, something of which VD is not known, was probably the biggest, most unsung aspect of his inaugural address. His speeches from the campaign generally went on at least 45 minutes, sometimes all the way to an hour-and-a-half. Gracefulness, an even rarer instance for him, is even present, as he thanks all the former Presidents, First Ladies, and Vice Presidents for both their help and their presence at this historic moment. To the substance, the allusion drawn of "this American carnage" was the bracing moment everyone says it was, but even within the campaign-esque tome, he drew many parallels and stated as true many pillars of Conservative orthodoxy. There was even a part of this Conservatively-minded person who began to wonder if maybe he'd gotten Trump wrong.

    It was upon even the shallow reflection that precedes anything of depth in thought that I realized I had not. To the contrary, the other comment he made, one that got scant airplay beyond the first run of the address, about bringing the government's power back to the people was more than somewhat chilling--It created the allusion of a mobocracy, mob rule in America. Considering how given his online army of armchair warriors are to rather detailed threats of violence, the image of our country being ruled by them and the children who are taking after them as we speak is an especially horrid, almost sci-fi worthy consideration. A true harbinger of things to come in America's losing fight for decency and morals.

    However, in the spirit of finding good things to say about VD's inaugural address, I have a couple of points I can reasonably add to the discussion: Unlike his previous campaign patter, the beginning and the end of this speech did not boil down to "I will be so great. So great! Believe me, folks. Believe me." His speech also, in sticking tightly to the script of his previous campaign yells, showcases perhaps the most telling thing of all about our new President: That he is more a reflexive one-trick pony than any sort of a calculating and thought-out fascist who wants to bring back the gulags and the rack. He is a real 'threatener-in-chief,' but, as people are oft to say, also perhaps 'all bark, no bite.' He sees a need to make a show--it is intrinsic to his purported 'brand'--of things, yet, as official records of his lawsuits show, he is more than happy to settle things. One could even call it "The Art of the Deal." Trump certainly does--The book of the same name, to say nothing of the very vague and general concept of deal-making, was a cornerstone of his campaign when he wasn't harassing female reporters from his on-stage perch. Russian Premier Vladimir Putin knows this, he is no dummy. It explains why he has taken a special liking to VD. Putin knows he is a big talker and not much of a deliverer in any great way. They can make deals together, much to Russia's potential benefit.


    Also of note, Saturday Afternoon, the Waffling House's Stool Pigeon, Sean Spicer, went into one of his anti-media riffs in full view of television cameras. While rightfully blasting lazy reporting regarding the spat over the statuette of the late Reverend and Civil Rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr.(reported to the exclusion of the return of the Winston Churchill statuette, sent away on the advent of Obama's first inaugural), he took it more than over the top with his lambasting of reporting of the crowd sizes at the Trump inaugural ceremonies(sizes corroborated by, among other sources, the President's own Secret Service detail). In essence, open warfare has been declared on the press by the new administration. I suppose I should be glad he didn't go full-bore thug and threaten to eject reporters who asked him questions, with the big caveat being that he, in a break from past tradition, didn't stay for any questioning whatsoever. Transparency in government is dead, if these events are even a small fraction of what they seem.

    Personally, in a way, I hope VD DOESN'T retain a travelling press pool over the next four years. I cannot imagine what people who do on-the-ground reports of him have to put themselves through in order to be labelled by large swaths of the population as biased hacks deserving of a sturdy raping. As much as I really like NBC reporter Katy Tur, I could not bear to watch her or her fellow 'Road Warriors' report on this past campaign, for the simple reason that I cannot bear to see people get shoved through a meat grinder on an hour-to-hour, day-to-day basis. And to what outcome is all this ultimately undertaken? VD gets elected in large part to specifically spite the vigilant reporting of these fine people. It's an awful reality, a reality which the odious Stool Pigeon has made clear will continue. Are they still news reporters or are they now fighting as soldiers in a war against a newly-installed Lie Regime? Time is already telling, just one day into the first four year term(his prospective 2020 re-election remains to be seen), and what it's saying should right now be paid proper heed.

    Besides, to the extent that media bias is a real thing, as opposed to merely chasing after dollars and ratings, I should imagine that thinking people wouldn't want the charge of 'media bias' to go the way of 'bigotry' into being a charge that signifies utter nothingness. Bigotry is a real thing, but people will pay it no mind as a result of how Liberals characterize anyone who ever had a not adulatory thing to say about either Obama or Hillary Clinton. Unlike with Obama, though, Trump has neither the personal charm nor popularity to convince people that he and his surrogates have got this one down. Fully 40% of America gives Trump favorable ratings(around 54%, the same percentage who voted against him, do not), according to at least two reputable national polls, and those people will apparently believe anything. Roughly the same number, when polled, said they favoured bombing the fictitious city from the children's-oriented movie "Aladdin." Fake news, to say nothing of at best sub-par education systems, presents a real problem, but not in anywhere close to the way that certain specific paid shills make it out to be.

    So now, the question must be posed: What is to become of the media bias charge, post-Trump? Lots of people believe the concept to be true to some extent, but its true sting is about to be lost with the over-saturation just within the first day. Perhaps a few more gullibles can be conned before the fallout begins, and maybe that's the intention. To be fair, any short term gains in these matters may belie long term disaster, so they should neither be content with the current order of things nor act entitled to things continuing as they are. Entitlement is contented greed, and greed is downfall.


    To the average Trump supporter(I distinguish them from the fanatics), I say this: I hope he's as good as you hope he will be. I hope he achieves good things for the nation, even though I may not share your optimism. As the old adage goes, and it has been said numerous times, "time will tell," and it really will. Seriously, who would have ever thought, even a year ago, that I would pine for the Obama years after his leaving office. Pining for the relative grace and dignity with which he and his family held themselves while occupying the Oval Office, for the comparative, yet still not absolute, decency with which he handled opponents of him, his policies, and his view of the world. A Trump presidency should be treated as a grave threat to the wholly Christian principles of decency and morality that bind us all, the Constitution, and the fabric of the republic to which it stands.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Energy Policy, and Why Going All in With Ethanol is Not a Realistic Long-Term Solution



    Some random thoughts occurred to me as I was driving home from my regular Thursday night dinner at Bojangles(I always do the Egg & Cheese biscuit and small Diet Dew, myself), particularly as I passed the new Exxon petrol station. I first considered the new jobs that had just been brought into this very rural area and what a boon to whatever constitutes an economy this must be for them. Somehow, my mind hopscotched over to the matter of the different grades of gasoline used by these petrol stations and, eventually, the sustainability of America's current course regarding energy and reliance upon foreign oil exports. Gave a thought to one of the leading renewable energy solutions, and then came to what seems like should be fairly obvious conclusions regarding its feasibility.

    One of the more prominent 'green energy' solutions that's at the forefront of the renewable energy debate is that of Ethanol, the corn-based fuel which people are looking at as a substitute for foreign-exported Carbon gasoline. Based in plants as it is, it certainly makes for an interesting, quite well renewable source for fuel. By most accounts, it is past time for us to find a new solution to our fuel needs, as the current status quo does not provide a reliable, sustainable path into the future. Just as it is said in the Bible that man cannot live on bread alone, it is also true that the environment cannot survive on carbon gasoline alone, especially as it regards those oils purchased from shady(to put it quite mildly) Arab governments. As we are now living in an age where "bomb the oil" and "take the oil" constitutes key tenants of American foreign policy, continued reliance on foreign exports could result in massive price spikes and stock cratering. It is high time we consider a new course.

    That said, what the green energy people fail to account for regarding mass consumption of Ethanol hides in plain view--The weather. This is an easy one for me, as we here in the Southeastern United States have undergone a severely crop-damaging drought(to say nothing of the wildfires) within the past year. Given that Ethanol is created from corn crops, the supply is easily limitable given any manner of weather confections, including that of a protracted lack of rain. To combat this, the mass market producers of the corn would have to infuse their crops with GMO's and various turbo fertilizers, to say nothing of pesticide usage, things that are already done to a certain extent to ensure that the crops make it to market at their due times. Now, this runs into serious headwinds when you consider how the green energy, clean living people have striven to rid crop and food yield of the dreaded GMO's, pesticides, and turbolizers in favour of more natural-based ways. It would seem that somewhere along the line, serious compromises will need to be made in order to bridge the divides and create a sustainable framework for Ethanol production if this is, in fact, a way for the future.

    Also damaging to the corn crops necessary to produce Ethanol is another unusual-seeming suspect--Heavy rains. "When it rains, it pours," the old adage says, and this is never truer than after a long dry stretch. While the rain does a good service in the middle and longer runs, the short term can oversee some rather dramatic consequences. Sudden infusions of rainwater can flood and drown crops and plants, and flash flooding can uproot and sweep away all the crop yields. Flooding can also render soils otherwise non-conducive to crop/plant growth by sopping up water upwards of a half-foot (perhaps even greater, depending upon precipitation amounts) below the surface. This also ties into one of Ethanol's most pressing drawbacks--That it absorbs water at rapid rates, which makes contamination of fuel product easy and transportation through pipe-lining a difficult matter. And just imagine if one of the pipelines burst, as has been known to happen from time to time. That would make for an environmental disaster certainly without any precedent in the modern era.

    Probably the most controversial consideration that has to be given in these discussions is the matter of our much bemoaned of late free trade agreements. Were we to engage in the mining of natural resources(such as those in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) or in the drilling of oil(offshore and onshore) and shale fields, North American trading partners in the US, Mexico, Canada, and also in the Caribbean Isles would need to meet up and consult with each other on these matters as per NAAEC(North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation), a major component of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Given the proximity of the offshore oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico to the Southern continent of America, perhaps a sort of 'SAFTA'(Southern American version of NAFTA, of course, which is not to be confused with the South Asian free trade organisation--Perhaps call it SAFTO?) will need to be assembled to broker fair deals and come to needed consensus on the matters of usage and appropriation of resources.

    The consideration of renewable energy solutions, given the increasingly unsustainable path, is a must for any serious consideration of America's and the world's future. Wind, solar, water, natural gas, offshore drilling of oil, and even Ethanol solutions, among the myriad other proposals, should be given fullest consideration as we collectively approach a moment of reckoning regarding our reliance upon foreign oils. Not even giving thought to the problem risks our standing as an example to other countries in the world, and that's just the least of the problems we could face.