As the Presidential debates unfold, it’s worth noting that his supporters will think Trump won regardless of reality

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The image leading this piece is the Clearwater, Florida home of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard’s intentionally created religion and cult. I stood across the road from it a few years ago when working with a Tampa-area client on a corporate transformation they were undergoing. I rode the motorcycle I’d shipped to Florida for the duration up to Clearwater to look at Clearwater and the edifice, specifically because of its connection to that particular cult.

Trump’s fan base are excessively devoted to a leader who unethically manipulates them for his personal gain at great harm to themselves.

I’ve long been interested in cults, comparative religions, dogmatic secular ideologies such as Libertarianism and its even less rational partner Objectivism, and where the line is drawn between them. As such, I’d read books on Hubbard and Scientology. I’d found and read court documents on the cult where they were forced to expose their mysteries. I’d drawn comparisons to the mystery religions of ancient Greece, where initiates were exposed to more and more exclusive secrets and rites. In the case of Scientology, of course, the big reveal was that an ancient pan-Galactic dictator had put his enemies in volcanoes on Earth and nuked them, and the nasty spirits of those ancient space aliens liked to stick to humans and had to be cleaned off with a cheap galvanometer. …


COVID, wildfires, hurricanes, social and economic crises, and political division are calls to action for many

A copy of a 15th century German manuscript depicting the plague of insects.
A copy of a 15th century German manuscript depicting the plague of insects.
A copy of a 15th century German manuscript depicting the plague of insects. Historica Graphica Collection/Heritage Images — Getty Images

Lo, we have come to a year of deep affliction in the United States. Almost 10% of the population has marched in Black Lives Matter protests across the country. COVID-19 is on track to kill 400,000 Americans, the same number as died in World War II. The west coast is burning. The southern coasts are flooded. The country is a state divided, with increasingly bitter discussions at dinner tables and in the learned discussions on Youtube and Facebook. Pestilence, uprisings, floods, fire and division. Truly an annus horribilis.

But there are lessons to be learned from these calamities. They are calls to action for many marginalized groups, calls to change their lives in radical and positive ways, calls to help America in these oh so difficult times, and in the future as well. And so, I’ve prepared a guide for many of these challenged groups to help them understand their place on the canvases in this set of prints by Gustav Dore. …


Biden has raced ahead for many reasons, some surprising

Grand Canyon, Arizona
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Grand Canyon in Arizona at dawn

Arizona used to be a Red state, a Grand Canyon yawning between the citizens and the Democratic Party’s electoral hopes. It’s the Copper State, not the Quartz State. But in late 2020, it’s firmly leaning into Biden’s camp. What’s up with that?

First off, what does the polling tell us about what’s been happening in voter sentiment in the state? It’s by far the biggest swing in the race this year.

Arizona Trump vs Biden polling since February
Arizona Trump vs Biden polling since February
Image courtesy 538

Polling in February had Trump up by 3.9 points. Now Biden is up by 5. That’s a 9 point swing.

Most of the swing occurred in March, 6 points of it. From then until August, it was fairly stable. Then in late August there was something else going on. So there are two points of inflection to assess, March and August. …


Red states are now swing states and swing states are Blue states

National state by state likelihood of Trump vs Biden winning Electoral College votes
National state by state likelihood of Trump vs Biden winning Electoral College votes
Image courtesy 270towin.com

In 50 days the US 2020 election will be held, an important election globally. On the one hand, we have a continued descent of the USA into poor governance, bad fiscal policy, climate inaction, pandemic ignorance and authoritarianism. On the other, a steady and experienced hand in the Oval Office, a return to evidence-based policies, intelligent guidance out of the COVID-19 pandemic and related fiscal depression and the USA returning as a global leader on key issues such as the climate.

It’s not particularly hyperbolic to cast this election as one of the most important of the past 100 years. Writing from near the border in Canada, I know that we are looking south with “horror and consternation”, as our Prime Minister put it. Another four years of chaos and intentional gutting of checks and balances is deeply troubling, when we are the mouse in bed with the elephant. …


Trump supporters create chaos with a jingoistic display

Small boat festooned with Trump flags wallowing in heavy waves
Small boat festooned with Trump flags wallowing in heavy waves
Lake Travis Trump supporters in trouble

A calm lake. A beautiful day on the Labor Day weekend. And yet multiple boats sank as Trump supporters showed up for a mass boating event. It’s an almost perfect metaphor for Trump’s American in 2020.

Quick note: thankfully no one appears to be hurt and the damage was limited to property and egos. Some of those egos were undoubtedly substantial, but better a bruised ego than lungs full of water and more mourning.

The picture leading this piece is the iconic image from the event, just as the lone man sitting in a sea of blue seats was the iconic image from Trump’s failed Tulsa rally. The ‘organizers’ promoting the event on Facebook asked people to deck their boats out with as many pro-Trump flags as possible to send a strong message. These people, boat barely visible, expressions of terror on their faces, decked out their foundering boat with flags that included the phrases Make Liberals Sorry Again and Keep America Great. …


Short-term calculus reversing long-held virtues every decade led to the imploding party we see today

Fracture Republican Elephant Logo
Fracture Republican Elephant Logo

Republicans are divided entering the Republican National Convention. Past Republican Presidents, nominees and primary candidates aren’t giving speeches. Past Republican Presidents, nominees and primary candidates have withheld their support for a second Trump term, are often explicitly supporting Joe Biden, and in one case spoke at the Democratic National Convention.

Lifelong Republicans are running anti-Trump campaigns through the Lincoln Project, Republican Voters Against Trump and 43 Alumni for Joe Biden, among others. But they are pining for a Party which no longer exists. …


Don’t be fooled, it’s the same people with the same agenda

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Climate change denialists are under 10% of the population of the even the United States. About 69% of Americans want the government to take action on the human causes of climate change. Yet we continue to not take action.

Part of the reason is that the industries that care about perpetuating fossil fuel use and its resultant global warming and pollution negative externalities have shifted PR gears. Now they are churning out and amplifying messages that make the problem seem too hard to solve, or the solutions inadequate. Neither is true, but sapping will to accelerate into the future is the intent, and it works far too often. …


Four overlapping systemic drivers have turned police forces into armed escalators of violence, disproportionately against people of color

Fixing policing in the USA is a wicked problem, because multiple well-intentioned and ill-intentioned actors have created a monster. It’s not just a few bad apples. It’s not just the thin blue line. It’s systemic. I see four major overlapping factors which make police forces part of the problem far too often, and disproportionately at the expense of the lives of people of color.

I’ll start by saying I have a lot of respect for the vast majority of police officers. They are trying to do a difficult and necessary job. I don’t think that the majority are evil or have ill intent. But I do think that, especially in the USA, they are embedded in a system that makes it very hard for them to do the right thing enough of the time, and very easy for them to end up doing the wrong thing. …


Too bad we don’t have conservative parties in Canada or the USA anymore

Logos of major US and Canadian political parties
Logos of major US and Canadian political parties

As a voter, I’m like most people and have different things that matter more and less to me. Climate change is high on my list, as is social justice and transforming our industry to growth, low-carbon models instead of sticking with legacy, fossil-fuel oriented models with limited lifespans.

But I’m also a governance wonk and I know that I’m one voice and one perspective, no matter how well-informed and wise I think I am. I know I’ve been wrong and misinformed in the past, and things I think are correct right now I’ll find are wrong in the future. I know that there are many policy levers to pull to achieve a particular outcome, and that I can’t see the implications of all of them. …


Pandemics and disasters fueled by climate change intersect in urban areas

Flood rescue after 2019 typhoon in Japan
Flood rescue after 2019 typhoon in Japan
Flood rescue after 2019 typhoon in Japan

A team I’m on is developing Canadian guidance for communities and leaders on good practices on planned retreat in the face of climate risks. Patrick Saunders-Hastings of Gevity, Brent Doberstein of UWaterloo and I are looking at international and Canadian literature and case studies on retreat of communities and infrastructure to help communities and regions deal with the increasing rate of change. This is under contract to Natural Resources Canada, which is one of the leading federal departments addressing climate change and adaptation.

One of the expert informants we spoke to is A.R. Siders, JD, PhD, currently with the University of Delaware Disaster Research Center. She’s a leading scholar of planned retreat in the USA, having engaged in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. I had the opportunity to spend more time with Siders subsequently, as we both have an interest in cognitive science and communication around climate change. To that end, I introduced her to John Cook, PhD of cognitive science at the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University. John is most renowned for founding Skeptical Science, the leading source of debunking of climate disinformation globally. I spent time this year with John on a two-part podcast talking about disinformation, conspiracy ideation, cognitive science and his new book Cranky Uncle vs Climate Change. …

About

Michael Barnard

Chief Strategist, TFIE Strategy Inc. Business and technical future-proofing. Top Writer Quora since 2013. CleanTechnica, Forbes, Quartz+ more. In 4 books.

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