The Burning Season Is On, Colltalers
There are some fair assumptions we may now make about the catastrophic wild fires in California: they came to stay; they’ll get worse; they are, indeed, direct result of climate change. Oh, and that we’re behind the curve and still unprepared to control them.
Apart from that, last week’s headlines belonged to two other man-made disasters, whose impact we’re beginning to grasp, even if not that startled by either of them: proof that Facebook is politically biased (shock!); and that Brexit won’t work (double shock!).
Unlike what some accused The Beatles of once pretending to be, Facebook is now more popular than that famous Dec. birthday boy. So the NYTimes exposé about how the mammoth social media concern was, all along, concerned only about maintaining its sheer dominance, never mind Russia’s attacks on the U.S. 2016 elections and democracy, came as a surprise to absolutely no one.
It’s been said, hackers did not have to hack voting machines, even as they may’ve tried, or even bribe too many Trump associates. They simply used the system. But Mark Zuckerberg’s repeated appearances and lies, to congressional committees composed mainly of either Internet-challenged or downright dimwitted politicians, have all but confirmed his total lack of a moral compass.
His unbound greed, and the sophomoric culture of highly specialized spoiled brats he inspired, has been for far too long out of reach of any accountability. He built a corporation more powerful than many nations, and it needs to be regulated just like any other is, or should. Thankfully, the U.S. elections held two weeks ago raised new hopes for change. More about that in a minute.
As for Brexit, and the political imbroglio it represented to the U.K., again, few can say they didn’t see it coming. The whole idea of leaving the European Union was sold on false pretenses, by the same snake oil mentality that took over the White House on a delusion of making the U.S. as big as it never was. As reality sets in, here and there, more are realizing that they’ve been had.
Europe needs what’s left of democracy the U.K. has to offer, as the British depend of staying with the union in order
to survive. The flawed dream of a continental coalition of peaceful and democratic nations, not belligerent dictatorships disguised as such, is still worth dreaming and fighting for. Unfortunately, as in other global issues lately, the world can’t count on the U.S. for clarity.
Speaking of new hopes in the horizon, there are grandiose takeaways from the midterm elections, and others not so much, as votes are still being counted, and we’re more than a month for the new term to start. The score, though, was still pretty mixed up.
Over a hundred million votes were cast, a record, but less than 50% of eligible voters showed up at the polls, a disappointment. Women led the charge, electing record numbers to Congress. A few significative ‘firsts,’ in gender, sexual orientation, race and religion, were also of note. On the Republican side, though, only one woman made the cut, among a crowd of angry white men.
Despite GOP-driven gerrymandering, rampant vote suppression, and obscene amounts of corporate cash, Democrats did retake the House, several governorships, and many local contests, which was expected. But Florida, Georgia, and Texas once again held on to conservative candidates, and this election also proved a sad point: vote numbers no longer determine the final outcome.
Now, please explain that to those who voted for the first time. Youth and Latino engagement was arguably the most encouraging sign that change may still be possible, giving that they’re in the vanguard of crucial issues, such as gun control and immigration.
But these ‘new’ demographics may still have a ways to go among Democrats; the party’s leadership has all but orphaned them all.
In fact, a fight for the soul of the party – and who’s going to hold the House gavel – has already erupted. Hardly a bigwig showed up at rallies for women’s rights, gun regulation, wage increases, and race equality, in the past two years. But they’ve been quick to assert command of the Democratic agenda, or ‘status quo maintenance.’ And that’s a mistake; after all, we’ve voted for change.
The fires that may’ve taken over a thousand Californian souls must be addressed by the new blood elected to do just that. Enough of backroom politics; let the Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s ‘diversity armada’ lead the fight that the majority assigned them to fight.
For despite the brutality of climate change and the undeniable impact it’s already having on the planet as a whole, none but one of all green initiatives proposed nationally were approved. So a lot of us are still not getting it and some probably won’t ever.
Again, we can’t wait for them. An overall theme about these elections, despite their shortcomings, heartbreaking losses, and the bitter aftertaste they left, was change. Millions of voters made it clear that they prefer fresh, non-white, young leaders, not the old guard, making decisions affecting them. So, here’s to those crusty Democrats: get on with the program, or get out of the way.
‘You can despise Wikileaks and everything it stands for. You can think (Julian) Assange is an evil spirit reanimated by Putin himself. But you can’t support the prosecution of a publisher for publishing without narrowing the basic rights every newspaper relies on.’ That was Edward Snowden’s twitter on the Dept. of Justice’s possible plan to prosecute Assange, on charges unknown.
It was a honorable gesture for someone who, like him, has sacrificed personal freedom for an ideal of government transparency, even as unlike Snowden, has displayed questionable morals himself. No matter; this being open season on blacks, immigrants, the poor, and other ‘minorities,’ it is a higher priority to fight for a free, non-corporate press, and for government accountability.
A note to mourn the passing of Brazilian writer Aldyr Garcia Schlee, who in 1953, won a designing contest to create Brazil’s legendary yellow jerseys uniform, worn by the soccer national team. He was 18 then and had lived all his life at the border with Uruguay, the team he in fact supported. When he passed last Friday, at 83, Brazil beat Uruguay in London, 1X0. R. I. P., Aldyr.
Perfect matters to take on this Thanksgiving week, but that comes with an important caveat: we’re living in troubled times, and it’s been hard to regain control over our own narrative, as citizens and earthlings. So at Thursday’s dinner table, don’t mention any of the above issues, or pick fights with those who miraculously are still sticking with you. Make this a day you won’t regret. WC