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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A SOUND OF THUNDER

I must have stepped on a butterfly in one of my futuristic dreams last night, for when I awoke and turned on CNN, I learned, officially, that Donald Trump will be PUS (President of the United States) #45.  Of course, Ray Bradbury's A Sound of Thunder immediately came to mind.  You can't buy the book as such because it is one of 32 (original only had 22) short stories from The Golden Apples of the Sun.  However, the movie, A Sound of Thunder, was released in 2005 starring Ben Kingsley, so the equivalent on the right was released.  You don't really want to watch the film because Rotten Tomatoes reviewers gave it a 6% rating.  You rarely see anything that low.  And, by the way, on Friday arrives Arrival, which Rotten Tomatoes bestowed a 99 score, and a "want to see" percentage of 99.


I'm just trying to escape by changing the subject.  But back to the short story, a T-Rex hunting expedition leaves the year 2055 assured that their presidential election had placed into office a male Hillary Clinton, goes back in a time machine 60.25 million years, where a butterfly is stepped on by mistake, and when the group returns, they learn their new president is a Hitler-type character.  As this story was written in 1953, with chaos theory in 1961 mentioning the flap of a seagull's wings, followed in 1972 by the butterfly effect, this concept was then invented by Ray Bradbury.  

The whole point to this sound of thunder is that you can make a real difference for the future with what you do.  The daunting challenge of your life, of course, is that if stepping on a butterfly 60 million years ago can cause the election of Donald Trump as PUS #45, what exactly should you do today?  My advice is to do what's right to improve the odds for a progressive future.

Mind you, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, by, at this moment, 136,587 votes.  Remember Al Gore?  He also beat George Bush in 2000.  No matter.  By the way, the loser in 2012 Mitt Romney got more votes than either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.  So much for all those new voters.  In any case, Trump this year earned more than  270 electoral votes, and those are the ones that count.

I lived through this kind of trauma once.  It was 1982, I had been in the U.S. Senate for two years working for Democrat Spark Matsunaga.  We had been in charge of the Senate.  Then came Ronald Reagan and the Republican takeover.  My job became easier because no planning was necessary, you mostly react to what the opposition does.  Over the next few years the White House and Congress decimated the national solar program, my area of expertise.  There was worse, but I can only imagine what will now happen with Donald Trump, for Ronald Reagan was a good guy.  We worked closely with him to create something like the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research.  I don't see this kind of partnership happening over the next four years.

As tenuous as is this reality, let me nevertheless fantasize about what we can now expect for our country, Planet Earth and rest of Humanity:
  • As both houses of Congress and the White House will be Republican, if that party can work together to pass common legislation, you can only fear the future.
  • Obamacare will be ditched, and the result will be that the poorer fraction of citizens will go without any healthcare plan, again.
  • Social programs?  Forget new ones.  Worry about what you now have.
  • Minorities of every shape and form will retrogress by policy.
  • Will Newt Gingrich become Secretary of State?  Rudy Giuliani Attorney General?  Rein Priebus Chief of Staff?  Chris Christy is in charge of the transition, but what else?  
  • Will nepotism run rampant?
  • The Environmental Protection Agency will dispose of the Clean Power Plan, and coal emitting power plants will enjoy a reprieve.
  • The Department of Energy will severely reduce its solar efforts, while fossil fuel and nuclear options will gain an upper hand.
  • The Department of Education will be revolutionized in ways that will make you shudder.
  • There is a possibility that all three governmental units mentioned above will be eliminated, anyway.
  • The next Supreme Court judges will be ultra conservative, meaning the fate of the nation will be sealed in this extreme mode for the next decade and more.
  • Wall Street reforms will get swept under the rug.
  • Relationship with Mexico will worsen, but no major wall will be built.
  • Rich taxpayers will gain a break and corporations will freely reign.
  • The Nation will reel from the next four years of truly conservative government as we've never before seen.
  • However, I suspect at some point, the Republican Party will tear themselves to shreds and appear in at least three competing forms.
  • The Trump regime will engage in a series of trade wars.
  • NATO will not be the same again.
  • Our relationship with China will sour, but Russian exchanges will improve.  As a concession from Putin, the Syrian war might actually reach a resolution.
  • But potential war with Iran will further inflame the Middle East.
  • James Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, shares similar views with President Trump that global climate change is a hoax.  
    • Of course the Paris Agreement will be rejected and every attempt will be made to scuttle the very existence of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
    • Planet Earth will suffer, and you can only tremble at our atmosphere passing through the tipping point towards sure cataclysm.
  • All these convulsions will in a year or two lead into another severe world recession, if not worse.
Frankly, I thought America was already great, so, against all odds, if PUS #45 Donald Trump actually makes our country greater, I will certainly clap in awe.   In any event, the next few years will be entertaining.  I just hope I am again wrong on all the above bullets.

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