Apocalypse Refocused

Author: Gary Hart

Many if not most of my generation envisioned apocalypse as nuclear.  That threat is still there.  Now, however, it turns out that nature’s survival is threatened by chemicals and the creators of chemicals, mankind itself

In the interim decade or two, science has required us to concentrate on the warming of the climate and the resulting glacier melting, sea levels rising, coastal inundating, crop destroying, inward mass migrations resulting from rising temperatures.

The recent United Nation’s consolidated report, however, broadens this new apocalypse.  Upwards of one million natural species are threatened not only by warming climate but also by habitat destruction, including massive deforestation, expanding urban populations, extensive transportation systems, and general destruction of biodiversity systems more intricate than we could have previously comprehended.

Why did it take even supposedly sophisticated humans to begin to appreciate how intricately interwoven were biological systems, soil that sustained tiny insects that in turn sustained birds […] Continue Reading…

There is very little chance for a return any time soon to good government in the national interest such as we have experienced during the nation’s best days.  Once again, it must be restated that two events have historically brought Americans together: depressions and world wars.

Right now, Republicans have a strong economic tailwind.  And, thank Providence, no epic war looms on the horizon.  So, there is little incentive for a Party in the White House and the Senate to moderate or seek Democratic cooperation.

In fact, Republicans reward office holders and candidates who promise not to cooperate with Democrats.  Given gross gerrymandering and polarization of the nation into red and blue enclaves, the worst fear of those Republicans with even a thought of moderation and bipartisan cooperation is a right-wing challenge within their own State or district.  Witness the march out the door of the handful of Republicans with this […] Continue Reading…

Rethinking American Democracy

Author: Gary Hart

Whatever else happens, and “else” in this case is meant to include a second Trump term, American politics has been altered.  How much and for how long remain to be seen.

Counting the ways confounds comprehension and expands almost daily.  The most obvious, if not also the most profound, is the gap that is becoming a chasm between the Democrats and the Republicans.  There are rare bipartisan legislative efforts, but their rarity illustrates the point.  There have been partisan confrontations in our history, most notably leading to the Civil War.  But ending slavery was epic.  Now there is a partisan divide over virtually everything from judicial and executive appointments, to foreign policy, to trade, to resources, energy, and the environment.

Now the president has declared war on the legislative branch, most notably the House of Representatives.  Principally this involves total resistance to Congressional subpoenas necessary to carry out the Constitutional oversight […] Continue Reading…

Turning on a Dime

Author: Gary Hart

How do political institutions change directions?  This question obviously arises regarding the Republic Party since 2016.

Since the end of the Cold War, at least, Republicans believed in several immutable fundamentals: balanced budgets; deep suspicion of Russia (and previously the Soviet Union); the “moral majority”; law and order; respect for the military; expanded international trade, among other solid doctrines.

Today, with the exception of “never Trump” Republicans, the Party has exploded deficits, held secret meetings with Russian authorities during and after the 2016 election, fallen in love with a twice divorced President with highly questionable conduct toward women, defied and demeaned domestic law enforcement agencies including the Department of Justice and the FBI, demonstrated contempt for the intelligence services, upset security and economic alliances, cast established trade agreements aside, and generally run rough-shod over the rule of law.

All this amazing transformation in about 24 months.

Did the traditional Republican Party lose its […] Continue Reading…

Judgment Silenced

Author: Gary Hart

What follows seems to be about religion, and especially about the Christian religion, but it is not.  It is about moral leadership.  So please don’t see “religion” and run away saying “enough already about religion.”

The question is why the so-called “mainstream” Christian churches and their leaders seem so quiet in this Trumpian era while “Christianity” seems to be represented in the public square almost exclusively by evangelicals, one tributary of the Christian river.

This is not one of those “I haven’t heard it, therefore it hasn’t happened” arguments.  For all I know, pastors and theologians of various denominations, including but not limited to, Episcopalians, Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and many others, are speaking and writing daily either praising or judgmentally condemning Trumpian excesses.

After all, the seminaries and divinity schools across the nation virtually all teach the notion that Christians are called upon to render judgments between good and evil and […] Continue Reading…

By assuming that the Democratic Party will undertake massive voter fraud in 2020, Donald Trump has unleashed an effort to de-legitimatize the outcome of that election if he and/or his party loses.

His statement last week to the Republican National Committee Conference that all votes must be counted  and “be more paranoid”  20 months from now begins a drumbeat that will be endlessly repeated on Fox News and countless tweets.

This is the latest in an increasing series of presidential efforts to call into question the rule of law and dependability of political institutions upon which our Republic depends.

He wants the “base” to expect an illegitimate election, to consider the process of a national election fraudulent, to accept that one of our two major Parties is corrupt and sinister, that it will bring hoards of illegal aliens to the polls on its behalf, and that, despite all evidence to the contrary, […] Continue Reading…

Government for the People

Author: Gary Hart

There is nothing wrong with our economy that getting rid of all those bureaucratic regulations won’t cure, seemed to be the mantra of Ronald Reagan and generations of Republicans before and after.  That, together with tax cuts and military spending pretty much summarized his governing philosophy.  Oh, and there was that quaint notion of balancing the budget also, but President Clinton was the last one to do that and deficits have grown under all Republican presidents since Reagan.

What are regulations and why do we have them?  The passengers of the two recent Boeing 737 Max 8 planes probably could not have told you, but they were assuming US Government officials in the FAA had written regulations for their operations and trained pilots on the requirements of those regulations.

Wrong assumption because the FAA, which still does not have a director confirmed by the Senate more than two years into the […] Continue Reading…

Ex parte Trump

Author: Gary Hart

The investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller is over…but it is not finished.  What Mr. Mueller struggled to keep nonpolitical is now ultra-political.  By leaving the many issues related to obstruction of justice as a jump ball, he all but guaranteed a long twilight partisan struggle among the two Parties, the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.  And that does even include the courts where all this will inevitably land.

Do not expect the fallout from this report to be concluded before the 2020 elections.

Mr. Mueller does not seem to be a man who punts.  But that is the result of his amorphous conclusion on obstruction.  The phrase “does not exonerate” will rattle through the halls of politics and law for decades to come.  Donald Trump can claim whatever he likes.  But he was not exonerated.

This loose ball now bounces around the Department of Justice whose Attorney […] Continue Reading…

Accept Your Death…

Author: Gary Hart

At a very low point in my life, I saw an improbable but achievable goal disappear almost literally overnight.  Thereafter, I received upwards of ten thousand letters, overwhelmingly kind, generous, understanding and supportive.  But, of course, this was thirty years ago before the age of trolling, bitterness, and meanness.

Even after this much passage of time, one letter is indelible.  It came from a college friend of even more decades ago.  This is what it said: “On the eve of a great battle, the chief of a large Native American tribe gathered his warrior-braves and said this: ‘Accept your death and become dangerous.’”

Accept your death and become dangerous.

Long reflection has led to this interpretation.  To accept your death does not mean to become reckless or needlessly to throw your life away.  It means to know that life is finite.  At some point it ends for all of us, whether in […] Continue Reading…

Amerexit

Author: Gary Hart

Great Britain was awash in immigrants, many from its former empire and therefore of darker color.  It was enmeshed in complex trade agreements that convinced those whose wages had stagnated that those agreements were profiting trading partners at their expense.  The bankers in the City of London were perceived as the elite whose children went to the best public schools and chartered the largest yachts in the Mediterranean.  The worst of it was the European Union whose bureaucrats were running everything.

Most of all, Britain was no longer great.  So, the British Government provided a referendum on whether to stay in or leave the European Union and in 2016 the Leavers carried the day.  Britain would be great again and possibly recapture its imperial status into the bargain.

It seems odd that few, if any, have seen the remarkable parallel between Great Britain and the United States since 2016.  It is […] Continue Reading…