It is Christmas time, actually just past the big day of Christmas day itself. To many people, having completely adopted the concept of Christmas as the official Consumer Holiday of The Year, this means “Christmas is over”, although it is not. That is a subject all its own, and I hope that the few readers here are having a nice time. In any case, now being into the week between Christmas and the new year, the last week of the calendar year, there is naturally a period of various end of year review.
A mildly ironic and stupid little moment popped up in passing in daily life a few days ago.
I ordered a pizza for pickup at a local favorite place and went to get it. Picture the scene, a typical American small business building consisting of a row of businesses along a common walkway along the storefronts facing a parking lot. There was the pizza place, a carryout store, a bar down at the other end, a couple other businesses.
Getting there, to spend all of a couple of minutes to get my pizza and head back home, I found a fairly crowded parking lot, and, this being a very brief stop, ended up parking down around the corner of the building alongside other cars parked in spaces going along the side blank wall of the building at the end, slipping in alongside what was actually the last marked parking space, still out of the way.
As I walked away from the car down the sidewalk, a guy carrying a pizza he had obviously just picked up took it upon himself to loudly proclaim “that’s not a parking spot”, evidently talking to me (as I glanced and then ignored him), as he was in the process of getting into the passenger seat of a car that was parked in front of the store right there by the corner of the building where I parked temporarily, except this car was parked out in front, in the passage area between the building and the front parking lot, in the area of these sort of places usually marked by a posted sign saying something like “fire lane-no parking”, complete with yellow painted curb to indicate a no parking zone. But he evidently thought it was very important to stop and take a moment of his time to inform me that where I had parked, around the corner out of the way of either walking people of motor vehicles, taking a moment to think about it and consider the situation and other people before I did so, was not actually within the marked parking spaces.
This knucklehead seemed to think that he was doing some public service as if he had encountered some perfectly healthy human being who had just taken up a handicapped parking space.
It was a passing moment of trivial stupidity that ordinarily would be something to brush away and forget immediately, but it started to resonate a bit and get me thinking. Right now, we have this strange flurry of noise of memes about “fake news”, with people righteously declaring that other people are guilty of being unwitting foolish victims and propagators of “fake news” when the news in question is actually solid journalism telling people the truth, with facts, details, and analysis, while the righteous condemnation of “fake news” is projected by people who are swallowing whole what is supposed to be “real news”, “legit news media”, feeding them overwhelming piles of sheer propaganda, utter bullshit that sometimes ends up being an almost complete inversion of the truth of reality.
I actually borrowed a title for this note, as it seemed perfect for right now. It was the title for a recent essay by the blog writer Brutus on The Spiral Staircase (which I finally added to the “blogroll” links to your lower right after some delay). No, I don’t know his real name. Maybe that is his real name.
It seemed like a perfect title theme right now. We have an onslaught of metaphorical fog machines in action, and people really are being blinded and thoroughly confused.
In an interesting bit of coincidence, browsing the web I came across a Facebook item linking to an article on the Slate website. It showed an art gallery installation that you can go look at quickly, with the commentary about how there’s probably a pretty good metaphor there for online comment battles, particularly of the “Twitter war” variety. It involves, quite literally, fog machines.
In a profound twist of irony, some random online human responded to this saying “It’s not a good metaphor. There should be a rock of understanding shedding the condensate of irrational belief.”. I had to jump in and point out- except for all the cases where it’s essentially swirling clouds of conflicting irrational belief… with the twist being that each of them probably think they are “the rock of understanding shedding the condensate of irrational belief”. And off they go.
I suspect, almost expect, that if I check back on that, the Facebook post will then be followed by a vast number of comments chattering away in a comment war of their own.
There are, of course, people working hard to counteract all that and bright a little light and fresh air, and, mostly, they are ignored completely, toiling in relative obscurity, and often completely dismissed and even mocked and ridiculed.
Ugo Bardi, in an installment of his Cassandra’s Legacy blog, took some time considering the likely course of a President Trump “energy policy”, generally regarding it to be probably maybe not so good.
A recent post in his regular Thursday blog from John Michael Greer took time to address what he generally summed up as the apparent failure of “the peak oil movement”.
I must say that I think there might be a bit of a problem with the use of the word “movement”, maybe more now than in the past, because of the way the word can be infused by people with notions of a sort of fashion, or implying a kind of aroma of a clique, a club, even a kind of cult, a defined grouping where you are either in or outside, a member or not, even “you’re for us or against us”.
But let’s move on. Greer, as he does on a regular basis, does a nice job of getting something in perspective and conveying a snapshot of actual reality through the confusion and noise. He does seem to be very right about a serious problem, which is that people trying to get people’s heads around the reality of our oil situation, with the term “peak oil” as a useful sort of subject heading shorthand reference, have had a hell of a time getting it across to people enough to reach a widespread public understanding and consensus. Although the subject does get a little complex, as I’ve already discussed many times here, much more complicated than being a matter of “well, is the oil going to be all gone soon or not?”, it really is not that damned complicated to understand for anybody with a reasonable level of education and intelligence.
I have written about all this before, the way that people will respond to any information about this subject by some sort of pure reflex rejection, often based on the political madness I’ve been talking about for a long time. Some belch out all the tropes they have been fed telling them that the new wonder miracle technologies of fracking (hydraulic fracturing extraction techniques) have unlocked endless wealth of oil to serve our needs endlessly (nonsense) or that oil concerns will be irrelevant artifacts of a dark unenlightened past once we simply switch over to “clean green renewable alternative energy”, which, by the way, once again, seems to be seen as simply a matter of being a political problem.
In this general subject, like many others, the fog machines churn out endless obfuscation blinding people, and so often, people see everything in terms of competition between opposing fog machines, except that, in their minds, their fog machines are not any such thing, but, instead, bring light and clarity to fight the evils of the fog machines of The Other Side.
I bring up the oil topic considering one of the announced proposals for President Trump administration cabinet members, naming Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, who turns out to be the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Exxon Mobil, the vast giant oil company.
There is an entire subject to be mined just in the larger topic of possible and likely Trump appointments to his cabinet and other positions. Just consider the possible appointment of former Texas governor Rick Perry as Secretary of the Department of Energy, an idea that takes us to a new level of farce. There is apparently a plan afoot to name as Secretary of the Department of Education somebody who is fundamentally against the whole concept of public schools.
There is probably quite a lot to be said about the idea of the corporate management head of a giant corporation becoming one of the President’s cabinet, especially the nature of the business he heads and the nature of the department of the federal government he would head. So what seems to be the big issue banging around in the public discussion realm? It appears that, to many people, the big issue, nearly a crisis, an outrage even, is that evidently Tillerson has established and civil relationships with people in power in Russian business and government, including the current President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin.
It might be a reasonable thought to think that somebody who is being considered for the job of being the head diplomat of the United States government having established and friendly relationships with the government of another major nation in the world might be a good and positive thing. Of course, unfortunately, it comes as no surprise at all to find that in the insane mob scenes that are current American political fixtures, many people are going completely bonkers about that.
It’s a handy bit of timing that the Monday December 26 installment of James Howard Kunstler’s Clusterfuck Nation blog takes a brief summary look at the ending administration of President Barack Obama, which notably includes a few paragraphs on the “foreign affairs” portion of events. In that, he sums up very well and very concisely a large chunk of the complete madness that has been a feature of official US foreign policy over the relevant years, which has effectively and essentially a continuation of the previous eight years of the two terms of Bush/Cheney. That, in simplest terms, has meant a certain continuity of the neoconservative/neoliberal mindset, and agenda, with the Obama years oddly including a turn of that cult of madness into bizarre hostilities directed especially toward Russia, and also China.
This is an ongoing subject, with there being a strange and fairly sinister continuation of President George W. Bush’s simplistic declaration of “you’re either for us or against us”, with a thread of continuity of the neocon cult as laid out years ago by the now (officially, at least) Project for the New American Century. That included, and was pretty much based fully upon, the declaration that the USA was, as of the early nineties and the collapse of the USSR, the undisputed ruler of the world, and anybody who did not get on board with the program and follow orders from Washington was The Enemy. (Cue Orwellian booing and jeering and angry shouting from the mob.)
That, we’re told, is the big problem. Oh my God, the proposed Secretary of State has good relations with people in the government of another nation?! What madness! He must be stopped!
Again, I will direct you to Kunstler’s summary for a concise review of how this mad state of public affairs came to be, but the obvious problem, or what should be obvious, anyway, is not the perceived problem of mob mentality, seeing the Tillerson job proposal as more evidence of Russian takeover of the American government by agents of the Russian government under command of the Evil Villain Putin, but that people think this is the problem. That is the big problem.
But, then, of course, given this lunatic state of affairs, even talking about this will trigger the people caught up in the madness to start spewing nonsense, including the implication or explicit accusation that you must be a Russian agent, a Russian propagandist, or at the very least a poor misguided foolish “useful idiot” of the Russian/Putin plan for conquest of America and world domination.
This whole subject cracks open all kinds of disturbing ugliness, which I have already been talking about for some time. We get into the dreaded bipolar political disorder and all that brings. That includes, again, as I have been saying, people who really should be smarter and know better, who also position themselves as devoted loyalists to the party of Brand D, “Left”, and “Liberal”, getting thoroughly lost at sea and buying into mob mentality lunacy and confusion. In something that keeps bringing up the idea that history does not repeat, but sometimes it sort of rhymes, this kind of thing takes me back to pondering the ugly chapter of American history a little over sixty years ago of Senator Joe McCarthy and the witchhunt madness that had him as a central player and conductor.
I do think that maybe the “doesn’t repeat, but sometimes it rhymes” part throws some people who, as I said, should know better, thinking of themselves as people who learn from history, because they look at recent and current events and situations and don’t see similarities and resonances to things of the past, because they are not exactly the same.
There are loads of people who, in the course of placing themselves as devoted loyal members of Brand D, have been swept up in astonishing and puzzling irrational nonsense, disconnecting from reality, somehow managing to follow along a path of madness remarkably like a somewhat similar path of madness and disconnection from reality demonstrated for years now by people seeing themselves as dedicated to Brand R, “the Right”, “Conservative”, complete with political party lying and lunacy and an assortment of media nonsense leading them by a leash. In any kind of end of year review, that seems like something that should be a major item, with some amount of focus on the extraordinary phenomenon of people like I’m talking about somehow, incredibly, placing themselves in the position of being dedicated and vocal supporters of Hillary Clinton as a choice to be President of the United States.
If you go and read Kunstler’s essay, the larger subject in the essay where he summarizes the foreign policy insanity is an assessment of the Obama presidency as it comes to an end. It’s a pretty fair, accurate, concise assessment, and one grounded in reality that is likely to be lost on all sorts of people who are lost in different kinds of confusion and delusion, depending on which group of the bipolar political disorder they have fallen into. I suspect this is even worse now, among people who file themselves under the Brand D/Left/Liberal grouping, given the approaching inauguration of Donald Trump as President. It’s understandable to some degree, considering just a basic personal comparison of Obama and Trump as human beings, but there is definitely an aroma of people regarding the now ending of the Obama era with, let’s say, a certain amount of rose colored glasses alteration of perception and understanding.
It amazes me to see people afflicted with this who are practically falling over each other to see who can heap the greatest praise about the wondrous miracle and golden era of the Obama presidency that is often absurdly disconnected from reality. Part of this is the clearly evident failure of so many people to recognize how much of the Obama presidency was a continuation of the neocon agenda, not only continuing on from where Bush and Cheney left off (you really do have to consider them as a pair in this stuff), but arguably going even further, making it worse (ref: Libya, Ukraine, Syria, and an overall overriding campaign to poke Russia and China with pointed sticks as often as possible).
I could not predict what Rex Tillerson would be as Secretary of State. One thing does come to mind, in general, and that is that in his present job, there is simply no way I can believe that he does not know the oil situation we have and face in the future, the work of Hubbert and other oil specialist geologists and what the term “peak oil” actually means, and all the rest. He would have to be hopelessly negligent and incompetent to not be fully aware of the reality, whatever public façade of PR hype oil companies might put on as a dog and pony show for the general population.
As part of the basics he would certainly be aware of not just the reality of diminishing returns we are already into, but also that in recent years, the highest rate of oil extraction has been from Russia, followed by Saudi Arabia, followed in third by the USA (where we use so much of the stuff that we still have to import as much as we pull out of our own ground). In that light, it would be reasonable to think that he sees no use at all in this current insanity that has been built up over the last few years of hysterics that Russia must be made an enemy, the Russians are coming to get us, Vladimir Putin wants to take over Europe, the United States, and the whole world.