Horizon

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Horizon

I drank from a hidden fountain:
everything stopped,
sound froze,
cracked, fell to the ground as powder;
light melted,
dripped, clung to the skin like sweat,
sank in.
I breathed in cold darkness
and exhaled puffs of light,
my eyes illuminated everything,
my vision bore through steel,
rocks, smoke;
mirrors evaporated.
I closed my eyes
and saw a brilliant azure sea
caressing a band of dazzling white
stretching away past the edges of sight,
fringing the toes of flower strewn dunes;
the air alive, vibrant, yet light as grace,
and all in a shower of warmth
under the luminous dome of sky.
My eyes opened,
I saw my other cell mates,
“We can get out,” I said,
“You must leave,” they replied,
“Come, let me show you,”
I said, leading them to the great iron door,
it was unlocked, as always.
I opened it, walked out,
calling for them to follow, saying
“We are always free.”

They closed the door behind me,
pushing hard to keep it sealed,
“Go, do not come back, do not speak,”
they screamed without speaking,
“Wolves will eat your flesh,
your bones will lie in the open,”
they cried in fearful anger
and returned to their cells.
I can see them,
each staring at the texture of the bricks
in the walls of their cells,
pining for freedom,
clinging to the certainty of parallel isolation.
And I am cast out, left to die,
wandering the dunes, eating wild strawberries,
watching the flight of birds,
the unfolding of clouds,
listening to the hymn of wind across sand,
the fall of water into the embrace of surf,
sheets of water wiping the face of the beach,
the hissing kiss of foam on wet sand.
Mountains have grown and been ground flat,
washed into the sea –
and still, I am here.

17 April 2002

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Poet Blood

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Poet Blood

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”
– Henry David Thoreau, Walden

“We be of one blood, ye and I.”
– Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book

It is said one lives longer
if part of some community.
Does this mean outcasts
are slowly being murdered by society?,
and hermits are invisible suicides?
Both might see
a deadzone of spirit and intuition
in the congenial orthodoxies
and mindless homogeneities of social convention.
If so, then what does it mean to ‘live longer,’
and who, indeed, has really ‘lived?’
And for our loners,
driven by the unrelenting power of their visions of truth,
do their solitary paths
weave into some tenuous fabric of kinship?,
like castaways
trading messages in bottles across an indifferent sea?;
or cougars
spraying their pungent declarations on distant outcrops?
Some of them, I know,
distill experience down to its essence, its nuggets, its salts,
and throw these back as poems into an unsensing world,
knowing there are others like them
also casting,
also, occasionally, breathing in the sting
of newly found insight:
“We be of one blood, ye and I.”

30 December 2001

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Climate Change Denial Is Murder

Climate change denial by government is murder by weather.

By now everyone everywhere knows that climate change is a reality, especially the deniers who are simply lying to cover up their real intent, which is to continue with their capitalist schemes of self-aggrandisement even to the point of knowingly letting people die as a consequence.

During the last two weeks, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and José, in succession, have formed in the tropical Atlantic Ocean to sweep northwest through the Caribbean toward the southern coasts of North America. Harvey has flooded hundreds of thousands of dwellings in the Gulf Coast area of Texas around Houston. Irma, the “lawnmower from the sky,” and the strongest Category 5 (out of 5) hurricane ever recorded, is just making landfall in Florida after razing a number of the smaller Caribbean islands; and Hurricane José is now sweeping into the Caribbean Sea from the east. Climate change denier and right-wing propagandist Rush Limbaugh, lounging in his Florida Xanadu, had called the official weather forecasts of Hurricane Irma’s path “fake news,” but has just heeded those same forecasts by evacuating from the storm, as well as from personal responsibility.

Climate change (as global warming) doesn’t “cause” hurricanes, it makes them more powerful and more frequent. Warmer oceans more easily evaporate, increasing the atmospheric moisture available for rain, and increasing the atmospheric heat energy available for driving winds. It takes heat to evaporate liquid water into vapor. Such vapor rising from the ocean surface mixes with the atmosphere. At higher elevations where the air temperature is lower, or in the presence of cold air currents, water vapor can lose its heat energy to the air and condense into droplets of liquid water. The heat energy released by water vapor to condense back into liquid – the latent heat of vaporization – is sizable (per unit mass of H2O) and adds to the energy of motion of the air molecules and air currents: wind. So, global warming makes for more moisture in the air over tropical ocean waters, and more heat energy in that air to drive winds and storms.

The scientific facts about global warming have been known for a very long time, and were largely learned through government-funded research. US Government officials, as in the George W. Bush administration and now in the Donald Trump administration, who publicly deny these facts – excruciatingly documented and warehoused by the scientific, technical, military and commercial agencies of the US Government – are simply voicing bald-faced lies, and are thus betraying their official and constitutional responsibilities to the American public. Since this lying (and its enabling of continued greenhouse gas pollution) is done knowingly and for monetary gain, and the consequential more violent weather (droughts, hurricanes, floods) erupting from today’s global warming climate change always causes fatalities, then that climate change denial is at the very minimum an accessory to criminally negligent manslaughter, and without a reasonable doubt to premeditated murder.

Outline History of Awareness of Climate Change

What follows is a timeline, which I first made for myself in 2013, of the development of scientific knowledge about climate change. This summary outline includes some of the incidents of the intimately related “world energy crisis,” which I define as getting enough energy for a decent standard of living worldwide, coupled with the commercial competition between: fossil fuel energy versus nuclear energy versus solar/green energy.

Both fossil fuel energy and nuclear energy are intrinsically capitalist forms of resource hoarding and market exploitation, because they are extracted from the Earth at specific locations, burned to generate electricity at large and complex industrial plants, and distributed widely and distantly through a large electrical transmission line distribution grid.

On the other hand, solar/green energy is intrinsically a socialist or public commons type of energy resource because it is naturally abundant everywhere – like sunshine and wind – and is easily converted to electricity wherever it is collected. It is because of its intrinsic socialist (anti-capitalist) nature that solar and green energy are being legally attacked and restricted in US political jurisdictions controlled by rabidly capitalist special interests. The outline now follows.

The clock for a public policy response to the “energy crisis” (now enlarged to “Global Warming” and “Climate Change”) started ticking in October 1973 with the First Arab Oil Embargo (1973 Oil Crisis), and we’ve yet to get off our asses in response to the alarm (40+ years later).

Four years later, the energy problem was serious enough for President Jimmy Carter to address the nation about it on the 202nd anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride (18 April 1977). See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tPePpMxJaA

Peak Oil was the fear in 1977, not Global Warming, even though science had been certain about Global Warming since 1955-1957.

What follows is a very brief synopsis of the scientific development of knowledge about Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW, which is human-caused, CO2-driven Climate Change), along with incidents of the parallel World Energy Crisis.

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide is a gaseous insulator and high capacity heat-storage medium. It can retain much more heat energy per unit mass than the two dominate atmospheric gases making up 99.03% of the atmosphere: diatomic nitrogen (N2, 78.08% of the air), and diatomic oxygen (O2, 20.95% of the air). The remaining 0.97% of the dry atmosphere is a mixture of rare gases (with low heat capacity) and organic vapors (with high heat capacity), which include the high heat capacity species: methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The water vapor (H2O) carried along by the otherwise dry air is also a high heat capacity medium.

Quotes below are noted as from one of:
(HCCS): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_climate_change_science
(HS): http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/156308/

(JEA): John E. Allen, Aerodynamics, Hutchinson & Co. LTD, London, 1963.

In 1896 Svante Arrhenius calculated the effect of doubling atmospheric carbon dioxide to be an increase in surface temperatures of 5-6 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, another Swedish scientist, Arvid Högbom, had been attempting to quantify natural sources of emissions of CO2 for purposes of understanding the global carbon cycle. Högbom found that estimated carbon production from industrial sources in the 1890s (mainly coal burning) was comparable with the natural sources. (HCCS)

In 1938 a British engineer, Guy Stewart Callendar, attempted to revive Arrhenius’s greenhouse-effect theory. Callendar presented evidence that both temperature and the CO2 level in the atmosphere had been rising over the past half-century, and he argued that newer spectroscopic measurements showed that the gas was effective in absorbing infrared [heat radiation] in the atmosphere. Nevertheless, most scientific opinion continued to dispute or ignore the theory. (HCCS)

In 1955 Hans Suess’s carbon-14 isotope analysis showed that CO2 released from fossil fuels was not immediately absorbed by the ocean. (HCCS)

In 1957, better understanding of ocean chemistry led Roger Revelle to a realization that the ocean surface layer had limited ability to absorb carbon dioxide. (HCCS)

In a seminal paper published in 1957 [Roger Revelle and Hans Suess, “Carbon dioxide exchange between atmosphere and ocean and the question of an increase of atmospheric CO2 during the past decades.” Tellus 9, 18-27 (1957)], Roger Revelle and Hans Suess argued that humankind was performing “a great geophysical experiment,” [and called] on the scientific community to monitor changes in the carbon dioxide content of waters and the atmosphere, as well as production rates of plants and animals. (HS)

AGW became common knowledge among aerodynamicists and atmospheric scientists by the 1960s, as witnessed by the following passage from John E. Allen’s 1963 book surveying the field of aerodynamics “for the non-specialist, the young student, the scholar leaving school and seeking an interest for his life’s work, and for the intelligent member of the public.”

Scientists are interested in the long-term effects on our atmosphere from the combustion of coal, oil and petrol and the generation of carbon dioxide. It has been estimated that 360,000 million tons of CO2 have been added to the atmosphere by man’s burning of fossil fuels, increasing the concentration by 13%. This progressive rise in the CO2 content of the air has influenced the heat balance between the sun, air and oceans, thus leading to small but definite changes in surface temperature. At Uppsala in Sweden, for example, the mean temperature has risen 2° in 60 years. (JEA)

22 April 1970: On this first Earth Day, MG,Jr decides to aim for a career in energy research, for a brave new future.

October 1973 – March 1974: The first Arab Oil Embargo (formally known as the 1973 Oil Crisis) erupts in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War (1973 Arab-Israeli War, October 6–25, 1973).

Evidence for warming accumulated. By 1975, Manabe and Wetherald had developed a three-dimensional Global Climate Model that gave a roughly accurate representation of the current climate. Doubling CO2 in the model’s atmosphere gave a roughly 2°C rise in global temperature. Several other kinds of computer models gave similar results: it was impossible to make a model that gave something resembling the actual climate and not have the temperature rise when the CO2 concentration was increased. (HCCS)

18 April 1977: President Jimmy Carter’s Address to the Nation on Energy.

The 1979 World Climate Conference of the World Meteorological Organization concluded “it appears plausible that an increased amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can contribute to a gradual warming of the lower atmosphere, especially at higher latitudes….It is possible that some effects on a regional and global scale may be detectable before the end of this century and become significant before the middle of the next century.” (HCCS)

1979-1980: The 1979 (or Second) Oil Crisis erupts from the turmoil of the Iranian Revolution, and the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War in 1980.

March 28, 1979: A nuclear reactor meltdown occurs at the Three Mile Island power station in Pennsylvania.

July 15, 1979: President Jimmy Carter addresses the nation on its “crisis of confidence” during its 1979 energy crisis (oil and gasoline shortages and high prices). This address would become known as the “malaise speech,” though Carter never mentioned “malaise.” See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kakFDUeoJKM. Have you seen as honest an American presidential speech since? “Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this nation.”

November 4, 1980: Ronald Reagan is elected president and the “big plunge” (the neoliberal shredding of the 1945 postwar social contract) begins. Poof went all my illusions about an American energy revolution.

April 26, 1986: A nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power station in the Ukraine explodes, spewing radioactivity far and wide, and the fuel core melts down. The Chernobyl disaster was the worst nuclear power plant accident until the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of March 11, 2011.

1986: Ronald Reagan has the solar hot water system removed, which had been installed on the roof of the White House during the Carter Administration. The official US energy policy was obvious to me: solar energy and conservation were dead.

In June 1988, James E. Hansen [in Congressional testimony] made one of the first assessments that human-caused warming had already measurably affected global climate. Shortly after, a “World Conference on the Changing Atmosphere: Implications for Global Security” gathered hundreds of scientists and others in Toronto. They concluded that the changes in the atmosphere due to human pollution “represent a major threat to international security and are already having harmful consequences over many parts of the globe,” and declared that by 2005 the world should push its emissions some 20% below the 1988 level. (HCCS)

All that AGW scientific research has done since 1988 has been to add more decimal places to the numbers characterizing the physical effects. That was over a quarter century ago. So, I take it as a given that the American and even World consensus [so far] is in favor of probable human extinction sooner (by waste heat triggered climate change) rather than later (by expansion of the Sun into a Red Giant star). And, yes, the course of the extinction will proceed inequitably. Not what I want, but what I see as the logical consequences of what is. (End of the outline.)

Global warming is Earth’s fever from its infection with capitalism.

So, whenever some government, corporate or media potentate discharges another toxic cloud of climate change denialism, realize that what they are actually and dishonestly telling you is: “I am going to keep making my financial killing regardless, and I don’t care who has to die for it.”

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Also appearing at:

Climate Change Denial Is Murder
8 September 2017
https://dissidentvoice.org/2017/09/climate-change-denial-is-murder/

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Added on 11 September 2017:

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Why Does War Exist?

Preface

1 September 2017 was the 78th anniversary of the beginning of World War II; I went to the movies to see Dunkirk. I have thought, read and written about war for many years, particularly nuclear war (I am against war). Also, I have thought about the existential problem faced by Palestine, and other oppressed societies disadvantaged by an imbalance of power. And, finally, I have also been thinking about the many recent internet postings about the Antifa (antifascist) confrontational protest groups and some of their forceful tactics. All this led me to a summary of general principles about war, which follows.

Why Does War Exist?

War exists because aggressors, exploiters and oppressors, who have the advantage given an imbalance of power, will see no restraint to acting as they please; and their disadvantaged victims will find force to be their most effective defense.

Aggressive war exists because aggressors and oppressors, who rely on the imbalance of power to achieve their aims, find force to be the most expedient tactic against the weak.

The purpose of aggressive war is to forcefully take property, treasure, natural resources, sex and slaves from societies that are relatively weak, as well as gaining domination over them.

Defensive war exists because force is the only effective counter against aggressors and oppressors, who rely on the imbalance of power to forcefully pursue their aims.

The purpose of defensive war is to resist aggression and oppression, and to preserve or gain independence, freedom, social cohesion and territorial integrity that are under assault.

The necessary conditions for the elimination of war are:
(1) a balance of power; and,
(2) the absence of oppression.

Number 1 removes the incentive for aggressive war, and Number 2 removes the necessity of defensive war.

Given conditions 1 and 2, disputes between societies and nation-states would be resolved by negotiations, a process that eliminates all the waste, pain and destruction intrinsic to wars. Also, negotiated settlements under these conditions would be equitable.

Establishing conditions 1 and 2 as permanent and universal conditions of human society is an immeasurably difficult problem, and perhaps an impossibility.

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Louis-Joseph de Montcalm-Gozon, Marquis de Saint-Veran (28 February 1712 – 14 September 1759) was a French soldier best known as the commander of the forces in North America during the Seven Years’ War (whose North American theatre is called the French and Indian War in the United States). Montcalm died on 14 September 1759 from a British musket shot to his back below his ribs, received the day before at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, which is also known as the Battle of Quebec. My photo of Montcalm’s skull (on display at a museum) was taken in the city of Quebec on 2 September 1976.

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This article now also appears (without the photograph) at:

Why Does War Exist?
4 September 2017
https://dissidentvoice.org/2017/09/why-does-war-exist/

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Post-Democracy America

George Washington at Boston Commons

Phyllis Wheatley

William Lloyd Garrison

Sacco and Vanzetti

Sunset, 50 miles east of San Francisco, CA

The reason our American Corporate Masters gave us a choice between corruption (Hillary Clinton) and bigotry (Donald Trump) in the 2016 national election is that either was acceptable to them, since both are intrinsic aspects of how business is being conducted.

In 2016, the Democratic (Party) National Committee saved corporate privilege from the threat of democratic accountability. American democracy did not die because of voter apathy, it was assassinated by the DNC in a conspiracy of pure betrayal of both the American people and democratic principles, with the coup de grâce being delivered on 26 July 2016. So, instead of America today being the mythical democratic republic portrayed in school textbooks, it is actually a corporatized oligarchy – or a fascist state, take your pick – with a modest social democratic insurgency carried on mainly by idealistic younger people.

That so many Americans cannot yet acknowledge these facts is a sad reflection on the extent of ignorance, bigotry, greed, insularity and self-absorption throughout the population. It is difficult to feel sympathy for the plebeian and bourgeois slaves who resist rebelling against their own exploitation, by slavishly attaching themselves to either the Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton (and Barack Obama) pacifying personality projections of the corporatized oligarchy.

Until a widespread and very profound personal and socialist awakening occurs to the American people:

– America will be a racist nation because so many of its people find solace in being self-righteous victims.

– America will be a classist nation because so many of its people find comfort in greed and possessiveness.

– America will be an ageist nation because so many of its people find freedom in: relief from memory, adulation of inexperience, impatience with thinking, and lust for youth.

The threats to American security and physical integrity by external enemies are minor, and are reactions caused by the American oligarchy’s imperialism. The threats to American security and physical integrity by Nature are increasingly self-induced by obtuse denial in the service of laziness and selfishness. The threats to American popular freedom, prosperity, sanity and social cohesion are purely internal and frighteningly contagious, being the corrosive disintegration of individual and collective moral character, which are unfortunately encouraged by the examples of these same failings set by so many of the careerists at the pinnacle of America’s pyramid of power and wealth.

An alert mind seeking to preserve some degree of personal fulfillment in such a society could reason:

– as a weary and isolated cynic: “don’t worry, it’s hopeless, so do what it is in me to do, regardless,” or

– as an idealistic social activist: “this is the nature of war, by protecting others you save yourself.”

Our best hope for a just and peaceful society may lie in the fact that the future unfolds as a chaotic and largely unpredictable process, not as an entirely pre-determined program. Out of the mixed jumble of unexpected great disasters and serendipitous great opportunities that will cascade upon us, we may find the right circumstances to rescue and elevate ourselves as individuals, and unify ourselves as a more worthy society.

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Now also appearing at Dissident Voice:

Post-Democracy America
2 September 2017
https://dissidentvoice.org/2017/09/post-democracy-america/

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The Touch Of The Open

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The Touch Of The Open
(Between An Open Love and A Greedy Heart)

A butterfly surprising me
landed on my palm and made me see
the radiance of life’s floating smile
burning through the haze of my blue ennui
to melt my heart so gratefully
into your redeeming love for me.

But I know you’re that kind of grace
that must weave through life at your own pace,
and so I walk on fear’s knife-edge
dreading unknowns that might come to be,
standing in your glow between
an open love and my heart greedy.

If I close you in, I will crush your dreams,
If my love is open, you will float away.
If I keep you here, I will kill beauty,
If I love your freedom, my heart will break
when you leave
as you must
to be the wonder in this world that you are,
a butterfly
floating free
through the sunbeams of old age memories.

A butterfly surprising me
landed on my palm and made me see
the radiance of life’s floating smile
burning through the haze of my blue ennui
to warm my heart into love for you
and feeling that incredible high to be
the world’s heart now beating as me,
the fullness of all this joy so free,
as big as the sun to life can be.

I’ll think of you in future times,
smiling, knowing I could love so much,
grateful to remember how
you made me flower into springtime love,
a timeless grace flitting heart to heart
linking minds forever in your sea of love,
immersing those soon left behind
into the touch of the open,
the touch of the open,
the touch of the open…

23 August 2017

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Thoughts After Charlottesville 2017

Trump is the best wake-up call Americans have had in decades. America has always been this way, but American politicians and capitalists have tried to mask it to keep the wheels of profitability: business, pork barrel and graft, turning smoothly. “Political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness” for that overarching purpose (Orwell quote). But Trump has dispensed with that, which is why the professional Republicans and Democrats hate him (for pantsing the long-standing corporate-run bipartisan con-job on the public) and most of the public hates him (for stating the crude heartless reality crudely; embarrassing, frightening and insulting them, a tough blow after eight years of Obama’s soothingly elegant and inspirational lying). Trump has the fool’s witless honesty of parading the leprous body of white-supremacy-capitalist-controlled government naked in public for all to see (because he’s a narcissistic true-believer in his religion: Mammonism). People who say “America has changed” or “America has degenerated” are actually reacting to the fact that the core reality of American government and capitalism (particularly since Ronald Reagan, 1980, but generally since far back) has finally broken through their benign wishful fantasies about American society. Trump’s overt and inadvertent ripping back of the curtain hiding the rotten truth has dispelled those innocent illusions, and that in turn has excited his religion’s worse elements to act out.

In Charlottesville, Virginia, resentful White knuckleheads torch-marched protesting against the demographic dilution of White Supremacy in America, shouting: “We will not be replaced!” Yvette Carnell (a Black woman political commentator) continues voicing the protests of resentful only-African-American-descendants-of-slaves against African and Afro-Caribbean Blacks and Hispanics prospering in America: “We should not be displaced!” These are two sides of that most popular American thousand-sided counterfeit coin: “My race uber alles!” Race-love and race-hate are both the opium of the discards from American capitalism.

Black men are 6% of the US population, and that group “contributes” 40% of the killed-by-police dead. Not all of those dead were armed and/or significant threats to society. Police in America have a very difficult job to do (because Americans are so efft-up, and on opoids and all kinds of other street shit, as well as alcohol, and are TV-addled dopes, sports fans, and even domestic abusers; besides so many just normal drama-queens wanting attention). And, by and large, our police are doing a meh job. Most cops are so-so, but too many are total shit. It would be good for Americans if their cops were unarmed (no guns). Those cops who didn’t like that would quit (good) and those who accepted that challenge would probably do okay. Knuckleheads seeking power-by-association do not make the best cops. Bigotry exists in America because most Americans find it comforting (they feel scared and inadequate), “business” finds it more profitable to tolerate than reject (don’t contradict the richer customers, and take advantage of the hungry workers), and most people are too chicken to go beyond their ethnic-racial-‘cultural’ clannishness, especially if it impedes attending to their greed/self-interest. America hasn’t changed, it’s just that in the Trump “era” no effort is being made to mask the reality: it’s all about the money. If you REALLY wanted to see racism disappear (at least in actions) in the USA, we would have to do what the Cuban Revolution did: full socialism (all in for the benefits and opportunities), and inflexible laws for inclusion and anti-discrimination (regardless of the “cost” to “business”). Americans aren’t there yet, they’re too wrapped up in their stupid, selfish fantasies.

It got so bad in Charlottesville, VA (where the whiney white supremacists were yowling about not being uber-special anymore, roughing people up, and in one case committing automobile homicide of a counter-protester), that President Trump had to give an almost Bernie-like speech, that “regardless of your race, color or creed, we are all Americans.” Wow, he had to push back on his base for his own political survival. What the proportions of hypocrisy and sincerity were in Trump’s speech, I’ll let you judge (and I believe there is some degree of sincerity in it) [15 August 2017, I now believe there was zero sincerity], because ALL Americans are race-conscious (that is to say, racist!!). Bigotry in our country will not die in our lifetimes, because it is so comforting. Bigotry will live in America as long as it is good for business (money beats morals every time). The popular attitude is: “I’m perfect, all my problems are caused by other people.” My vision of America is unachievable: fairness, support and equal opportunity for all, regardless: “to each according to his and her needs, from each according to his and her abilities.”