Video: The Continually Escalating Anti-LGBT Rhetoric

Jessie Gender is a good source of information on trans issues and Star Trek. She has done a number of deep dives into the propaganda and misinformation surrounding trans people and the movement for trans rights, and this video is no exception. The United States (and that country is not alone) is currently in the midst of a murderous campaign to erase queer people from existence. Obviously, I think there’s validity in pointing to hypocrisy, inconsistency, and projection from conservatives, but it’s far more important that those of us who support trans rights understand what’s happening. The violence we’ve seen is the goal of this rhetoric.

This will not go away by itself. Genocide is the right word for this project. The goal here is exterminationist mass murder, and it’s up to us to stand up to the fascists, and to take away their power to do what they’re doing. This video is a good breakdown of the whole situation, in my view, and worth your time.

Video: Beau of the Fifth Column on why it’s important to understand US capabilities

I am generally of the opinion that it’s good to have an accurate understanding of the world, whether or not that understanding is uplifting or encouraging. If the situation is bad, that’s not great, but pretending it’s better than it is doesn’t seem like a good way to get to a better situation. While I don’t think that war is a good response to it, the U.S. empire is a problem, and a lot of that has to do with the primary tool of that empire – its armed forces. The unfortunate reality is that the U.S. has actually been getting something for the trillions it has spent on its capacity to wage war. Anyone who wants the kind of global change that we here at Oceanoxia are seeking, will need to consider that.

Absurdities, atrocities, and the murder-clowns of fascism

The fact that I’m writing this is, in itself, evidence that things are not going well in the United States. Nick Fuentes is a despicable fascist weirdo who, ideally, none of you would ever have heard about. He’s a holocaust denier, a white supremacist, calls openly for dictatorship, all that jazz. I’ve been aware of him for a while because a few youtubers I follow have talked about him on occasion, but he never seemed worth my writing about. In most ways, he’s still not worth writing about, except for the fact that he’s managed to attach himself to someone far more famous.

I think one thing I never realized about fascist leaders, growing up, was how deeply strange they all are. I suppose that’s partly my fault, given that they’re famous for murdering people over absurd lies, but I think some of it also has to do with the mythologizing of Nazis in U.S. media. They’re portrayed as relentlessly competent, caring only about efficiency and results, capable of great feats of engineering and blah blah blah. The reality is that many of their so-called accomplishments were little more than propaganda. The Autobahn, for example, existed before Hitler rose to power, and he just claimed credit for it.

If I had to guess why this propaganda persists in our society, I’d say it’s probably because of how close fascism is to capitalism in general, and neoliberalism in particular. I might have felt a need to explain that statement a decade ago, but now I feel I can just point to the GOP. They’re not much different from how they’ve been for my whole life, which is why they’ve been able to go so far, with so much support. Likewise, the Democrats aren’t much different from the Republicans, with their efforts to create the mass incarceration crisis, their opposition to universal healthcare, and their habit of going far harder against the left than the right. And that’s ignoring the decades of U.S. support for fascism abroad.

There’s just a little too much coziness there for anyone in power to want the public to have a clear idea who and what fascists are.

For those who are somehow unaware, Kanye West has started openly peddling anti-Semitic and other right-wing propaganda, and in turn has been warmly embraced by a succession of odious people. The two most recent are Milo Yiannopolis (also a fascist – has been filmed singing with saluting neo-Nazis, had a password referring to The Night of the Long Knives, and the list goes on), and Nick Fuentes.

The three of them just had dinner with Donald Trump, and while it apparently didn’t go well, Trump was supposedly very impressed with Fuentes. To me, that means that we’re likely to see more of that piece of shit, so it’s worth knowing who he is. I’m sharing two videos today, because I don’t particularly want to write about him, specifically, again. I feel that these do a good job of covering who he is, who he appeals to, and why it’s not good to have him closer to the halls of power.

I have a bit of a confession to make. During my time as a lurker around the periphery of the New Atheist movement, I frequently heard a Voltaire quote – perhaps you’re familiar:

Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.

Until the last few years, I didn’t really get that. I knew that a great many horrible acts had been committed in the name of beliefs I considered absurd, but the same is true of good acts. I still think society would be better if religion was entirely removed from governance, but I think I now have a more complete idea of what that quote’s about. Fascism arose from liberal democracy, and both systems came centuries after Voltaire, but looking at what they believe right at this moment, I’ve gotten a bit more perspective on the scale of absurdity that’s available. These are deeply silly people, who will happily justify torture, murder, terrorism, and genocide.

Fascists are the killer clowns that keep showing up in pop culture. I don’t like the trope, because I’ve known a number of professional clowns in my life, and they’ve all been wonderful people, but I think it’s the best illustration of the problem. Trump, Fuentes, Yiannapolis, Kanye – fascists, including their leaders, tend to be deeply ridiculous people. In some ways, that’s their superpower, not just because it means they’re not taken seriously at first, but also because they seem to be fueled by humiliation. They attract ridicule to themselves like flies to a pile of shit, and they can’t handle even the smallest amount of it. They cannot function in a world where people make fun of them, so they want to murder everyone who does, rather than considering why they might come across that way.

They believe absurdities – more and more of them every year, it seems – and based on those absurdities, they want to murder or enslave most of humanity. As with everything else they do, it might be funny, if our political and economic system didn’t keep giving these people the power to ruin lives.

I don’t think Kanye will ever be president, but this does seem like a way into more “mainstream” politics for those who’ve attached themselves to him, as someone who will reliably get press attention. The GOP’s big divide isn’t between fascism and fash-adjacent neoliberalism, but between which brand of fascism they think will get them into power. By all accounts, Trump loves sycophants, and that seems to be consistent among authoritarians. For those of you who knew nothing about this douchebag when you started reading this post, I’m sorry to have inflicted him upon you. Unfortunately, it’s likely that he and other bozos like him will remain a mutual affliction for as long as fascism is viable in the United States.

 

“When a movement is selling an image of exceptionalism and strength, their design is to attract patrons who are unexceptional and weak.”

A video and some thoughts on propaganda

Whenever anyone starts discussing the accomplishments of communist governments, someone is likely to pop up to point out that those governments are authoritarian. The example I see most often is that someone on the left will point to Cuba’s high literacy rate, and the rebuttal is to say that that was just part of their efforts to propagandize the population. Now, I’m far from an expert on Cuba, but this is one of those subjects where I actually have at least a little relevant experience.

In 2001, I was invited to be a travelling companion for a friend who felt called to visit the Cuban Quaker community. New England Yearly Meeting, to which we belonged, has a sister relationship with Cuba Yearly Meeting, and exchanging visitors is fairly common, though the ability to do it has varied depending on the whims of politicians. At that time, I spoke effectively no Spanish, and didn’t really have the time or inclination to learn. That was, in hindsight, rather bad manners, but I was going there to keep my friend company, and she had actually been studying the language.

It was an interesting trip, but the thing I want to focus on here is Cuban propaganda. There absolutely was a lot of it. Some took the form of murals and slogans, but the primary medium was the Cubavision channel. It had content 24/7 (as did the other channel, which carried pirated movies and soap operas), including speeches by Fidel, cartoons about Cuba being a thorn in the foot of the U.S. (The U.N. were portrayed as cowardly worms, subservient worms, if memory serves), and other patriotic events. At that point in time, I saw Cuba as pretty unambiguously Authoritarian™, with little clear idea of the island’s history. I did want the embargo to end, and saw it as a big problem for the Cuban people, but I think considered Castro to be as much of a problem. I’m still a bit uncertain on the subject, but it’s less clear-cut to me these days.

I also noticed, as I paid more attention to U.S. affairs, how much our own political pageantry paralleled that which was condemned as authoritarian when communists did it. That could be the patriotic displays at sporting events, the ubiquity of heroizing military recruitment ads, the requirement that all politicians always remember to say that “America is the greatest country in the world”, or political rallies with jingoistic rhetoric and political songs and musical numbers. Fidel had six-year-olds singing about The Revolution, and Bush had six-year-olds singing about him and American greatness. Ditto Obama and Trump, and it was gross in both of those cases too. The enraging reality is that to live in the United States is to move through a miasma of propaganda.

Americans are, of course, the most thoroughly and passively indoctrinated people on earth. They know next to nothing as a rule about their own history, or the histories of other nations, or the histories of the various social movements that have risen and fallen in the past, and they certainly know little or nothing of the complexities and contradictions comprised within words like “socialism” and “capitalism.” Chiefly, what they have been trained not to know or even suspect is that, in many ways, they enjoy far fewer freedoms, and suffer under a more intrusive centralized state, than do the citizens of countries with more vigorous social-democratic institutions.

Again, this is not unique to the United States, but it’s necessary to point this out and discuss it because USians, as a rule, tend not to believe they’re subject to propaganda, or when they do believe it, they tend to see it as “that which supports the opposing side” more than anything. I think part of the problem there is the way the development of capitalism has worked to hide who holds power, by separating economic and political power (at least in terms of rhetoric), and reshaping the law so that the greatest power tends to be held outside the government. That power is wielded through campaign donations, direct advocacy and messaging, lobbying, and the other forms of corruption with which we’ve become so familiar.

It is also wielded through the media – not just the more obvious news and political commentary, but also through entertainment media. I’ve shared some material on “Copaganda” here, but while this is part of Skip Intro‘s Copaganda series, this video is about the Top Gun movies, and the Pentagon’s involvement in Hollywood. This isn’t a comprehensive dive into that subject, but it’s a dive worth taking regardless.


If you like the content of this blog, please share it around. If you like the blog and you have the means, please consider joining my lovely patrons in paying for the work that goes into it. Due to my immigration status, I’m currently prohibited from conventional wage labor, so for the next couple years at least this is going to be my only source of income. You can sign up for as little as $1 per month (though more is obviously welcome), to help us make ends meet – every little bit counts!

Small blog update, and a video

For the rest of November, I’m going to be doing low-effort posts for the most part. I’m behind on my novel, and the sad truth is that if I want to be able to keep writing, I need more sources of income. As wonderful as my patrons are, they form a pretty small crowd that hasn’t grown much over the last year, so I think it would be foolish to assume that that will change after another year or two.

I intend to keep posting daily, but for the rest of this month, and probably periodically going forward, I’ll be taking time for other work. I doubt it’s just me, but I find it hard to remind myself that yes, writing a novel is work that I actually have a responsibility to keep doing in my current situation, and it’s sometimes discouraging to work on something that only has a possibility of paying off months or years down the line.

Anyway, for a change of tone, here’s a two-parter on U.S. policing, and how it interacts with U.S. culture – television in particular. There are content warnings in the videos, but if you know anything about our “justice” system, you already know this is gonna get dark.

Chevron’s greed and callousness underscore the need for revolutionary change.

Steve Donziger, who became famous for essentially being captive for years for exposing corporate human rights abuses, has shared a document leaked from Chevron, the company whose crimes he exposed.

The memo reads as follows:

Lago Agrio,
June 25th, 1980
OTE-276-80

DRILLING, WORKOVER & PRODUCTION PITS

Ing. René Buoaram

Attenion: Mr. E. K. Johnson

A study has been completed regarding the cost and necessity of eliminating possible contamination of the enviornment by the earthen pits used in the drilling, producing, and workover operations in the Oriente Region. The Study was requested in your memorandum No. 628 dated June 12, 1980.

In general, the possibility of polution by our current waste disposal into pits is very minimal when liquid levels are monitored and drains are maintained in good operating condition. It is our recommendation that the pits not be lined, filled nor fenced. Further, we recommend that the siphons continue to be used to keep the oil in the pits and the water drained from the pits.

First, the current pits are necessary for efficient and economical operation of our drilling and workover programs and for our production operations. The alternative for using our current pits, is to use steel pits at a prohibitive cost. The additional cost to transport the pits for each workover and swapping operation would also be expensive. A second alternative is to fill the old pits, dig new pits, and line the new pits. The cost to fill the old pits would be US$ 5,180 per well or US$ 1,222,480 for the 236 wells. The cost to dig new pits would be US$ 472,000. Linning the new pit would cost US$ 2,503,488. The total cost of eliminating the old pits and lining new pits would be US$ 4,197,968.

The cost of fencing the current pits would be an additional US$ 700,316. However, it has been our experience that the barbed wire used for these fences would be stolen within a very short time and render the fences useless.

The design of the current syphon system in our pits is such that the oil is retained in the pit and only water is drained from the pit. The water that is discharged from the pit is of low salinity that has little or no detrimental effect on the environment. To attest to this fact, no yellowing or dying vegetation can be found throughout this area of operation.

Therefore, it is recommended that the pits neither be fenced, lined, nor filled, and that the siphons continue to be used.

D. W. Archer

District Superintendent

Again, they’ve spent US$ 2 billion avoiding accountability for the consequences of this decision. When I say that we need to work on environmental cleanup, and on preventing pollution from the new technologies we use to replace fossil fuels, that includes stuff like this, and it includes all forms of resource extraction. This kind of careless waste “disposal” isn’t even close to being unique to the oil industry. It’s the default for everyone, everywhere, and the profit and political power gained from over a century of ruthless and irresponsible profit-seeking is being used not just to shield those most responsible from accountability, but also to prevent any change for the better, for as long as these ghouls can cling to their wealth and power.

 

Data on the economic toll of heat waves underscore the need to prioritize climate justice.

A few days ago, I wrote about how the increasing damage from powerful hurricanes is on track to being more than the U.S. economy can absorb. Unfortunately, it’s not just hurricanes, and it’s not jut the U.S. Since the 1990s, the global economy has lost 16 trillion dollars due to the various effects of heat waves:

Geography professor Justin Mankin and doctoral candidate Christopher Callahan, Guarini ’23, combined newly available, in-depth economic data for regions worldwide with the average temperature for the hottest five-day period—a commonly used measurement of heat intensity—for each region in each year. They found that from 1992 to 2013, heat waves statistically coincided with variations in economic growth and that an estimated $16 trillion was lost to the effects of high temperatures on human health, productivity, and agricultural output.

The findings stress the immediate need for policies and technologies that protect people during the hottest days of the year, particularly in the tropics and the Global South where the world’s warmest and most economically vulnerable nations are located, the researchers report.

“Accelerating adaptation measures within the hottest period of each year would deliver economic benefits now,” says Callahan, who is the study’s first author. “The amount of money spent on adaptation measures should not be assessed just on the price tag of those measures, but relative to the cost of doing nothing. Our research identifies a substantial price tag to not doing anything.”

The study, “Globally Unequal Effect of Extreme Heat on Economic Growth,” is the among the first to specifically examine how heat waves affect economic output, says Mankin, the study’s senior author and an assistant professor of geography. “No one has shown an independent fingerprint for extreme heat and the intensity of that heat’s impact on economic growth. The true costs of climate change are far higher than we’ve calculated so far.”

Dishonest actors sometimes point to deaths due to cold as a reason why we shouldn’t be worrying about climate change, but that argument ignores several factors. The first, of course, is that we are at the beginning of this warming event. While we can see a great deal of measurable change already, the sheer scale of what is happening makes it hard to remember that it’s actively getting worse. The second is that a lot of those deaths are due to the same economic system that has destabilized our climate. Lack of shelter, lack of adequate heat, and lack of adequate medical care all combine to make people far more vulnerable to all sorts of weather conditions, and the sad reality is that someone can die of hypothermia in pretty “warm” conditions.

Beyond that, there’s also the simple fact that we are a species that evolved on a cold planet. Our history has been hundreds of thousands of years of ice ages, and warmer inter-glacial periods, like the one we’ve been in for the last few millennia. We have many more tools for keeping ourselves warm than we have for cooling off. Deaths due to cold, would be pretty easy and cheap to prevent, but as a society we don’t value life very much.

And, of course, the statistics for cold deaths tend to focus on fairly wealthy countries that have harsh winters, and that choose to maintain a certain level of poverty, “for the economy. The growing problem of heatwaves is not only global, but is predictably hitting poorer countries harder:

“Our work shows that no place is well adapted to our current climate,” Mankin says. “The regions with the lowest incomes globally are the ones that suffer most from these extreme heat events. As climate change increases the magnitude of extreme heat, it’s a fair expectation that those costs will continue to accumulate.”

[…]

The study results underscore issues of climate justice and inequality, Mankin says. The economic costs of extreme heat—as well as the expense of adaptation—have been and will be disproportionately borne by the world’s poorest nations in the tropics and the Global South. Most of these countries have contributed the least to climate change.

The researchers found that while economic losses due to extreme heat events averaged 1.5% of gross domestic product per capita for the world’s wealthiest regions, low-income regions suffered a loss of 6.7% of GDP per capita.

Furthermore, the study revealed that to a certain point, wealthy subnational regions in Europe and North America—which are among the world’s biggest carbon emitters—could theoretically benefit economically by having periods of warmer days. The economies of other principal emitters such as China and India would be harmed by a greater intensity of extreme heat events given their regional baseline temperatures, the researchers found.

“We have a situation where the people causing global warming and changes in extreme heat have more resources to be resilient to those changes, and, in some rare cases, could benefit from it,” Mankin says. “It’s a massive international wealth transfer from the poorest countries in the world to the richest countries in the world through climate change—and that transfer needs to be reversed.”

 That last sentence could easily describe much of the last couple centuries of global politics and economics. It also follows what seems like an increasingly open hatred of anyone who’s struggling, and a belief that such people should be punished for their misfortune. It feels like a very superstitious, Calvinistic perspective – that those at the bottom are suffering because they deserve to be suffering, and therefor we should punish them for the sins they must have committed to be so cursed by God/The Free Market. That’s where we see people waving away a housing-first approach to homelessness, because of vague assertions about drug use or the preferences of people without adequate shelter, in my opinion. While it may not be unique to United States, it feels like a very USian outlook on life, and the flip side to the prosperity gospel that infuses that country’s culture.

And after a certain point, it’s hard not to see this as white supremacist eugenics at work in the climate denial movement, especially when you look at the other political projects funded by fossil fuel corporations and their owners.


If you like the content of this blog, please share it around. If you like the blog and you have the means, please consider joining my lovely patrons in paying for the work that goes into it. Due to my immigration status, I’m currently prohibited from conventional wage labor, so for the next couple years at least this is going to be my only source of income. You can sign up for as little as $1 per month (though more is obviously welcome), to help us make ends meet – every little bit counts!

Hurricanes are on track to being too much for the U.S. economy to handle

It kinda feels like hurricanes are getting worse, doesn’t it?

Back in August, I talked about how we’ve entered what I call The Age of Endless Recovery after researchers at UC Davis actually put numbers on how extreme weather events are hurting economic growth in the United States. Since then, the hurricane season has hit, devastating communities from the Caribbean north. The thing is, a lot of our awareness of these events depends on news corporations choosing to cover them. There’s been a lot of news about named storms, but I haven’t seen nearly as much attention paid to the drought in China, for example (and yeah, I haven’t been better on that). I also can’t help but think about the way crime reporting has convinced many people that violent crime is increasing, even as the trend has been in the opposite direction. I also know that the rhetoric about extreme weather getting more frequent and worse has led some people to think that climate scientists have been predicting that hurricanes specifically will be getting more frequent and worse. The actual prediction has been that while rising ocean temperatures will increase the number of tropical cyclones, the increase in wind shear will lead to a decrease in the number of those cyclones that survive long enough to become actual hurricanes. So, fewer hurricanes. The problem is that the warmer water that makes more of those cyclones will also make the hurricanes that do form much more likely to be powerful. I’ll let Peter Hadfield explain in this old Potholer54 video:

 

I think the effect of this is that it will feel like there are more storms, because there are more that are big enough to require politicians to request aid, and get good ratings over multiple news cycles. Unfortunately, this isn’t just a matter of things making sense on the surface. Research out of UW Madison found that hurricanes really are getting stronger:

In almost every region of the world where hurricanes form, their maximum sustained winds are getting stronger. That is according to a new study by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Center for Environmental Information and University of Wisconsin–Madison Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, who analyzed nearly 40 years of hurricane satellite imagery.

A warming planet may be fueling the increase.

“Through modeling and our understanding of atmospheric physics, the study agrees with what we would expect to see in a warming climate like ours,” says James Kossin, a NOAA scientist based at UW–Madison and lead author of the paper, which is published today (May 18, 2020) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The research builds on Kossin’s previous work, published in 2013, which identified trends in hurricane intensification across a 28-year data set. However, says Kossin, that timespan was less conclusive and required more hurricane case studies to demonstrate statistically significant results.

To increase confidence in the results, the researchers extended the study to include global hurricane data from 1979-2017. Using analytical techniques, including the CIMSS Advanced Dvorak Technique that relies on infrared temperature measurements from geostationary satellites to estimate hurricane intensity, Kossin and his colleagues were able to create a more uniform data set with which to identify trends.

“The main hurdle we have for finding trends is that the data are collected using the best technology at the time,” says Kossin. “Every year the data are a bit different than last year, each new satellite has new tools and captures data in different ways, so in the end we have a patchwork quilt of all the satellite data that have been woven together.”

I actually really like this article, because of its links to Kossin’s other work, because in addition to being stronger, he’s found evidence that they’re traveling further (makes sense to me), but moving more slowly, which means much more flooding:

Kossin’s previous research has shown other changes in hurricane behavior over the decades, such as where they travel and how fast they move. In 2014, he identified poleward migrations of hurricanes, where tropical cyclones are travelling farther north and south, exposing previously less-affected coastal populations to greater risk.

In 2018, he demonstrated that hurricanes are moving more slowly across land due to changes in Earth’s climate. This has resulted in greater flood risks as storms hover over cities and other areas, often for extended periods of time.

“Our results show that these storms have become stronger on global and regional levels, which is consistent with expectations of how hurricanes respond to a warming world,” says Kossin. “It’s a good step forward and increases our confidence that global warming has made hurricanes stronger, but our results don’t tell us precisely how much of the trends are caused by human activities and how much may be just natural variability.”

Now, those of you who’ve been paying attention will know already that there’s no such thing as a natural disaster. In this age of science and technology, we have both the knowledge and the resources to largely disaster-proof our populations. Horror shows like Hurricane Katrina, or any recent catastrophic storm, are almost always so devastating because those in power didn’t think that adequate infrastructure was worth the expense. We prioritized money over life, and so life was lost. You may also be familiar with the saying, “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure”. If we prepare for conditions that we know will occur; if we build real levees and sea walls, if we reinforce and maintain the electrical grid, if we move communities away from places where sea walls won’t work – if we do the things that science has shown will help to mitigate the harm done by extreme weather events – we can save both lives and money.

Unfortunately, that is not the trend we’re on right now. A new study out of the Pottsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research shows that we’re on track for hurricanes that do more damage than the US economy can handle:

“Tropical cyclones draw their energy from ocean surface heat. Also, warmer air can hold more water which eventually can get released in heavy rains and flooding that often occur when a hurricane makes landfall,” says Robin Middelanis from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Potsdam University, lead author of the study. “It’s thus clear since long that hurricane damages will become bigger if we continue to heat up our Earth system.” While we might not have more hurricanes in the future, the strongest among them could get more devastating.
“Now, one of the important questions is: can we deal with that, economically? The answer is: not like this, we can’t,” says Middelanis. “Our calculations show, for the first time, that the US economy as one of the strongest on our planet, will eventually not be able to offset the losses in their supply chains on their own. Increasing hurricane damages will exceed the coping capacities of this economic super-power.”

I think it’s worth noting here that for poorer countries, natural disasters are probably at or beyond that threshold already. It’s also worth remembering that the poverty of those countries is almost invariably due to the abuses of imperialist powers. Haiti is probably the best example, at least in the “New World”, as they were forced to pay France for the crime of winning their independence, and have been repeatedly invaded, robbed, and otherwise harmed by the United States in particular. As we work to change our relationship with the environment, we must also work to end these economic injustices that have been deliberately maintained by the rich and powerful of the world. Unfortunately, this research shows what we’ve known for a long time: if we don’t change course in a big way, even wealthy nations are going to get stuck in a downward spiral, and they will absolutely steal more resources from poorer nations in an attempt to maintain their own comfort. The grim reality is that our entire system, from food production, to infrastructure, to trade, is all set up to work in climate conditions that no longer exist. The farther away we get from those conditions, the more things will break down.

The scientists looked at the 2017 hurricane Harvey that hit Texas and Louisiana and already then cost the enormous sum of 125 billion US Dollars in direct damages alone, and computed what its impacts would be like under different levels of warming. Importantly, losses from local business interruption propagate through the national and global supply chain network, leading to additional indirect economic effects. In their simulations of over 7000 regional economic sectors with more than 1.8 million supply chain connections, the scientists find that the US national economy’s supply chains cannot compensate future local production losses from hurricanes if climate change continues.
“We investigated global warming levels of up to 5°C – which unfortunately might be reached by the end of our century if climate policy fails us,” says Anders Levermann, head of complexity science at PIK and scientist at New York’s Columbia University, a co-author of the study. “We do not want to quantify temperature thresholds for the limit of adaptation of the US economy’s national supply chains, since we feel there’s too much uncertainty involved. Yet we are certain that eventually the US economy’s supply chain capacities as they are now will not be enough if global warming continues. There is a limit of how much the US economy can take, we just don’t know exactly where it is.”

“Bad for people”

Ironically, in the case of hurricane Harvey it is in particular the oil and gas industry in Texas which suffers from the impacts of hurricanes driven by global warming – while global warming is in turn driven by the emissions from burning oil and gas, plus of course coal. The fossil fuel extraction sector is big in that region of the US, and it is vulnerable to cyclone damages. The computer simulations show that production losses in the fuel sector will be amongst those which will be most strongly compensated by countries like Canada and Norway, but also Venezuela and Indonesia, at the expense of the US economy.
“When things break and production fails locally, there’s always someone in the world who is happy to make money by selling the replacement goods,” says Levermann. “So why worry? Well, reduced production means increasing prices, and even if that means it’s good for some economies, it is generally bad for the consumers – the people. Also from a global economic perspective, shifts due to disrupted supply chains can mean that less efficient producers step in. It’s a pragmatic, straightforward conclusion that we need to avoid increasing greenhouse gas emissions which amplify this kind of disruptions.”

It seems likely that I have different political and economic goals from the people who wrote this article, but I think their analysis is solid when it comes to how global warming will affect the United States, absent significant change. It’s important to remember that even within the economic framework that neoliberals claim to believe is so perfect, the rising temperature means disaster on the horizon. It’s also important to remember that the people in power almost certainly know this, and rather than trying to change course, they seem to be preparing to set themselves up in fortress bunkers while the rest of us starve, burn, drown, or agree to serve them in exchange for the scraps they decide to give us (I’ll probably have a rant about that out soon).

In the end, it comes back to the same thing. We need revolutionary political change if humanity is to have a future worth fighting for. Giving all the power to pathological money hoarders has led to global catastrophe, and there is no real plan, within this political and economic system, to make the world better. At most, some of the people at the top are hoping for a technological miracle that will save everyone else without them having to give up anything. Revolutionary change doesn’t have to mean war, though people in power tend to choose that over losing their power, but it does mean we need lots of people working together in an organized fashion. Things aren’t likely to collapse all at once, but it seems pretty clear where we’re heading. Our ruling class sees all of us as expendable, and as less important than their hoards, so we will have to figure this out for ourselves.


If you like the content of this blog, please share it around. If you like the blog and you have the means, please consider joining my lovely patrons in paying for the work that goes into it. Due to my immigration status, I’m currently prohibited from conventional wage labor, so for the next couple years at least this is going to be my only source of income. You can sign up for as little as $1 per month (though more is obviously welcome), to help us make ends meet – every little bit counts!

Fascist voter intimidation is a problem that will not go away by itself.

Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.

― Jean-Paul Sartre

It brings me no joy to say that I think this Sartre quote will be important to keep in mind over the next few years. Even without the recent rise in open antisemitism from the right, I think the general idea is important to keep in mind, when dealing with the presence of a growing fascist movement in society. That “they don’t believe in words” bit applies to pretty much all of reality. Whether this is a deep belief, or just a worldview they adopt to justify what they want to do anyway, concepts like “truth” and “reality” are about who has the power to impose their will, not about any kind of verifiable fact. They’ll say otherwise, of course, just like they’ll lie about anything else, but it’s like with Trump – the absolute truth is whatever suits their goal in the given moment.

When it comes to elections, their goal is power. That’s not the same as saying that their goal is to win an election. They do want to win the election, of course, but only so they can use that power to make it harder for anyone else to win the next election. Ultimately, their only use for elections is to provide an appearance of legitimacy, while they feel they need it. If they feel that pretense is no longer necessary, they will shed it just as quickly as they’ve shed the pretense that they’re not racist, or not transphobic.

The same holds true for so many of their so-called beliefs, that unless you happen to know how to decipher their obscurantism and lies, you often have to infer their actual goals from the effects of their actions and the direction in which they seem to be heading. They may say that they’re OK with legal immigration, and that race has nothing to do with it, but at the same time, they’re lying about what constitutes legal vs illegal immigration. They may say that they care about law and order, but they ignore or actively seek to violate laws that go against the hierarchy they believe should exist. For fascists, that hierarchy means “us” at the top, and “them” at the bottom. It’s very, very similar to this famous Frank Wilhoit quote:

Conservatism Consists of Exactly One Proposition, to Wit: There Must Be In-Groups Whom the Law Protects but Does Not Bind, Alongside Out-Groups Whom the Law Binds but Does Not Protect.

When they say “law and order”, they’re talking about a self-serving definition of natural law, and natural order, from a Social Darwinian perspective. Anything is justifiable in defense of that version of law and order in particular. Imprisonment without trial, planting evidence, perjury, torture, murder, theftanything is justifiable.

That’s why efforts to subvert democracy are on any list of characteristics of fascism. It’s not because fascist regimes in the past were authoritarian – though they were – it’s because fascism as an ideology views the concept of “fair play” as weakness. Victory and power are all that matter, hence the Nazi slogan of “Seig heil” – hail victory. That’s also why we should expect fascists to keep trying to scare people out of voting:

Consider this: Two armed individuals – dressed in tactical gear – were spotted at a ballot drop box in Mesa on Friday night, according to Maricopa County officials. The pair left the scene when the County Sheriff’s Office arrived.

“We are deeply concerned about the safety of individuals who are exercising their constitutional right to vote and who are lawfully taking their early ballot to a drop box,” Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates and Recorder Stephen Richer said in a joint statement on Saturday.

There’s reason for concern, especially with candidates who have questioned the results of the 2020 election running as GOP nominees this year – including a full slate of them in Arizona, which became a hotspot of election denialism in the wake of Trump’s loss to Joe Biden in the state. And across the country, there’s concern about how some GOP-controlled county boards run by election deniers will oversee this year’s elections.

Read this report from CNN’s Kyung LahThe Arizona Secretary of State’s Office has already referred to the US Department of Justice and Arizona Attorney General’s Office a separate report of voter intimidation:

The unidentified voter reported that they were approached and followed by a group of individuals when the voter was trying to drop off their ballot at an early voting drop box on Monday.

CNN on Thursday obtained from the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office the report in which the voter detailed the alleged incident. It occurred, the voter wrote, around 6:40 p.m. at the Juvenile Justice Court drop box in Mesa, within Maricopa County.
The voter wrote that a “group of people” filmed, photographed and raised accusations against them as they attempted to return their early ballots.

The voter wrote that a “group of people” filmed, photographed and raised accusations against them as they attempted to return their early ballots.

See for yourself. “There’s a group of people hanging out near the ballot dropbox filming and photographing my wife and I as we approached the dropbox and accusing us of being a mule,” the voter said, adding that the group took photographs of them, their license plate and followed them out of the parking lot.

Part of the incident was captured on surveillance video, as seen here.

Arizona has referred six cases of voter intimidation to the Department of Justice, for its current primary, but this problem goes well beyond the long-standing U.S. tradition of voter intimidation by fascist vigilantes. Florida governor Ron Desantis has already shown that he’s willing to engage in human trafficking for a PR stunt, but he’s also arresting people for “voter fraud”, because they mistakenly believed they were allowed to vote. To be clear, they voted under their own names, and most of them did so after requesting and receiving explicit permission to do so from the Florida Department of Elections:

Of the 19 people arrested by DeSantis’ Office of Election Crimes and Security, 13 were Black and 12 were registered Democrats. Most had applied to register to vote under Amendment 4, a voter-approved 2018 ballot measure meant to restore voting rights for 1.4 million former felons. The stakes transcended Florida and criminal justice reform—a botched state voter purge of purported former felons played what one federal civil rights commissioner called an “outcome determinative” role in the 2000 U.S. presidential election.

Most of the applicants who were arrested were approved by the Florida Department of Elections, which sent their voter registration cards ahead of the 2020 elections. All were charged with third-degree felony voter fraud, a crime punishable by as many as five years behind bars and up to a $5,000 fine.

“The arrests are a grotesque abuse of power by Gov. DeSantis,” ACLU of Florida continued. “Although the governor and Legislature claimed that they passed S.B. 7066 in 2019 to ‘clarify’ Voting Restoration Amendment 4, in reality, the law created an unworkable pay-to-vote system that is intentionally difficult and complex to navigate.”

Bear in mind that in the United States, being arrested and charged with a felony can have devastating affects on your life. Even if you don’t miss work because the cops took you away, many places will still fire you for having been arrested. If you have a conviction on your record, your rights are already limited in most of the country, whether or not you have a conviction on your record. I say that because while a judge has thrown out the case, the disruption to these people’s lives is still very real, as is the message it sends. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re allowed to vote – you might get arrested for doing it anyway.

This will not end here. Remember – the only limit on what they will do, is what they think they can get away with, and they will never stop pushing that boundary. This is also not something that can be solved solely by voting. I really, really wish it was, but when you have a fascist party openly working to subvert democracy (Remember when the GOP candidate successfully sued to stop a recount?), it’s hard to come to any other conclusion. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to grab your muskets and rise up, but it does mean that you should be considering what it would look like to participate in organized resistance that goes beyond protesting authorities who’ve already shown they’re happy to attack and maim protesters and journalists. The momentum of our political and economic system is pushing us towards fascism, and the Democratic Party as it currently exists is neither willing nor able to actually change that. The leadership of the party all benefit from the system as it is, and many of them have done so for decades. Voting is still important, in my view. It can get small improvements, like Biden’s recent pardon for federal cannabis convictions, and while that’s not nearly enough, it’s still going to make a few thousand people’s lives a bit easier going forward.

But that’s not enough to change the momentum. The reality is that democracy requires more work than most people have been putting into it. That’s also largely because of systemic problems. Most people’s childhood education doesn’t include stuff about community organizing, how to run a union, or how to form an underground resistance against an authoritarian regime. Once we’re in the work force, a lot of people barely have time to get enough sleep, let alone do more work that doesn’t even come with a paycheck. And yet, somehow, we have to find a way to do more, or at least to do differently. We have to rediscover how to build, sustain, and wield collective power, and we have to figure out what it would look like to have actual self-governance in a modern society.


If you like the content of this blog, please share it around. If you like the blog and you have the means, please consider joining my lovely patrons in paying for the work that goes into it. Due to my immigration status, I’m currently prohibited from conventional wage labor, so for the next couple years at least this is going to be my only source of income. You can sign up for as little as $1 per month (though more is obviously welcome), to help us make ends meet – every little bit counts!