Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Definitions of Independence

The Fourth of July: Independence Day. As a country today however, we are in some ways dangerously and stupidly dependent.

We are far too dependent on a vulnerable Internet and satellites (especially GPS) for far too much, without alternatives or adequate redundancy.

 We are way, way too dependent on other nations for our food and goods.  We are especially dependent on the smooth operation of complex transportation systems over great distances that are vulnerable in any number of ways.  Political instability, natural disaster and other foreseeable but ignored circumstances in key countries could set the entire house of cards tumbling down.

All of this is unnecessary in its scope and threat.  Laissez faire is how the attitude is described: leave it to the massive corporations maximizing profit to determine our dependence.  The sound of those French words suggests what is at the heart of it: laziness.  We are too lazy, too distracted to take sensible measures and precautions to protect our independence.  We could have local food sources and more manufacturing within the country, but we don't even discuss it except in the bullshit of the liar now in the White House who doesn't know how to approach the problems and never intended to anyway.

But in other vital ways, our independence depends on understanding our dependence on the whole: on the natural systems of the planet, and the international efforts that are necessary to address threats to everyone's life and liberty, far into the future.

The Fourth of July weekend is considered the first big holiday of summer.  And in most of the world, it is hot.  It is very hot.  In too many places, it is dangerously hot.

It was hot already in early June.  In Europe, the June heat waves were linked directly to the climate crisis.  Until recently, scientists could not attribute individual events like a heat wave to the climate crisis, although such events were predicted in climate crisis models.  But now they can.  And last month they did.

A new study suggests where in the United States the climate crisis will have the largest effects, but for the moment let's stay with Europe.  The heat there has the full attention of government leaders, and some statements by German chancellor Angela Merkel did not get the attention they deserve, because they were quite ominous.

In advance of the G20 meetings, in which our apprentice dictator is scheduled to take part, Merkel took a step farther than her previous suggestion that Europe needs to look to its own affairs without expecting outside help.  Her new statements are a warning--at these meetings and in general, Europe is going to be dealing with what they need to do to confront and address the climate crisis, and anybody who isn't interested in that agenda will simply be ignored.

On this issue in particular, Europe is declaring its independence (although more than willing to listen to Governor Jerry Brown and other state, city and regional U.S. leaders who are serious people with serious ideas about addressing the causes and consequences of the climate crisis.)  And if they were willing to indulge the a.d. on anything, his last series of appalling tweets have given the Europeans plenty of motivation to simply turn their backs on him.

That's not the only likely drama of those meetings.  Regarding the U.S., it will be how much damage our a.d. will do, childishly miffed by being ignored by all but his mentor in Russia, Putin, with whom he is meeting (though as usual without much of an agenda or reason to meet.)

Meanwhile, thousands of Americans have declared their independence from their own president and his regime, with rallies over the weekend in dozens of cities (but especially in L.A., NYC and San Francisco) in support of his impeachment.

I wrote back in January about mourning for the presidency, but it's worse now to be watching the presidency being drawn and quartered in the public square.  The integrity of the government, such as it was, is also being torn limb from limb, as the president and his family profit from office and openly corrupt government officials--notably the EPA--do the bidding of corporations.

These are ugly, sickening sights and sounds.  Contemplating the history and hopes associated with Independence Day may remind us, however grimly, of the country we should have.  For these days the only independence is resistance.

Update: On this Independence Day the big news is North Korea's first successful test of a missile capable of reaching the U.S., although not yet the lower 48. (This Times piece linked above is a good short summary of the total situation, which would test even a very good president.)  Another Times piece notes that analysts believe that even with this test, North Korea is several years away from being capable of launching an ICBM with a nuclear warhead capable of reaching a U.S. target.

The a.d.'s response was alarmingly disengaged, with a joke most a stand up comics would reject.  His past bluster has not only been ineffective, it shows him up as a bluffer with little credibility. 

  This is shaping up to be the critical situation that was bound to happen sooner or later.  It brings into sharper relief his unfitness for office--as in this oped entitled The greatest threat facing the United States is its own president, and contrary to some I have no more confidence in the foreign policy people of  his regime.

Final Update: To round out this Independence Day: When NPR tweeted the Declaration of Independence line by line, some supporters of the apprentice dictator trolled them for anti-a.d. propaganda.

No comments: