Saturday, February 18, 2017


After watching Trump’s performance at his “extended” news conference, it is clear that he is a self-resolving problem.  What I mean is that he plainly has — in addition to an intractable character structure — something organic, probably Alzheimers.  Maybe a tumor or stroke.  The point is that these health problems are progressive and lead to death.  Until now he has not had good health care.  That deficit can’t really be made up now by any highly qualified doctors and no one seems to be making any effort anyhow.  

He is not organized enough to be a threat.  But he is good cover for people who ARE a threat and who can pretend that he is the source of things they are actually doing.  It would be worthwhile to find out who his puppeteers are so that we know what to expect when Trump dies.  We do NOT know when he will die or become de-mented enough to be as good as dead, sitting and staring, but he is not going to be a two-term president.

To stop obsessing about this man and give up the pleasures of reviling him, which are fun but really too easy to be proud of, is to have the energy and focus to address two other categories of problems.  One is the organizational design challenge, for one instance to do something about the electoral college that leads us into the swamp.  

I see that Earl Blumenauer, whom I know and respect from Portland, is moving in the direction of improving the 25th Amendment to include “instability” as well as suggesting an alternative to the President's cabinet as the body responsible for the trap door.  Both the cabinet and the Supreme Court are currently incomplete.  Blumenauer suggests a sort of “Presidents Emeritus” panel.  I’d be happier with a panel of former president’s wives, but Hilary is a deal-breaker for a lot of people.

In terms of organizational design, we have just about exhausted the institutions and systems that emerged from WWII.  There was no internet then.  That alone has changed the practice of politics as much as it has changed the other cultural elements, like music or publishing.  Old ways are simply gone.

The other work that badly needs to be done is a hard look at the principles of democracy which once seemed obvious.  Science and suffering have challenged the vision developed by the British Empire about commerce and families, the necessity of trade and the English upper class conscience as  God-given.  Now we see a penetrable membrane of living beings, interwoven, stretching around the planet and defining each other.  This conception makes no sense at all to most people today, but it is true in the most rigorous sense, demonstrated by instruments and confirmed by calculations.  We need people like the Bioneers to explore government options that are not based on adversaries.

The planet is a molten-hearted round rock with a triple cortex of earth, air and water, each moving in circuits and supplying nutrients.  Tectonic plates carry continents that guide the currents of air and ocean.  We create boundaries of governance that are sometimes guided by continental features like mountains and sometimes by the natural (but moving) edges of waterways.  

Then we try to drive straight-line borders across them, straight line delivery systems through them.  Here are two illustrations created from piecing together many Google maps.  The straight, surveyed, 49th parallel along Canada is not at all like the Rio Grande River along Mexico with it’s loops and splits.  How is it possible to build a wall without crossing and re-crossing the river?  The southern boundary of the Blackfeet rez is Birch Creek, a smaller stream, which still occasionally changes its stream bed, causing ownership problems.



On the west side, Montana is a place of mountains where cities cluster in valleys.  On the east side it is a vast flat land interrupted by badlands but few cities.  The people and needs of the two kinds of land create two quite different and conflicting political outlooks.  The same is true of Oregon and Washington.  Would it make sense to separate the two kinds of land into two separate ecological states?  Or do the differences act as checks and balances on each other?  

Why do the coasts of the USA not interact in positive ways with the great prairies in the middle instead of scoffing at them as “flyover country”?  Should the megacities accept a different kind of governance and taxation?  Valier itself has a “doughnut hole” problem: the services are inside the town limits, but the wealth and children are on the ranches outside the town.

Now that through internet connection lands can relate to each other without being contiguous, suppose there were one kind of unified governance for the grasslands of the planet no matter which continent they stretched across, and another kind of governance for the sheets of population along the coasts?  I would argue that this is already in existence to some degree (sister cities) and ought to be a starting point that could address shared crises like global warming or plastic debris contamination of the seas.  But what would be the role of a "nation"?

Enough fantasy.  Let’s be practical.  Term limits seem obviously needed to break up the careers of professional politicians who spend their time raising money.  Rethinking criminalization and a return to our original founding premises, like innocent until proven guilty (no incarceration on mere suspicion) and no civil seizure of wealth outside the law.  We need to address pandemics without creating stigma.  Instead of preventing abortion, we should prevent conception by unsuitable persons.  We need close scrutiny of “religious” institutions, but tolerance for “religious” concepts and greater understanding for what that really means.

Education must be lifelong because information and conceptions are now changing daily.  Energy sources should be as local as possible — ideally household by household — to eliminate the tangles of pipes and wires across the land.  Wind and solar energy need the kind of subsidy as fossil fuel.

It’s not just that Trump will be lucky to live long enough to finish his elected term, but that his entire generation will soon be gone.

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