Standing Rock Protestors and Enbridge Line 5: Water is Sacred, Even For Doofus Secular Modernists

Great Lakes oil spill Mackinac Straits Enbridge line 5 water pollution

This seems an unimportant region, waterwise, in terms of water people drink.

Two years ago, protests at Standing Rock showed the power of a movement against the forces of unrestrained capitalism. Native protestors, joined soon by other allies, stood firm even in the biting bitter cold of the terrible northern Plains, trying to protect sacred sites and vitally important waterways against leaky pipelines built by shoddy, dishonest companies.

And it worked! Or, at least it did until Trump won and we entered the worst timeline.

But still: in all but the darkest and grimmest scenarios, the protestors at Standing Rock managed to stand firm, even as corporate power used the long arm of the state to try to break them, even after they were set upon by dogs and drones. It was goddamn heroic.

And now a handful of veterans from that movement are trying to bring the same attention to one of this blog’s favorite causes: Enbridge Line 5, running directly beneath the Straits of Mackinac, that roiling and terrifying waterway that combines Lake Huron and Michigan.

(Of course, they are actually one lake, he said, sniffingly)

From the FREEP:

In 2016, Nancy Shomin camped at Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota with fellow protesters, trying to block the completion of the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

Now, Shomin, who said she grew up in Flint and is a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, finds herself again protesting an oil pipeline – but, this time, closer to home.

Shomin, 54, and others have set up a camp to protest Canadian oil transport company Enbridge’s Line 5, which carries millions of gallons of oil and natural gas liquids each day, splitting into two pipelines as it passes underwater through the Straits of Mackinac.

“The goal is to shut it down,” she said.

Now, this isn’t quite a movement yet; as of the article being published, there were less than a dozen people. But that doesn’t make it any less important.

A rupture in the pipeline would be catastrophic. The Straits are powerful, filled with rushing and oscillating currents, which punish ships and make navigation extremely difficult. The water flow is hard to contain, as this 2014 U of M report shows.

The report is pretty heavy on the science, but luckily the amazing people at Circle of Blue summarized it.

According to the report’s findings, a rupture under the straits would be particularly problematic because of the quickly moving and changing currents. The amount of water moving through the straits can be tenfold the volume of water that dives over Niagara Falls, and currents tend to reverse direction every few days.

“If you were to pick the worst possible place for an oil spill in the Great Lakes, this would be it,” said Schwab.

An oil spill under the Straits of Mackinac could reach beaches on Mackinac Island, one of the crown jewels of Michigan tourism, within 12 hours. The oil could travel as far as 35 miles to the west, reaching Beaver Island, and 50 miles to the southeast, all the way to Rogers City, said the report.

That might not seem like a lot, but 85 miles of open water is enormous, and incredibly hard to contain and clean, especially if a leak or spill happened in the winter under the thick ice, or during a storm.

Image result for mackinac bridge storm

Good luck in this

Oil or liquid gas or petroleum could move its way into rivers, killing birds and fish throughout the upper Great Lakes system. Even if you don’t care about fish, those are people’s livelihoods.

None of this is abstract. Pipelines will always leak, and Enbridge’s tend to leak a lot more than others. And they tend to leak a lot more than Enbridge reports, because they are the kind of company that sees itself above the law. They are responsible for the largest leak in Michigan history, and have been underreporting the amount of leakage in Line 5 for years. (That’s an understatement; the actual amount of leaking has been double what the Pruitt-enabling jackals at Enbridge blithely report.)

You might not be surprised to know that,  to be sure they are always on the wrong side of things, the company acquired a major stake in the Dakota Access Pipeline.

It’s not just leakage, although it is also that. The pipelines can be easily damaged by ships, as happened just this spring. They are a clear and present danger to anyone who relies on the Great Lakes for clean water, whether that is for drinking or your livelihood. You don’t have to think it sacred to know that it is holy.

The waters belong to us all. They aren’t the private property of the rich and powerful, armed with unaccountable security forces and protected on high by corrupt officials. Standing Rock proved that it is possible to win, even though the battle is never over.

In Mackinac, the water flows both ways with a terrifying ferocity. Sometimes, so does justice.

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Which of these quotes is most craven? A Fun Trump-Era Game!

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I will never grow tired of this image.

This blog was originally going to have a strict “No Omarosa” policy, because it seemed to do otherwise was embarrassing. Why are we talking about this reality show washout who didn’t have a real job in the administration? Of course, we have a reality show President, and live in the dumbest and tackiest of all possible timelines, so there is a non-zero chance that fucking Omarosa will have a world-historic impact.

But until then, I want to ignore this sickening and degrading enterprise, and focus on another sickening and degrading enterprise: Politico’s little brief on what they laughingly call “Trump’s Diplomatic Learning Curve“, which accidentally implies that our President is learning.

By now, you’ve read most of the highlights: he had no idea that there were countries called “Nepal” and “Bhutan”; he doesn’t understand that foreign leaders might not always want to take his rambling and gormless call at all hours; he doesn’t quite grasp the idea that other countries have delicate relations with others, and don’t base their every move around Trump.

But what’s interesting in the piece is that while some of the interpretations are bandied about, few of the specifics are disputed, even by sources who are still, for no apparent reason, anonymous.

A White House official said Trump, as a former jet-setting global businessman, understands how time zones work but doesn’t dwell on such details when he wants to talk to a foreign leader. “He’s the president of the United States. He’s not stopping to add up” time differences, the official said.

I really like this quote, because it isn’t denying that he fails to take time zones into account, or to care that someone might be asleep. That Japan is on the other side of the world is just “details”. The implication is that only nerds stop to add, and the President is a man of action. Stupid nerds.

nerd

This sentiment is backed up beautifully by James Carafano, a big Washington muck-muck elite, who also advised the State Department transition team.

“If people are looking for more polish and more kind of conventional statecraft and that’s their metric for Trump learning, I think they’re going to be disappointed,” said Carafano, vice president for foreign policy at the Heritage Foundation. “I don’t think he sees those as faux pas; I think he sees them as, ‘Look, I do things differently.’ If you say, ‘That’s not how things are done,’ he says, ‘Who says? Where is it written down that I can’t do that?’”

Here’s a man who ostensibly is dedicating his life to foreign policy, who is an important member of a top think-tank, a man of great influence in Washington, who is basically saying that sure, the President might not “know stuff” or “be smart” or “have basic human decency as the basis for diplomacy”, but that’s ok. He does things differently.

(It’s also important to note that “differently”, for Trump supporters, is synonymous with good. It’s a de facto assumption, and a totem for the initiated. It’s how they maintain their faith in the face of overwhelming incompetence.)

But that’s not even my favorite quote. This one is.

At times, he wings it with unfortunate results. Meeting with a group of African countries at the United Nations General Assembly last September, Trump, in public remarks, referred to the country of Namibia as “Nambia.” (Trump did impress some of his own aides in the meeting, however. “He did a very good job of saying Côte d’Ivoire,” said one.)

Ah, but I could be bound in the nutshell of that parenthetical and consider myself the king of infinite flopsweat! Just imagine being impressed by that, or I guess being professionally bound to convince yourself that this was, indeed, impressive! Imagine being in that position. Imagine thinking that a metric of success is for your boss to not botch literally everything.

I wish I could just hear the surely-strong-but-intensely-patronizing lilt in how this aide pronounced “very”. I honestly could listen to that on an endless loop for the rest of my life.

This is all fun and stuff, but what we have is an army of enablers for the fake king. They spin his intense ignorance as strength and virtue, and are terrified of offering even the most gentle corrections. It would be one thing if we had a genial dipshit in office, some kind of holy dummy who just floats along on a cloud of their own regard, but we don’t. We have a volcanic manchild at the seat of immense power.

The thrust of this article, read between the lines, is that anyone close to Trump, including every foreign leader beside Trudeau, is too scared of setting him off to correct him or to push back. Everyone, for reasons of self-protection or hoping for the greater good or sheer craven careerism or maybe just broken cognitive dissonance and faith-based acceptance, let’s him operate in a bubble of selfish incompetence and unlettered self-regard.

Politico refers to Trump’s “learning curve”, but it is obvious he isn’t learning everything. The only curve is the rapid bending of light as all of us are getting sucked into his dark gravity. The world is warping around the single dumbest man of his time and contorting themselves to try to stay upright. It’s not working. We’re all increasingly deformed, and this November is our last best chance at straightening up.

Yemen Bus Bombing, Ben Shapiro, and How We Consume the News

I just spent a blissful week in Adirondack splendor, during which, save for a quick trip to town on Tuesday, I was entirely without any internet connection. My phone stayed in my bag, dead as Dillinger, unmoored from the world and silent. Along with the clean fresh air, the endless trees, and the quietude of the lake, it made for a week of incredible relaxation.

That’s not to say that we were entirely disconnected. The week was spent with my wife’s extended family, a more wonderful group of people you’ll likely never meet, and papers were brought back anytime someone went into town for supplies (i.e. beer and wine). So there were local papers, but also the NYTimes. 

Now, I know that the Times isn’t exactly the go-to paper of the so-called common man or anything, but it is still a print edition, finite in what it can cover. While it may or may not be “all the news that’s fit to print” (spoiler: nope), it can literally only fit so much. The local papers, concerned as the should be with local news and weather, with farming updates and conservation debates, with the day-to-day fabric of what directly impacts people’s lives, can fit even less.

I haven’t consumed news this way in years, not for any extended time, anyway. Looking at the papers, we didn’t see every latest Twitter war, every uttering of every two-bit grifter, every take and counter-take and thinkpiece on what counter-takes meant, jokes about what different memes initiating from the original counter-take mean, etc.

Then, when I came back on Saturday night, and reluctantly, but with fingers doing so almost autonomically, like a just-quit smoker flicking an imagined Bic, checked Twitter, it was to find that people were debating whether Alexandia Ocasio-Cortez should debate Ben Shapiro.

Now.

There is a world in which this matters. Bad-faith half-bright trolls like Shapiro, who is plumped up as the intellectual future of conservatism, which tells you all you need to know, do sort of matter. They are shaping the way we talk about things and the way the right reacts. That matters. The sneering attacks on AOC for not debating a Twitter troll trying to pump up his brand tells you everything you need to know about their dishonesty.

No one can honestly think that every political candidate should debate every jumped-up avatar with a book to sell. And there can’t be anyone who thinks that Shaprio would debate in good faith. He’s made a living off of not doing so, because he’s talented enough to spin any point into a “crushing” set of pre-determined talking points. Winning debates isn’t about being honest, it is about scoring points.

So this was never, ever going to happen. There was zero reason for AOC to do so. It was offered entirely so that she would look bad when ignoring it (“Why is socialist COWARD afraid to debate?”) and that Shapiro could go on Fox a few more times. It was a perfect example of the empty reality of our times.

It didn’t, as far as I could tell, make any of the local papers I was reading. There wasn’t a concern with these inane week-long nothings. That’s not to say that the locals never hear of this. They aren’t offline; they are busy living their lives in an economically challenged area, not there just for the raw and rugged beauty. They don’t have the luxury of a week off. And as we see in Qanon or any of Trump’s little Nitwit Nuremburgs, the ginned-up nonsense online seeps into the real world.

But on a daily basis, a very small number of people actually care about this, much less debate it. Twitter, and being Very Online in general, warps your perception about the things that matter, and the things that matter only to the Very Online. It turns out that not everyone knows who Ben Shapiro is. And not everyone has an opinion on whether AOC is or is not the future of the Democratic Party.

But there are other things that most people in this country don’t know and don’t care about.

Dozens were killed and wounded in an airstrike on a bus carrying children in Yemen’s northern Saada province, according to the International Committee for the Red Cross and eyewitnesses.

On Thursday, a Saudi missile or bomb slammed into a school bus filled with Yemeni children, killing 40 of them, and ripping them from childhood into death or something different, a world of pain and terror, of disfigurement and nightmares, and shattering families already pulverized by war and famine and disease.

There’s more, though. While it is not yet confirmed, there is evidence that the bomb was a Raytheon Mark-82, American-made, and sold to the Saudis who are only in one war. This bomb was manufactured and sold to be dropped on Yemen by Saudi Arabia, who since the start of their Yemeni invasion have shown no concern whatsoever for avoiding civilian casualties.

(Even if it turns out this wasn’t a Mark-82, they have consistently been used to kill civilians at weddings and in school and at the market.)

I’m not saying this didn’t make the Times. I don’t remember seeing it, but we might not have gotten it on Thursday or Friday. I certainly don’t remember seeing it elsewhere, in the local papers. I’m sure it was covered. I’m sure as well that, like the Yemeni wedding which Raytheon crashed, it will quickly go away.

This also matters. Our involvement in that war is a crime, unjustifiable except by the most twisted and bad-faith and hysterical and violence-wrecked interpretation of the AUMF, which people barely even bother to invoke, so used to war we all are. But in any reasonable world, this would be front page for days. The US is directly complicit with a sickening act of violence deliberately perpetrated against children, designed to shatter resistance.

I saw most coverage of this on Twitter. I saw scores of activists forcing us to pay attention, to understand. I saw consistent updates, outrage, and sober reporting of what was happening. I saw real journalism, in real time, interrupting the hourly inanity.

So getting unplugged can be great. Being not online can keep you away from having to have an opinion on Ben Shapiro, or even rudimentary knowledge of what exactly a “Ben Shapiro” is. But you can also miss the stories that matter. You can let US crimes slip by unnoticed. You can be wholly unaware of what a destabilizing presence we have become in this world. And that lets more crimes like this pass by unnoticed, become routine, become even unremarkable, for they are unremarked upon. It is brutalization by silence.

There’s obviously no prescription here. Being Online can wreck your brain and turn it into regurgitated, always-anxious mush. Ignoring local concerns makes everything national and has destroyed our politics. And local journalism is the true bulwark of democracy and accountability.

It’s just to say we still don’t know how to handle the times in which we live, and the way we consume information. It is altering our lives and politics in ways that are still not fully known, and are moving faster and faster, borne along by its own growing momentum. Getting unplugged for a week, and breathing the clean air, won’t ever change that.

Anti-Smog Lawsuits Show Path Against Foxconn, Bizarro EPA


The only good kind of Smog

(H/T to Official Blog Brother Kevin O’Neill for this)

The Foxconn plant being planned for just north of the Illinois border in Racine, Wisconsin, is a sort of Ground Zero for the labor and environmental arguments we’re going to be having in this country over the next few decades. It isn’t unique, and it isn’t the first, but it is emblematic of what we’re seeing and what is to come (and also close to home for this here blog, so we’ll focus on it).

To keep it short, about a year ago Foxconn, the tech giant that makes products for Apple, among others, when it isn’t too busy driving employees to suicide, announced that they would be opening a plant in southeastern Wisconsin, a poor and battered area, an area tossed around by the decline of manufacturing and the shifting of labor to cheaper areas overseas.

This could be seen as a blessing, of course. Although there are some signs of life in downtown Racine and nearby Beloit, both towns are still hurting, with shuttered factories and broken-curb streets just blocks away from cheery riverwalks and aspirational downtowns. These areas are the quintessential victims of capital flight and the attendant ills of post-modern capitalism.

The problem is that the Foxconn plant, while it might create jobs for 10,000 people, it won’t be hiring the uneducated of Racine and Beloit for long-term jobs, if at all. That 10,000 is illusory: most will come from short-term construction jobs (a good thing!), and the long-term will be engineers and other jobs recruited from around the country and around the world. And most of those will be “automation specialists”, since Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou dreams of a workerless factory.

So yeah…those jobs don’t seem like they’re really going to boost the region in the short or long term. Sure, there will be some security jobs, some minimum wage cleaning jobs, and I am sure there will be some mechanics, shoulders free from the burden of collective bargaining, making sure the robots are oiled and happy or whatever, but not jobs that carry the pride of work we as a nation rightfully celebrate.

And in order to create this robo-paradise, Scott Walker, who has already demolished the rights of workers in his state, an absolute prerequisite to attracting jobs for the vampiric business class, also gave away literal billions in tax incentives to a subsidiary of trillion-dollar Apple, broke the Great Lakes Compact, and stripped away environmental protections.

The latter, though, is where he might get tripped up.

Two lawsuits filed Thursday urge a federal appeals court to force southeast Wisconsin and northwest Indiana to comply with the latest limits on lung-damaging smog, targeting a Trump administration rollback intended to benefit Foxconn Technology Group and a handful of other big industrial companies.

The legal challenges — one filed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and another by two Chicago-based environmental groups — cite the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s own records and data in seeking to overturn the exemptions.

The lawsuits say that, according to the EPA’s own science, the pollution of SE Wisconsin is having a material difference in the life of the region, and the Foxconn plant will make it even worse. We know it will make it worse because, in order to get the plant approved, the Trump EPA had to carve out exemptions so that Foxconn, which again is really rich and has billions in tax incentives, wouldn’t have to make “improvements” to a plant which hasn’t even been built yet. 

That’s right: it would be too burdensome for a rich and powerful company to meet the very minimum of clean air requirements. At least that’s the argument. It is nonsense, of course, but a very particular kind of nonsense, and one that is among the central arguments in our era of capitalism.

Look at what had to happen in order for Foxconn to build a plant. First, they wouldn’t have even considered it is Walker hasn’t destroyed organized labor in the state. But then they also had to get massive tax cuts, have environmental laws rewritten for them, break treaties, and be able to refuse to comply with any regulations. All for a few jobs that won’t even pay very well!

It isn’t that Foxconn couldn’t pay workers more, or be forced to guarantee employment for human workers, or recognize the right to collectively bargain, or build a brand-new factory that wouldn’t poison the air. It’s that they don’t want to, because then they might not be quite as rich. And in late-stage capitalism, that matters more than anything else.

We’re at the point where a large number of people, including an entire political party and a substantial chunk of another one, agree that corporations should be able to do whatever they want, and that their prerogatives are far more important than those of workers or people who have to breathe or drink clean water.

The Trump administration is trying to do whatever it can to make this paradise a reality. It is fighting labor and rolling back any and all regulations. They’ve never made any secret of this. In one of his earliest post-election lunatic press conference, Trump made it very clear.

But you’re going to sell through a very strong border — not going to happen. You’re going to pay a very large border tax. So if you want to move to another country and if you want to fire all of our great American workers that got you there in the first place, you can move from Michigan to Tennessee and to North Carolina and South Carolina. You can move from South Carolina back to Michigan.

You can do anywhere — you’ve got a lot of states at play; a lot of competition. So it’s not like, oh, gee, I’m taking the competition away. You’ve got a lot of places you can move. And I don’t care, as along as it’s within the United States, the borders of the United States.

He wants states to race each other to the bottom, creating very few low-paying jobs without any regulations. He wants to see who can race each other to become Bangladesh. This isn’t pro-worker in any reality. It is “creating jobs”, sure, but only by making the lives of those workers as challenging and brutalized and meaningless as possible. It is nothing other than pro-capital, pro-corporation, and pro-boss.

That’s where we are. The Foxconn deal is a prime example of this, and the lawsuits might be the only way to gum it up. We can demand more. We can demand that states not take away our rights to a decent life so that Foxconn shareholders can get a little richer. We can redefine our relationship to power. In this new race, that might be the only way we can win.

Space Force Seems…Sort Of Real?

Image result for star crash movie

Space Force!

You like making fun of Space Force. I like making fun of Space Force. Everyone likes making fun of Space Force. It seemed the only people who didn’t were die-hard Trump supporters, who gleefully embraced it with the fervor of new, thinking it showed a kind of real-world toughness, and loved the idea of whizz-banging around it starcrafts to own the libs.

A crowd chanting “Space Force! Space Force!” after a phony President said we’re “reopening NASA” (?) because our “beautiful ancestors” (?) won WWII is extremely on-brand for 2018. 

Indeed, when the President first announced it in June, it seemed almost like a tossed-off joke.

“We must have American dominance in space,” Trump said during a speech at the National Space Council meeting, held at the White House on Monday. “I’m hereby directing the Department of Defense to immediately begin the process to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.”

“We are going to have the Air Force, and we are going to have the space force,” Trump said. “Separate, but equal. It is going to be something so important.”

Only Trump could create a new branch of the military that seeks to control the vastness of space and manage to invoke Jim Crow, before benedicting it with the elegance of “so important.”

I think most people assumed this was a Trump nonsense statement that would go away, but that’s not really how it works. We’ve seen time and time again that Trump says something, we all laugh and cringe, and then a few weeks or months later it turns into policy. Because it isn’t that he has a short attention span. He has no personal follow-through to do anything, but he demands his words become, if not real, at least a simulation of reality.

And this wasn’t just a Trump idea. It seems like it is, because the off-hand creation of a new force coupled with the grandiose-yet-tacky name of “Space Force” is perfectly Trump. But it wasn’t his idea, and there have been a lot of people agitating for a new branch of the military, with all the procurement, office space, badges, ranks, and awards that would come with.

So when the military plan for Space Force was leaked yesterday (absent the approval of Congress, who are supposed to see it today), it seemed…almost normal? Considering the circumstances, anyway.

The military would move quickly, creating a US Space Command by the end of 2018 that watches over space operations across the armed forces. The Pentagon would recommend that the leader of Air Force Space Command also head up this new division. Simultaneously, officials would establish a Space Operations Force that would include personnel (including civilians) from the whole military. It’d be ready quickly — “space experts” would go to the European and Indo-Pacific Commands by summer 2019.

The proposal, crafted by Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, would also lead to a major overhaul in how the military buys, develops and launches satellites, including (surprise) a larger role for private space companies. A new Space Development Agency would gradually take over the acquisition processes that are currently handled by individual branches. As their existing programs wrapped up, their resources would shift toward the new agency.

This isn’t new starfighters. These aren’t units designed to conquer Mars. These aren’t even really combat units, as we understand them. It’s giant new equipment-based bureaucracy based nearly entirely on the acquisition and deployment of technology.

But there is something real here, and in his own way, Trump stumbled upon it. He said America must “dominate” space, which is really the ultimate in colonialism and great power conflict. There are areas of space where there is tension, especially in the deployment of satellites, both civilian and military, spy technology, and missile/futuristic weapons systems.

There is also the need for international cooperation, since any debris that can come from these weapon systems can destroy our entire technological infrastructure. Indeed, the amount of junk floating in near orbit, the smallest piece of which can destroy, say, the world’s existing GPS system, demands that space not be an area of conflict, but one of mutually-assured success.

I don’t think Space Force, as conceived by the pros, is designed to be rapacious. But as we leave a very short window of cooperation among powerful nations, and as new leadership in Russia, China, and the United States seeks to revive power politics, space is becoming, well, a new frontier in this. It’s the next arena. Creating a defense of space, but one that seeks just to protect American interests, will inevitably promote conflict, especially if it is based largely on procurement. Quick gains for some, huge losses for everyone else, as we get stuck in moral entropy.

That’s why Space Force is more than a farce. We see new conflict brewing in a melting Arctic Circle, as Russia, the US, Canada, and others seek to exploit a thawed fortune (before, I guess, disease from the permafrost kills us all). That’s a result of our inability to sacrifice short-term gains for long-term stability and a livable climate.

And we see the same thing in space. It’s not just that it is grotesque to look into the stars and want to militarize them, although it is certainly that. It’s that this is an arena that needs intense cooperation and the ability to think beyond our lifetimes. Unfortunately, all signs point to us as a country, and a species, completely unable to do so.

Your Quick Reminder That Climate Change is Already Happening

AP:

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria now faces a deadlier threat than its own Boko Haram insurgency, with fighting between farmers and herdsmen over scare resources killing far more people this year, a new report said Thursday.

The violence “threatens to become even deadlier” and could undermine national stability ahead of elections next year, the International Crisis Group report says, adding that the conflict “has taken on dangerous religious and ethnic dimensions.”

More than 1,300 Nigerians died from the farmer-herder conflicts in the first half of this year, while the death toll from the Nigeria-based Boko Haram’s insurgency was about 250.

Now, no one is saying that these groups wouldn’t be fighting if it were not for climate change. The battle over resources is the story of most wars, at least when you get down to its essence. And the Nigerian conflict between herders and farmers is replayed over and over again throughout history (just take a look at Range Wars in the US). And given that, in Nigeria, the herders tend to be Muslim and the farmers Christian adds even more fuel to that fire.

But that’s sort of the point. If most wars are about resources, and those resource wars are exacerbated by and also exacerbate ethnic-religious-whatever-else tension, then it should be pretty clear that having fewer resources will just make everything worse.

As arable land starts to vanish and coastal areas are increasingly flooded, as wildfires rages and intense heat pulverizes huge swaths of the world, and as water dries up in rich and poor countries alike, the battles over scant resources and livable space will become more intense. Divisions will become calcified as people retreat to the relative security of clan and confession. And areas that still have the resources, or the money to artificially overcome shortages, will be dominated by walls both physical and moral.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Not only is it still just barely not too late to avoid some of the worst-case scenarios, but global leadership can actually create a system for fair distribution of goods and resources to mitigate the coming disasters. Recent history has shown that leadership to be in short supply, however. In fact, it could be easily argued that nationalism in the US and Europe have been spiked by the long-tail impacts of climate change.

We don’t need then to look at a heat map or conflict in Nigeria to know that climate change, with all its attendant ills, is already upon us. We just have to open up Twitter.

With New Russia Tweet, Trump Outlines Strategy for Undermining Democracy

One of the recurring themes of the Trump Administration has been for people to play a game called, essentially, “Evil or Stupid”, which asks whether the Current Occupant has a grand plan for carrying out the full expression of his malice, or if he just blunders into always doing the wrong thing because he can’t see beyond himself.

As of late, I think, the consensus is what many had been saying the whole time: it’s both! His innate cruelty, avarice, ignorance, and a self of sense that is both all-encompassing and entirely hollow line up perfectly with the worst policy plans of the far right, and, as we increasingly see, with the overarching strategy of Vladimir Putin to give Russia a relative by degrading the Western Alliance.

This tweet sums it up, and opens up a terrifying new phase of our stunningly precipitous decline.

At first glance, this is totally laughable. Everybody knows the Russians wanted Trump. Vladimir Putin said so at your press conference just last week, you dolt. This is clearly a kind of grandioise ass-covering, a desperate attempt to make people see things his way. It’s 100% at odds with reality.

It would be easy and probably correct to say that he is running this play in the same way he ran his dipshit reality show, where he portrayed himself as a brilliant businessman and the participants pretended to agree. It was a success, as far as TV was concerned, because he was able to entirely control the image. Having everyone buy into such an obvious lie made viewers participate in the lie as well, and believe it.

That’s how he ran his campaign, and how he has been running his administration. It’s entirely truthless, with a series of constant little lies and huge overarching untruths. This one, that he’s “tough on Russia”, is one of the latter. It’s a lie so big that it dares the cultists to believe it lest they are forced to throw away their faith. Throwing that away goes against human nature. Trump doesn’t know much, but he knows that.

Here’s an example: on her show yesterday, Rachel Maddow had a bombshell about Trump editing out the question where Putin was asked if he wanted Trump to win, to which Putin responds “Yes, I did”. That could be a signifier of this post-truth projection, because everyone saw the damn presser, but Uri Friedman at The Atlantic noticed this over a week ago, and has a slightly more nuanced take. It’s still goddamn weird to edit a question out of an official transcript because it is uncomfortable, and is more than a little authoritarian.

This innate truthless authoritarianism is how Trump’s malevolent cruelty lines up with the modern GOP, which has to lie about everything (defending democracy by limiting the right to vote, for example), but it is also how it matches and promotes Russia’s active campaign measures to throw American democracy into a state of higgedly-piggedly. Insane competing information becomes overwhelming and forces a tribalism based both on ideology and on post-modern ontology. Who you are is based on what side you’ve chosen, and every fact is filtered through that.

That’s why the first part of Trump’s tweet is more terrifying, and maybe a harbinger of what is to come. I don’t know how the Dems are going to in November. The map still favors Republicans, as does racially-based gerrymandering, dark money, and voter suppression. But Trump is entirely underwater in the polls, and a look at the map says the Senate is essentially a toss-up.

For a while, I was worried about the Russians engaging in some blatant, ham-handed interference that clearly favored the Democrats. When discussing the case for Trump as an asset, I wrote:

After all, if they just wanted to destroy American democracy, what better way? Why not have evidence that they are helping Democrats after two years of evidence they helped Republicans? Can you imagine the bloodbath? The fighting? Republicans who lost would refuse to give up their seats. Trump would order the arrest of every victorious Dem. The Justice Department would Captain Renault all over themselves. FOX would be outraged. We’d be sputtering about how it was a trap. To me, that is the smart Russian play.

Amazingly, in an article that was at best agnostic about whether or not the President of the United States was a Russian asset, I was still naive. Of course the Russians don’t have to actually do anything. If the Dems win, Trump will cry collusion regardless, and despite the very clear and obvious nature of Russia preferring him, despite his obvious fear/admiration of Putin, despite the undeniable fact that every action Trump has taken has been to weaken the Western Alliance and usher in a destabilized world of ethnonationalist states that strengthen Putinism, at least 40% of Americans will agree that IT IS THE DEMS WHO ARE IN LEAGUE WITH RUSSIA.

You’ll see, which we sort of already have, the word “collusion” become “fake news”, which was a real thing used to trick people during the election, but now is a slur to be cynically levied against the opposition. This country will tear itself apart. The very idea of truth could be completely undermined.

It’s scary how easy it would be for Russia to do this. All Putin has to do is drop a comment somewhere that he hopes the Democrats “wage a successful and fair election”, and every winger troll will go on about how that shows conclusively that Putin is helping illegal immigrants and Black Panthers flood the ballot boxes in East Jesus, TN. He could, as Friend of Blog Brett suggested, sacrifice an agent to be caught red-handed in something nefarious. It would be so easy to drop the final hammer, and I feel it coming.

But in the end, he doesn’t have to. We can do it to ourselves. Trump is already actively trying to make it happen. Putin’s final genius wasn’t to destroy America. He didn’t create anything. He just knew how weak and divided we were, staring at each other across a hot, trash-blown street, fingers itching toward holsters. He just tossed a firework in the middle and watched us draw.

It’s sobering that after two years of this, the real shooting might just be getting started.