April 22, 2019
The awful Notre Dame fire struck me as the loss of a friend, a haven, a symbol of permanency in a time of flux, a symbol of values in a time of self-absorption. (A tourist taking a selfie in front of the cathedral is the perfect, mocking, image of the new age). Damage to an architectural wonder of the past is sadly appropriate to a world which knows nothing of beauty and parades nonsense as art and violence as entertainment.
I dislike hanging crepe with every post, but it’s difficult not to see disaster on the horizon. Consider the inevitability of increasing climate-related damage and the physical and social turmoil it will bring. Add the hostile, separatist, violent attitude of many on the right, and the ready availability of weapons, and it becomes easy to imagine civil war or armed chaos. We are politically blocked from preventing the ecological disaster, and predisposed to a primitive response to it.
Look at the state of government. Andrew Wheeler, a former coal-industry lobbyist, recently was confirmed by a docile, irresponsible Senate as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, having been Deputy, then Acting, Administrator since April 2018. That would have been time enough to learn about the climate crisis, if he had any intention of doing so. One lesson might have been the most recent National Climate Assessment, which found that “The impacts of climate change are already being felt in communities across the country.” Wheeler will have none of that: “Most of the threats from climate change are 50 to 75 years out.” There have been no fires and no flooding; the seas haven’t risen or become more acidic; all is well. Wheeler is, of course, in step with his leader.
David Bernhardt was confirmed as Secretary of the Interior this month, having been acting Secretary since January. Already he is the subject of an investigation by the department’s inspector general, following various allegations of ethical violations. His former role as a lobbyist for industries regulated by Interior lies behind the charges.
Trump nominated hacks to positions on the Federal Reserve Board, in an attempt to end its independence. Another appointee recently confirmed, William Barr, has demonstrated that his first duty is to protect the boss. Trump first hailed the Mueller report as exoneration, but later decided it was an “Illegally Started Hoax.” He has one of the great memories of all time, but repeatedly responded to Mueller’s written questions by pleading lack of recall. He vents continually on Twitter, reportedly 50 times in 24 hours Monday and Tuesday.
Ukraine just elected a comedian as president. We have a bad joke.