Sunday, June 4, 2017

Our Healing Desert - and Trump

In a quiet way, at 5:30 this morning, I felt as close as I've come in this lifetime to a nervous breakdown.

I won't list the tasks, obligations, and problems that loomed large. I take on too much, most of it well-intentioned, then screw it all up. And in the midst of that, I gotta write a newspaper column? I don't feel like a person with a sufficient understanding of much of anything to presume to speak to others! 

I can't even tell how much of my paralyzing sadness was local in nature, personal, and how much was the oppressive cacophany of disastrous headlines and radio news.

Trump and Bannon seem to be taking us out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, ignoring advice from scientists, citizens, and Fortune-500 businesses. Intelligence officials fear sharing classified information with Trump. European leaders say the U.S. is no longer a dependable ally, with regard to climate but also Russia. Putin robs his country blind, and Trump admires him. Meanwhile Russia and China gleefully take advantage of the opportunities Trump provides. 

Trump tweets that Hillary Clinton “blames everyone but herself, and refuses to say she was a terrible candidate.” There's likely some truth in that; but this clown has a country to run. Why's he wasting energy sticking it to his defeated foe, like a peewee-league football player celebrating a touchdown? Can we imagine any previous president acting this way?

Trump repeats like a mantra that he'll end the “war on coal” and decimate the Environmental Protection Agency. But coal jobs fell by two-thirds in the decades before the EPA came around. Coal workers lost their jobs because of economic conditions and mine-owners' decisions, and they ain't coming back. Trump claims he'll recover those jobs by further polluting our environment. That's so silly that even his own chief economist says coal “doesn't make much sense anymore.” 

Fortunately I have several pails of water to take to the compost bin, housed in an old goat pen some distance from the house. It's often a healing walk. This morning the quail repeating his long, piercing call seems to be saying we'll survive. In the compost, a host of worms are performing their alchemy. The desert is still wearing its marvelous, post-rainfall scent. The sun lurks behind the mountains, and the air is cool and fresh. 

Back near the house, families of quail surround the feed block and water bowls. Black-throated sparrows and red-capped house finches are busy at the feeders. So many baby quail and the sweet wet scent of the desert speak of renewal. Seasons pass. So, perhaps, will this political season – though not without severely damaging our country and our earth.

I can enjoy the bustling but peaceful scene out back or focus on its violent and tragic aspects. When a quail flew – fatally -- into our window, its mate kept up a mournful wail for days. We've watched a bullsnake climb into a tree searching for eggs – and curve-billed thrashers kill bullsnakes. 

Shall I paralyze myself grieving over Trump's ugliness – or consider him like the rain refreshing the desert? His threats to our world make each moment in that world more precious. He bragged he was a unifier. Unwittingly, he is. He's brought together many people of good will to oppose him. There's an appealing energy to these new groups who are giving Trumps and Pearces a hard time. Perhaps, as the civil rights movement and a stupid war turned many of my generation altruistic, this too will spawn needed changemakers. 

Maybe they'll good will trump Trump's harm.

[The above column appeared this morning, Sunday, 4 June 2017, in the Las Cruces Sun-News, as well as on the newspaper's website andKRWG's website.]

[Maybe the funniest news of the week was Trump pompously proclaiming that the world was going to stop laughing at us -- just at the moment the world started laughing uncontrollably at him, and at us for electing him.

[Nothing he said about climate change made even a bit of sense.

Meanwhile, his conduct is rapidly living up to his slogan, "Make America Second-Rate!"  The Russians, Germans, French, and Chinese are quite willing to help, too.  
For example, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang made an appearance Thursday to band together over their commitment to fight climate change.  In a joint press conference with Li in Berlin, Merkel said, "We are living in times of global uncertainty and see our responsibility to expand our partnership in all the different areas and to push for a world order based on law," according to Reuters.  Merkel added, "China has become a more important and strategic partner."  Li said China has "stayed true to its commitment" that it made when it signed the Paris Agreement. China emits the highest levels of carbon dioxide in the world, with the United States ranking second. "Fighting climate change is a global consensus, not invented by China," Li said, in a reference to a tweet by Trump in 2012. 
A fair English translation of all that would be, "If Trump's leading the U.S. into a fantasy world of denial, we'll take over leading the adults in this world." 
Massachusetts U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey warned that leaving the 195-nation deal would be a sign the U.S. is letting go of its global leadership position.  Senator Markey added, “It is going to be a statement that we are withdrawing from global leadership, that we are not accepting our responsibility, and that we are not going to take advantage of this huge economic opportunity in wind, in solar, in clean energy jobs, generally in all electric vehicles, to drive the economy of the 21st century.”
“Instead, they are going to cede this economic terrain to the Chinese, to the Germans, to the Indians, and others, who are going to move forward almost with thanks to the United States," he continued.

Ceding leadership of NATO to Germany and France, and inviting Russia's interference or intimidation, is another prong of our voluntary weakening of the U.S. on the world stage.  When Trump is so admiring of Putin, and so unable to stop yapping even when his words endanger allies' operatives, why wouldn't the world be laughing at us.   (Just after finishing these notes I read "Globe Heaps Scorn on Trump for Paris Exit")

By contrast, Obama was a thoughtful, prudent man with judgment, discretion, and taste.   He didn't need to proclaim his greatness constantly, as Mr. Trump does, because Obama either didn't think he was great or didn't worry so damned much about it.  He was more about learning the facts and getting the job done.  He was far from perfect, but pretty damned good.

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