It’s now the day after the storm that became known as Superstorm Sandy tore through the northeast. The damage is massive. Turning to news media brings a steady stream of reports trying to gather even a glimpse of the full scope of the epic event and the damage and repercussions. Millions of people in the eastern United States are dealing with the effects. You know all this if you’re paying any attention to the news.
As the storm came blasting through, I was watching television reports live from various locations as the storm was blasting through. One of those was a place called Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. The day after, I saw another report from there, in calm daylight, as a camera surveyed the devastation of the scene. The irony of the name is huge, but there’s nothing funny about this.
Humans may have loaded the bases, but nature bats last. This phrase forms the title of a piece written by David Suzuki in 2011, which is relevant today as much as ever.
“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans, and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.” -Willard Romney speaking at Republican national convention
There are people who might read this quote and think that this is a “political blog”, and now is a distasteful time to be getting into politics. Anybody reading what I write in this space with any regularity should know by know what my point is. I hate politics. The point of mentioning politics when it comes up is almost invariably about the dysfunction of American politics today. Here, just above, is another prime example.
It bumps me right back into the same territory as my last post, the Great Detachment. It has, unintentionally, ended up being a regular, frequent theme. The epidemic of disconnection from large chunks of reality in early 21st century America is severe. That’s the theme that has come to front and center. The politics are part of it.
The quote from Romney speaking to the Republican convention perfectly encapsulated something that will go down in history as a very bad period in American history. A shape-shifting pathological liar and panderer stands before a crowd and television cameras and microphones. He tells the audience a message that pleases people who don’t want to face reality, suggesting what many of them want to believe, that the Earth and its condition are somehow separate from their existence, and nothing to be concerned about, not our problem, and that concern about this physical reality is a damned inconvenience that they need not think about.
For millions of people in the northeastern United States, today, physical reality of the Earth is severely unavoidable.
Empower Citizens Network PAC, which is registered in Akron, purchased a full-page advertisement in The Blade’s Oct. 25 edition making many claims against President Obama and Democrats.
Among the claims made by the ad ……. that “this deep recession was not caused by the Bush tax cuts, Republican lax regulation, or Wall Street greed.”
Instead, it said the nation’s financial troubles were caused by the subprime mortgage collapse that it says was created by Democrats. It blamed presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, along with Janet Reno, Franklin Raines, Chris Dodd, and Barney Frank.
So, who cooked up the idea of securitized mortgages (AKA “mortgage backed securities”)? That allowed people to crank out mortgage loan deals as fast as they could, to anybody and everybody, knowing they could turn around immediately and sell them off to be bundled with other mortgage notes and traded as securities, making their chunk of money off the transactions, and never needing to be concerned about the loans being repaid. People who could get the loans even if they might not be able to afford them thought it would work out one way or another, because they believed real estate prices would rise forever, and people traded the mortgage securities paper with the same notion, sure that just churning away in these transactions would only make piles of money as the stuff kept appreciating in value forever. In came all the impossibly complex games of financial derivatives, credit default swaps, and collateralized debt obligations, thinking this was all a well of infinite free money for nothing.
Then it all blew apart like the house of cards it was.
Where government involvement comes into play was the way all this madness broke loose and multiplied like an out of control nuclear reaction because of government deregulation and neglect, thinking that nothing could go wrong, and where the Democratic party politicians were culpable in all this was in playing along with all these things because the Republican party faction wanted this stuff. And now, more or less the same crowd of Republicans want to be fully in charge.
It’s insanity, and people still fall for it all, all the lying and swindles, for whatever reasons. Pure ignorance, sheer stupidity, some notion that they can get into a game that somehow will work out as piles of money for them, whatever it is, there it is.
On top of all of the above, there’s still an amazing lack of understanding of the effects of petroleum. The worldwide level of petroleum crude extraction rates started bumping up against limits around 2004 to 2005, and has been bumping around in a bumpy plateau ever since, around the range of 72-75 million barrels per day or so, and this continues. It appears that we might be at the worldwide peak, despite all the noisy delusions and cheerful propaganda and the accounting trickery of “unconventional oil” and counting all liquid hydrocarbons as “oil production”.
All of the above madness are things I’ve been writing about here, as many people have been writing and talking about them, and anybody who has been reading it knows that there are these subjects I’ve been talking about fairly repetitively. All of that, the madness and tricks of banking and finance that are basically maintaining illusions in large scale accounting fraud, the limits of finite hydrocarbons and all in means in matters of function and money, still hangs over our heads.
Along with that, of course, is the ongoing ignorance or denial of what’s happening to the Earth as we play our crazy games, including changes to the Earth’s climate, destabilizing the weather patterns of the planet so that what was once incredibly strange and unusual and rare disaster is becoming regular and normal.
In the mess of Superstorm Sandy wiping across the eastern US, there’s the now familiar image of the construction crane that folded up like it was made of coathanger wire and was left dangling in all its huge metallic menace over the streets of Manhattan, as police cleared the area below for blocks around, not knowing if it would fall and how, if it did. That dangling danger is probably a good metaphor.
The political campaign for president has been thrown into a strange limbo by this storm blowing through and causing unbelievably massive wreckage, in all kinds of ways, but the advertising and chattering bullshit from other associated people and organizations continues, as the nonstop mendacity of Willard Romney continues in his stead, even as Romney himself shifts into a mode of trying to look “presidential” by getting himself seen as a helping force by collecting canned goods or whatever he’s up to.
One of the recent new lies from Romney, added to the endless overload of lying, is the bit delivered to a crowd in northwest Ohio telling them a complete falsehood about Jeep and Chrysler, which, even after this has been pointed out as clear complete lying bullshit, is being repeated by Romney and associates, with their insistence that it’s true even after it’s been made clear in the simplest possible terms that he’s lying.
The sheer massive punch of this storm and all its effects, and repercussions waiting to be fully seen, puts the sheer unreality represented by Romney into a stark contrast. The cognitive dissonance of all this is amazing.
We can only hope, in that department, that the shock of reality snaps people out of the consensus trance they’ve been in under that spell.
Beyond that, we can hope that facing the hard reality of Sandy the storm snaps people out of a whole assortment of unreality and nonsense, and as a nation, we start to get a grip on reality again and get on with understanding where we are, how we got here, what we need to do, and get on with things.
There’s a lot of work to do that has just been added to the enormous amount of work we already had stacked up, being ignored.