Thursday, January 01, 2015

A Look Forward and a Last Look Back

Well, 2014 is in the history books and what a year it was too. We had a missing plane, more beheadings by black clad religious nut jobs who shouldn't be allowed to play with sharp objects, shootings and protests over alleged racial bias while most of us, regardless of race, thought racism was finally a thing of the past. Turns out that it's alive and well, and can found among the well dressed race baiters in suits and ties in lieu of those previously in hoods. We've seen looting and burning, all in the name of justice allegedly denied---the logic of that simply escapes me.

There was, of course, the invasion of Crimea and further saber rattling along the Ukrainian border, punctuated by a downed airliner and the innocent dead. Let's talk about real justice denied. We had North Korea doing its own saber rattling and hacking Sony...or did they? Putin continued grow in political stature while the rest of world scoffed at the United States, or to be more specific, it's political leadership or lack thereof. We witnessed a political spanking of the Democrats at the midterm elections by the GOP while the public's approval for either party or even the not-so-supreme Supreme Court continued to plummet into single digit numbers. Both parties are just different flavors of the same bland Kool-aid and we're finally realizing it with now nearly 50% of voters registered as Independent.

America officially became an oligarchy in 2014 as we lost the democratic republic bequeath to us by Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Hancock, and numerous others (my personal favorite being Sam Adams). Benjamin Franklin was famously asked while leaving the Constitutional Convention of 1787 if we had been given a republic or monarchy. Without hesitation, Franklin remarked that we had been given a republic if we can keep it. Well, ole Ben, We the People failed to keep vigilance over your republic like you warned, but the upside is that we have reality TV, iPods, smart phones, and video games, so who needs freedom?

Obama, that clown prince of, well, political clowns, again decided to ignore the American People and issued an executive order proposing amnesty for some 5 or 6 million illegal immigrants. The good news is that the other 5 or 6 million are still illegal at least for now. We had some 60,000 children dumped on our southern border and despite "promises" they would be sent to their nearest relative or sponsor, they seemingly "vanished". Some 96% of them simply didn't show up...and to think they even "promised" too. Huh. What do you think about that? And what has been done to locate these missing waifs? Uh, that would be nothing. Mostly because then Attorney General Eric Holder didn't want them found and restricted border agents from making arrests, and besides, Obama cut the budget for ICE and immigration enforcement. Oh, and the criminal gangs which accompanied these individuals across the border? You know, the ones known for their violence? Seems nothing has been done to find them either.

We saw some pretty nasty weather in 2014 too. Seems like if wasn't forest fires and droughts, it was record levels of snow fall, mudslides, and flooding (is California even still there?). It seems the Arctic Circle is continuing to melt and yet the Antarctic appears to growing, by some 6,600 square miles since 1978. But is this because of a warming planet, a normal natural cycle, Man, or simply the case of a seriously miffed Mother Nature? Personally, I don't think there's a clear cut answer. I have no doubt that the planet is warming, albeit not all at once and not evenly throughout the planet. We also have consider that for its 4.54 billion year history, the earth has not been a very hospitable place. Its climate has ranged from being a molten furnace with a atmosphere comprised of mostly sulfur and methane to a lifeless dirty snowball devoid of anything approaching a sustainable atmosphere.

Man has been fortunate to have existed during a rather stable period, albeit with a few ice age events. Nevertheless, given the population of the earth---some 7 billion souls (which is approaching the maximum sustainablity of 9 to 11 billion), and the levels of pollution we pump into the air, ground, and oceans, as well as the over production of the soil (with or without genetically modified seeds), there's no way that I can see that Man has not and is not dramatically affecting the climate. Is it all Man's fault? No. I think a certain amount is the result of natural climatic changes, but we are having a negative impact. Accordingly, we must think in terms of what we as a species can do to minimize our environmental impact, and that means curtailing the emissions we pump into the air, the deforestation of jungles and primordial forests, and over harvesting of the oceans and soil. Naturally, that's not in the best interests of short sighted governments or profit driven corporations who care for nothing about the consequences.

On a related issue, we are no less dependent on oil. More effort needs to go into solar, wind, and hydro power. While our dependence
on Middle Eastern oil is lower, it's not low enough and as long as we depend in any significant degree on Middle Eastern oil, we will be tied to the quagmire that passes for Middle Eastern politics. However, every effort to develop alternative energy sources is met with stiff resistance by the oil industry; it's in their economic interest to ensure our dependence on oil, and on them, even if it includes invading oil rich countries under whatever pretext happens to be handy. I know this won't go down well with many of my conservative and libertarian friends, but since---as the oil and natural gas industry claim---energy is a matter of national security, we should nationalize the energy industry; control its production, storage, and delivery, which of course, includes price. Even if it's not nationalized, it needs to be stringently regulated. We also need to create industry based cleanup funds instead of taxpayer based funds. If a particular company is abandoned or sold but unable to cleanup any environmental damage, rather the public being responsible, I think the industry should be responsible. This would give it a measure of self-policing and with it, self regulating responsibility.

So with that said, what is in store for us in 2015? Well, dusting off the ole crystal ball, let's peer if we can into the not so distant future. I think 2015 will mostly be a continuation of 2014 in most respects. We will continue to see groups like ISIS evolve; expand in places while contracting in others. We'll learn that ISIS, like Al Qaeda, are manifestations of US foreign policy if not outright creations of the CIA and similar groups. However, many more innocent bystanders are yet to die over religion. The family and friends of those killed at Benghazi will find no justice. The wall of silence has firmly been erected by the Washington elites. There will be a lot of the usual political posturing and jockeying for position by would be 2016 presidential candidates. In the end, there won't be anyone or anything new. More dirt. More lies. More scandels. Meanwhile, the patience and temper of the American will grow shorter. Washington doesn't get it. We don't want more rhetoric. Talk of "reform" means nothing. PR firms and political handlers will begin work in earnest but their message will fall on largely deaf ears. Americans want a total and complete overhaul of a political system which no longer represents us, and that means everyone in Washington must go; no exceptions. I think we'll see even more protests and perhaps violence as the American People seem to finding their voice, and their backbone.

I think there will be repeated attempts to stoke the racial fires,, mostly by professional race baiters, and by the power elites who have more to lose by a united people than by any riots or lootings. Americans are waking up to the fact that much of these divisions between us are manufactured. Those pulling the strings need us divided and at each other's throats lest we begin to focus on those actually responsible for what's happening. The illegal immigration topic will continue much as before. The People say "no". The government say "we don't care".

Technology will keep marching on as methods and means to redirect our attention with newer and brighter "shiny objects" continue. To be sure, some of it will actually be useful while much will be simply to keep us diverted from what really matters. More bread and circuses as the Romans said. Social media will expand and morph while the powers that be will renew their efforts to control, regulate, and tax it. That must not ever be allowed to happen.

Internationally, tensions will continue, especially in the Middle East. I wouldn't be surprised to see something happen to trigger a nearly all out confrontation between Israel and perhaps some radical Moslems---possibly Hamas, Al Qaeda, and/or ISIS? If that happens, prepare for all hell to break lose. Israel doesn't back down and Israel does not lose. Tensions between Pakistan and India will flare up over the disputed territory of Kashmir. Ultimately, a joint administration will have to be worked out. North Korea will continue to publicly make threats while quietly behind the scenes and probably through Chinese back channels, looks for ways to end its economic and political isolation. The key is doing so in a way that makes it look like the West blinked first. Russia will continue to flex its muscle and will find some surprising new friends in Europe, especially Germany. The key will be another face saving measure but in the Ukrainian-Crimea region; perhaps a reduction or removal of NATO missile and monitoring sites which now ring Russia's southern frontiers or allowing forward placed early warning sites in Poland and southeastern Europe--- or even in former East Germany in exchange for a Russian withdrawal? Europe has found that it can no longer count on the US until there is a change in regimes, and perhaps even a change in governance. That works to Russia's advantage. With China as the top economy in the world, look for it to start flexing its muscle, and matching it with its military, long the largest in the world, as it continues to acquire vital mineral, water, and agricultural rights. Cuba needs to be careful of its new relationship with the US.

All in all, I think 2015 will see the world better off than it was in 2014, even if only slightly. People have increasingly become aware of our interconnectedness, whether we want it or not. We have also come to see that other peoples are not the villains we've been told they were, but that's not to say there aren't plenty of villains out there. Most of us want pretty much the same things like living our lives in peace with our friends and family. However, the biggest villains seem to be the ones we call "leaders" or more specifically, those behind the scenes pulling the strings. Only as a united people, regardless of where we call home, or our religion, or our skin color, gender, or sexual orientation, can we find the peace we all want. So what do you think? Is 2015 a good time to start? I think so. Happy New Year everyone!

Opposite behaviors? Arctic sea ice shrinks, Antarctic grows

How Many People Can Earth Support?

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