In the three months I have been preoccupied with health problems I have allowed the purpose for which I set up this site 21 years ago to languish. That purpose was to be a sounding board, a place where I could express myself on any subject of my choosing. It’s not so much that I believe my thoughts about anything are of particular significance, it’s more that after spending a lifetime at the typewriter, writing has become a sort of reflex action for me, and this is a place where I can continue to write.
But if I had just awakened from a sort of Rip Van Winkle sleep, I might have been excused if I had thought I was in a world that had completely changed, a world that I could hardly recognize. Subjects ripe for my sounding off board lie around by the dozen, headed, of course by the current President of the United States. Who could have believed it, that this great country, so proud of its democratic heritage (even though it was founded by an elite of slave owners who set the nation up to defend their own interests above everything), could have elected to leadership a man totally unsuited to the job. Moreover, a man whose every fault was already apparent, whose narcissism, prevarications, indifference to the truth, ignorance of the world and its workings, and absorption in trivialities, were already well-known. Yet 67 million Americans voted for him to become president and even if he didn’t win the overall popular vote, he won through the peculiar Electoral College system that judges the votes state by state and sometimes allows the second runner to emerge as winner.
As if all this is unbelievable enough, it is as nothing compared with the chaos this man has created in the brief time he has been in office. Truly, it is amateur time: apparently he spends most of his day glued to the television, and he writes twitter notes which are absorbed by the millions of people who have signed up to receive these 140-character emissions. Government by tweet? He boasts about having passed more legislation in a short time than any president in history, whereas he actually appears not to have passed any legislation at all. He governs by signing executive orders that do no more than establish intent.
His Cabinet is full of billionaires whose attitudes are typical of that class of people, and who think nothing of wiping out the hard-won regulatory framework used to try to haul the United States back from its path of destruction of the natural world, and its headlong descent into oligarchy. It seems to be an obsession with him to reverse everything that Barack Obama achieved, both in the United States itself (the modified and improved, but still inadequate, health care system); in international agreements (the Paris climate change treaty accepted by all but two of the world’s smaller nations; the multinational agreement with Iran designed to prevent that country from achieving a nuclear weapon, which this new president refuses to accept and constantly threatens to destroy)…..and so it goes on. How can anyone say anything good about all this?
The fact that this irresponsible and vainglorious narcissist has his finger on the nuclear button is an almost unspeakable fact that could plunge the world into a conflagration at virtually any time. A new feature of every political interview with leaders from around the world is that none of them has any idea what is the current US policy in any area and they cannot express any opinion about what might happen in the immediate future. This is hardly a recipe for global stability.
As for our own little corner of the world, our new youngish leader governs mostly by personal charm, which he is not slow to exercise, and seems to be headed in a much more reasonable direction than the above-mentioned US leader. Nevertheless, there are strong signs of his trying to have his cake and eat it too: his Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, achieved a high level of hypocrisy when she said that the government of which she is a part had the dual responsibilities of playing a leading role in the international fight against climate change, and of “getting our resources to market.” In other words, approve and build pipelines that would not only pose a threat to lands through which they carry the heavy bitumen oil of the Alberta tar sands, the world’s most polluting single industry, but would also allow that industry to be expanded, instead of being shut down as it will have to be if the world is to be saved from irreparable consequences. Personal charm and photo ops are all very well, but when they are used to protect such damnable industries, it is time to look around for a more principled leader.
That’s enough for the moment: I am just working back into form….