The Trials of Joe Biden

There'll be no honeymoon when Joe Biden is inaugurated the 46th president of the United States.

The Covid pandemic seems to be taking a nasty turn due to a new variant that is spreading throughout the UK and has already been found in Europe. It's not a more lethal strain. It's simply a lot more infectious, faster spreading. That's not a good thing for any country where a sizeable segment of the population refuses to abide by public health precautions, seeing them as an affront to their rights and freedoms.

Two weeks ago Boris Johnson was ridiculing the opposition, accusing them of wanting to "cancel Christmas." There'd be none of that weak-kneed nonsense for Johnson, not while the Tories held power. Isolated lockdowns here and there, perhaps, but only if essential and the idea of a nation-wide lockdown was out of the question. 

What a difference a week or two can make. Now Johnson is imposing the sort of lockdown he derided so recently. Of course, he now says, he's only following the science.

Could this cross the Atlantic? Sure. Are we ready for another body blow? That's unclear. What we do know is that Team Trump has been pretty miserly when it comes to assisting the Biden transition.


Then there's the looming migration out of Central America. The area, already reeling from climate change and the Covid pandemic, was hammered by two major hurricanes in November.  Houses were destroyed, villages wrecked, people were buried in mudslides, especially in Honduras.

The hurricanes seem to have been the last straw for many Hondurans who are leaving their no longer viable villages to seek safety in the only direction available - north.  

Honduran authorities are trying to block the migration before the refugees can enter Guatemala, demanding to see travel documents and proof of Covid testing. 

A major confrontation at America's southern border has been foreseen for years. Gwynne Dyer wrote of it in his 2008 book, "Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats." The 2020s are predicted to see the onset of a new phenomenon called "climate departure." This foretells a major shift to much higher than once normal average temperatures that will first ravage tropical regions such as the Caribbean and Central America.  For countries where many people eke out a living through subsistence agriculture, the onset of potentially lethal heatwaves could render some areas uninhabitable.

This poses an enormous challenge to a freshly-minted president Biden. He's inheriting a deeply and quite deliberately divided populace, one side like trained pitbulls, snarl and bristle at the mere mention of migrants.  The Republicans will exploit this for all it's worth using compassion and decency as an anvil on which to break the Democrat upstart. We think we've seen the Ugly American. I think there's more to come.

Of course ten or twenty years ago those who foresaw climate departure didn't reckon on viral contagions and devastating hurricanes. What they did try to warn of was the possibility of a "cascade" of disruptive events, each compounding the others, which seems to be unfolding at the moment in Central America.

From 20 years of following climate science all I really know is that we have no idea what's coming next but I think by the time the 2020s have passed, today will be a fond memory.

Comments

  1. I heard that about 70% of Republican voters see Biden's as an illegitimate presidency. Combined with the Democrats' propensity for eating their own, Biden certainly has his work cut out for him, Mound.

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    1. He will be tested, Lorne. Biden and his team will have to hit the ground running, something that's going to be made much more difficult by Trump's refusal to cooperate on the transition.

      I was speaking with an acquaintance in the States today. She's delighted that Trump will soon be out but deeply saddened by what Trump has revealed in so many of her fellow Americans. There is a residual ugliness that she thinks will defy best efforts to defuse it. I think she's right. America may indeed now be too broken to patch up.

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    2. Edward Keenan has some thoughts on Trump's effects on people's faith in the system that you might want to check out, Mound: https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2020/12/19/donald-trumps-legacy-he-shook-americans-faith-in-their-country-to-its-very-foundation.html

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    3. Thanks for the link, Lorne. Cui bono? Who benefits from driving such deep wedges between a populace and their government? Who benefits from dividing a people against each other? Presumably that would be that nation's adversaries. Allies dread that. It undermines them also. Those who still have faith in their government don't want that.

      By elimination the party that benefits is an adversary out to subvert its target and to weaken that state and its alliances. One name comes to mind and that's Putin.

      We've had four years of watching Trump act in ways that directly or indirectly suit the Kremlin. He's still doing it over these cyber-security attacks on America's sensitive institutions. Trump, as ever citing no credible evidence, seeks to divert blame to China.

      Trump has worked very hard to sow dissension among the American people and to turn his Gullibillies against their government and the Democrats. He leaves government having inflicted real damage on the United States.

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  2. https://www.pewresearch.org/science/2020/12/03/intent-to-get-a-covid-19-vaccine-rises-to-60-as-confidence-in-research-and-development-process-increases/

    With vaccination figures like this the US is in for a terrible time for the foreseeable future.
    Add to these figures the millions of undocumented immigrants who will not wish to be added to any data base for fear of expulsion from the US.

    It's difficult maybe unrealistic to see a bright 2021.

    We live in a new reality socially and economic.
    The old 'norms' do not ring true anymore.
    What we have to look forward to is anyone's guess.

    TB




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    1. We are adrift on a sea of uncertainty, TrailBlazer. The more one learns the stronger that reality comes through. The fate of Hondurans and, to a lesser extent, Guatemalans illustrates our new reality. Parts of the world are already at risk of regular food insecurity. Some countries in the tropical/equatorial zone, including nearby Central America, are expected to receive the early onset impacts of 'climate departure' by mid-decade. We're told to expect what the UN calls 'resource wars' or wars of survival, mainly over competing access to fresh water resources. Hell, even Georgia, Florida and Alabama are constantly at each others' throats over which gets how much from the Everglades, a resource that is itself salinating. Egypt is squabbling with its upstream neighbours over access to the Nile flows. The American media have come alive to the simmering tensions among Pakistan, India and China over the Himalayan headwaters. Then there's the prospect of Covid becoming the gift that just keeps on giving. We know these new vaccines are pretty effective but even manufacturer, Moderna, cautions that it remains uncertain how long their protection lasts. There was a British-born, Alberta virologist, Michael Haughton, who shared this year's Nobel for medicine. He suggested we might need several rounds of vaccination before we develop lasting immunity. How are we going to deliver that protection world wide?

      I could go on but it's best to limit this discussion to threats that are tangible. Once you wander into speculation, well...

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  3. "Democrats' propensity for eating their own"

    you mean like this?
    "The announcement comes as a loss for Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Her meteoric rise and devoted base made it seem as if she were poised to win the burgeoning cadre of leftist Democrats a beachhead in a select committee that, even with limited capacity, would have demonstrated tangible power in Washington. "

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    1. It's America, NPoV. Biden already has enormous challenges starting on Day One. Indulging the Dems' far left out of the gate would probably backfire. Barring revolution, achieving progress is an incremental process. Besides, if Biden can't find some way to restore social cohesion, that country may be in deep trouble. Trump leaves the United States profoundly damaged and weakened. It's as though he's been doing someone else's bidding all along.

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