An Overflow Of Snarky Snippets …

Today is your lucky day!  I have far more to do than I can possibly accomplish, nearly everything in the news sets me off on a grouse or a grumble, and my family has long since tired of listening to me, telling me to “go write a blog post or something”.  And so you are the beneficiaries of today’s snarkiness!  Thrilled, aren’t you?


I have lost count of how many times I have said we need to overturn Citizen’s United, need to remove money from the equation of elections.  The utterly obscene amounts of money that are spent by corporations and lobbyists to promote candidates come with a hefty price tag … one that We The People always pay.

On November 6th, Americans spoke loud and clear when we sent a number of women and minorities to the House of Representatives.  We said, “We are sick and tired of being left behind.  We are sick and tired of our voices not being heard, of only those people who have millions, or billions of dollars being listened to.  We are sick of our government representing only the top 1% and to hell with the rest of us.”  And so, we elected new blood, people who are not yet so jaded that they cannot see the forest for the trees.  And they will do the jobs they have been elected to do, despite pressure from others to ‘conform’ to the old ways.

On Tuesday, the incoming freshman lawmakers attended an orientation event sponsored by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics.  The event was billed as a bipartisan event and on its website the school says the sessions are designed to help incoming House members “forge bipartisan relationships and learn practical skills of lawmaking just one month prior to taking the oath of office.” Uh-huh.

Who were the speakers at this event?  Corporate CEOs and Corporate lobbyist groups.  Guess who else was there?  Donald Trump’s former chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn.  Hold on to your hats … you’re going to love what he told the newbie members-elect …

“You guys are way over your head, you don’t know how the game is played.”

Say WHAT???  This, Mr. Cohn, is not a game … this is people’s f-ing lives!!!

Goldman Sachs, the financial behemoth where Cohn was CEO before joining Trump’s administration were at the event.  The heads of General Motors, Johnson and Johnson and Boeing were there. There was not a single labor leader or community activist, nobody who represented the average citizen.  Only people who represent that all-important upper echelon, the infamous 1%.  And we wonder why we have the most corrupt lawmakers ever in the history of the nation?  Wonder no more.


The FBI has changed its mind and decided that one of the currently most radical white supremacist groups in the nation is not, after all, an extremist group.  What, they’re just a bunch of kindergarten kids going around the country promoting political violence?

According to the Proud Boys website …

Proud boys.jpg

Lovely looking bunch of “proud boys”, don’t you think?

“The basic tenet of the group is that we are “Western chauvinists who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.” Like Archie Bunker, we long for the days when “girls were girls and men were men.” This wasn’t controversial even twenty years ago, but being proud of Western culture today is like being a crippled, black, lesbian communist in 1953. Our group is and will always be MEN ONLY(born with a penis if that wasn’t clear enough for you leftists)!”

The group claims not to be white supremacist, however according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) …

“Their disavowals of bigotry are belied by their actions: rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists. They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric. Proud Boys have appeared alongside other hate groups at extremist gatherings like the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. Indeed, former Proud Boys member Jason Kessler helped to organize the event, which brought together Klansmen, antisemites, Southern racists, and militias.”

In November, the FBI categorized the group as an “extremist group with ties to white nationalism”.  That was actually fairly mild, if you ask me, for I would categorize them as a bunch of bigoted, chauvanistic, murderous white supremacists.  But yesterday, for reasons unbeknownst to anyone of good sense, the FBI recanted, saying they did not mean to designate the whole group, rather to characterize the potential threat from individuals within that group.  Would somebody please explain to me what the Sam Heck the difference is?  Nobody would join the group for any reason other than to follow their violent, bigoted ways, so … why is it only certain unnamed individuals and not the entire group that pose a threat?  Oh wait … perhaps one of Donnie Trump’s family is a member and that is why the designation had to be changed!  I call B.S.


On November 6th, We The People spoke.  We spoke loud and clear.  We made clear that we are not all a bunch of bigoted louts as some would like us to be, and we made clear that we value substance over form.  We elected to the U.S. House of Representatives two very qualified women who are of the Muslim faith.  Why?  Because they are the best qualified to make laws that are in the best interest of the people of this nation … that is, ALL the people, not just the wealthy few.

Ilhan Omar (left) and Rashida Tlaib

The two, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan are both Democrats and both well-qualified for the jobs to which they were elected.

However, there is one man, Earl Walker Jackson a protestant minister and wanna-be politician, who doesn’t think these two women should be in Congress. Why?  Because he claims …

E.W. Jackson

E.W. Jackson

“Folks, I’m still trying to get over this whole issue of Nancy Pelosi allowing these women — these Muslim women — and apparently other women in Congress are now going to start, if this movement takes root, are going to start wearing the hijab on the floor of Congress. So what are we now gonna do? We’re going to turn Congress into an institution of Sharia law? I mean, folks, this stuff is just crazy … Lord help us. Floor of Congress is now going to look like a, it’s going to look like an Islamic republic.”

Mr. Jackson, by the way, is African-American and a disgrace to his race, for he has often made statements that were derogatory to gays, blacks, and Democrats and other minority groups.  However, he is outdone this time, for representative-elect Omar had the best imaginable response to Jackson’s bigoted statement …

“Well sir, the floor of Congress is going to look like America … and you’re gonna have to just deal.”

clappingYes indeed, folks, we’ve got some new blood coming into Congress!


And now I hope I have gotten enough of the snarky out of my system so that I can proceed with the weekend, for I have much to accomplish this weekend and little enough time and energy with which to do it.  Have a great weekend!

Clueless

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman’s column from yesterday is astute, to-the-point, and well worth the few minutes it takes to read it.  He hits the nail on the head regarding Trump’s trade ‘negotiations’ with China.

paul-krugman-thumbLarge.png


The Art of the Imaginary Deal

On trade, Trump is a rebel without a clue

Are we going to have a full-blown trade war with China, and maybe the rest of the world? Nobody knows — because it all depends on the whims of one man. And Tariff Man is ignorant, volatile and delusional.

Why do I say that it’s all about one man? After all, after the 2016 U.S. election and the Brexit vote in Britain, there was a lot of talk about a broad popular backlash against globalization. Over the past two years, however, it has become clear that this backlash was both smaller and shallower than advertised.

Where, after all, is the major constituency supporting Donald Trump’s tariffs and threats to exit international agreements? Big business hates the prospect of a trade war, and stocks plunge whenever that prospect becomes more likely. Labor hasn’t rallied behind Trumpist protectionism either.

Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans believing that foreign trade is good for the economy is near a record high. Even those who criticize trade seem to be motivated by loyalty to Trump, not by deep policy convictions: During the 2016 campaign self-identified Republicans swung wildly from the view that trade agreements are good to the view that they’re bad, then swung back again once Trump seemed to be negotiating agreements of his own. (We have always been in a trade war with Eastasia.)

But if there’s no strong constituency for protectionism, why are we teetering on the brink of a trade war? Blame U.S. trade law.

Once upon a time, Congress used to write detailed tariff bills that were stuffed full of giveaways to special interests, with destructive effects on both the economy and American diplomacy. So in the 1930s F.D.R. established a new system in which the executive branch negotiates trade deals with other countries, and Congress simply votes these deals up or down. The U.S. system then became the template for global negotiations that culminated in the creation of the World Trade Organization.

The creators of the U.S. trade policy system realized, however, that it couldn’t be too rigid or it would shatter in times of stress; there had to be ways to relieve pressure when necessary. So trade law gives the executive the right to impose tariffs without new legislation under certain circumstances, mainly to protect national security, to retaliate against unfair foreign practices, or to give industries facing sudden surges in foreign competition time to adjust.

In other words, U.S. trade law gives the president a lot of discretionary power over trade, as part of a system that curbs the destructive influence of corrupt, irresponsible members of Congress. And that setup worked very well for more than 80 years.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t intended to handle the problem of a corrupt, irresponsible president. Trump is pretty much all alone in lusting for a trade war, but he has virtually dictatorial authority over trade.

What’s he doing with that power? He’s trying to negotiate deals. Unfortunately, he really, really doesn’t know what he’s doing. On trade, he’s a rebel without a clue.

Even as he declared himself Tariff Man, Trump revealed that he doesn’t understand how tariffs work. No, they aren’t taxes on foreigners, they’re taxes on our own consumers.

When trying to make deals, he seems to care only about whether he can claim a “win,” not about substance. He has been touting the “U.S. Mexico Canada Trade Agreement” as a repudiation of NAFTA, when it’s actually just a fairly minor modification. (Nancy Pelosi calls it “the trade agreement formerly known as Prince.”)

Most important, his inability to do international diplomacy, which we’ve seen on many fronts, carries over to trade talks. Remember, he claimed to have “solved” the North Korean nuclear crisis, but Kim Jong-un is still expanding his ballistic missile capacity. Well, last weekend he claimed to have reached a major trade understanding with China; but as J.P. Morgan soon reported in a note to its clients, his claims “seem if not completely fabricated then grossly exaggerated.”

Markets plunged earlier this week as investors realized that they’d been had. As I said, business really doesn’t want a trade war.

Let’s be clear: China is not a good actor in the world economy. It engages in real misbehavior, especially with regard to intellectual property: The Chinese essentially rip off technology. So there is a case for toughening our stance on trade.

But that toughening should be undertaken in concert with other nations that also suffer from Chinese misbehavior, and it should have clear objectives. The last person you want to play hardball here is someone who doesn’t grasp the basics of trade policy, who directs his aggressiveness at everyone — tariffs on Canadian aluminum to protect our national security? Really? — and who can’t even give an honest account of what went down in a meeting.

Unfortunately, that’s the person who’s now in charge, and it’s hard to see how he can be restrained. So the future of world trade, with all it implies for the world economy, now hinges largely on Donald Trump’s mental processes. That is not a comforting thought.Text dividers

Killing Us For Profit

It’s a familiar scene in households where a toddler or two reside.  Mommy is going through the house picking up the toys, and other detritus left behind by the toddler, and the toddler is going right behind her, tossing all the toys right back into the middle of the floor.  Only in this case, “Mommy” is all the nations on the globe except the U.S., meeting in Poland for the COP24 where they debate the best ways to keep greenhouse gasses out of the atmosphere.  And the “toddler” is Donald Trump, alleging to represent the United States, seeking to put more of those same gasses into the atmosphere.  Only difference is that mommy can pick up the toddler and stick him in a playpen or high chair, distract him momentarily, and finish the clean-up.  Unfortunately, the other nations have no power to curb Donald Trump’s destructive urges.

The latest is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to revise its “New Source Performance Standards” for coal power plants, allowing coal-fired generators to emit more CO2 per megawatt-hour of electricity generated.  In short, it is a reversal of one of the Obama administrations regulations that requires new coal plants to invest in technology such as carbon capture and storage.

Andrew WheelerEPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, made quite clear what the priorities are, and a clean environment, a sustainable Planet Earth, are definitely not in the equation:

“By replacing onerous regulations with high, yet achievable, standards, we can continue America’s historic energy production, keep energy prices affordable, and encourage new investments in cutting-edge technology that can then be exported around the world.”

I’m not sure who Mr. Wheeler thinks will be buying all that coal, though, for most all nations are investing in renewable energy sources and are hoping to sever the bonds of fossil fuels as soon as possible.  And who, Mr. Wheeler, will mine that coal or buy it when there are no humans left on this earth?

Think of it this way … a classroom of children are each making cards for their mother for Mother’s Day.  Every child is engrossed in cutting, pasting and colouring that special card for mum.  Except one … little Donnie.  Not only is little Donnie sitting with his fat little arms crossed and a scowl on his face, making it clear that he has no intention of making a card for his own mother, but he periodically gets up, walks over to another student and rips their card, or pours ink on it, throws it on the ground and stomps on it.  This is what Donald Trump is doing … he is refusing to allow the U.S. to do our part to try to combat the disastrous effects of climate change, but he is determined to ruin the efforts of other, more conscionable nations.

“This is just one more foolhardy move by a misguided administration that will be judged harshly by future generations.” – David Doniger, senior strategic director of the Climate & Clean Energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Today’s proposal is nothing more than another thoughtless attempt by the Trump Administration to prop up their backwards and false narrative about reviving coal at the expense of science, public safety, and reality.” – Mary Anne Hitt, senior director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.

This is not the first action of Trump and his minions to attempt to revive a dying coal industry.  Prior to this, he rolled back regulations regarding carbon emissions and mercury emissions, as well as coal ash.  What’s next?  A requirement that every household install a coal-burning furnace?

The reality is that his actions will not save the coal industry.  It is a dinosaur headed for extinction, and in this case, the sooner the better.  U.S. coal consumption has declined over the last decade and this year is expected to be at its lowest level in 39 years. Coal has struggled in the U.S. to compete with cheaper electricity produced from natural gas and renewable energy.  And along those lines, there is some good news …

Xcel Energy, which provides electricity to 3.6 million customers in eight states, has become the first major U.S. utility committed to delivering 100 percent carbon-free power by 2050.

Equally remarkable, the plan Xcel announced on Tuesday promises an 80 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. The company stated that “its 2030 goal can be achieved affordably with renewable energy and other technologies currently available.”

According to CEO Ben Fowke …

“This risk of climate change isn’t going away and we want to be the company that does something about it and hopefully inspire others to do something about it too.”

Do you hear that, Mr. Donald Trump???

Xcel has said it can already buy new renewable power plants for less money than it costs to simply operate existing coal plants.  In August, Colorado state regulators approved an Xcel plan to shutter two Colorado coal plants and replace them with renewables plus a battery storage, while saving consumers hundreds of millions of dollars.XcelColorado’s governor-elect, Jared Polis, said …

“One of the great things about this transition is it will create tens of thousands of good, green jobs that will never be outsourced. It’s not only about carbon; it’s also about cleaner air, which means people will be healthier. We’re showing the country the way.”

Do you hear that, Mr. Donald Trump???

There are cities, states and corporations within the U.S. that are determined, despite the whims of Trump and his wealthy cronies, to work toward a sustainable environment, but they cannot do it alone.  We need a federal government that puts life before profit.  We need a federal government that helps and supports efforts such as those being made by Xcel Energy and others.

Lest you fail to understand the urgency, a report released Wednesday by a consortium of researchers known as the Global Carbon Project finds that global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are likely to have increased by about 2.7% in 2018, after a 1.6% increase in 2017.  That’s a 4.3% increase in just two years!

Do you hear that, Mr. Donald Trump???  You are killing us all in your quest for more wealth!

Who Knows What Tomorrow Brings?

The stock market is more fragile than a newborn baby or a piece of fine china.  A word, a look can cause market fluctuations, sending analysts to their desks to … well, analyze.  The most recent example is the roller coaster ride the market took this week (and it’s only Wednesday, folks).  Volatility is the buzz word of the week on Wall Street.

Last weekend, during his trip to participate in the G20 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Trump announced that he and China’s President Xi Jinping had reached an agreement of sorts.  My own thoughts were that it wasn’t anything more than smoke and mirrors, Trump’s attempt to make it appear as if he had at least done something to justify the cost of himself, his wife, daughter, and son-in-law travelling all that distance on our dime.  The agreement seemed to be a non-agreement, for the only thing they actually agreed to was to try to come to some agreement on trade and tariffs within the following 90-day period.  Big deal.  Whoopee.  They could have done that without announcing that they agreed to do it.  Oh yeah, and Trump also said he told Xi that he wouldn’t add any new or additional tariffs on China during the 90 days.  No doubt that had Xi wiping the sweat off his brow.

Some people are apparently not as cynical about these things as I am, for they took great joy in calling their brokers and saying, “BUY, BUY, BUY!!!”  And thus, the stock market climbed on Monday, enough to wipe out the losses of the previous few weeks … losses that had wiped out the gains from the entire year.

But then, Trump appeared to waffle about the “agreement” with a Tuesday morning tweet …Trump tariff manAnd those same people who called their brokers on Monday, placed yet another call saying, “SELL, SELL, SELL!!!”  And thus was born an all new level of volatility in the S&P, the Dow Jones, and Nasdaq, with two-day losses thus far, more than wiping out Monday’s gains and then some.  You know those playground things, basically a board on a fulcrum that are called teeter-totters, or see-saws?  They go up-down-up-down …teeter-totterThat is what the U.S. economy is on.  Market fluctuations based on anticipation of economic or political events are not unusual.  However, rarely are they as significant and immediate based on naught more than a word or a tweet from a madman!  If … IF Donald Trump were a mentally and emotionally stable leader, one might understand why such a remark would set the wheels in motion for a market tumble.  But, given his rarely-coherent state of mind, his lies and reversals, I cannot imagine why anybody would base financial decisions on one of his multitude of daily tweets.

The internet is having great fun with Trump’s new nickname, Tariff Man …Tariff Mantweet-1

tweet-2tweet-3Once again, Trump has made himself, and by extension all of us, a laughingstock.  But it goes deeper than that.  He is playing a game, the rules of which he is ignorant.  And the stakes, for the average person like you and I, are our 401(k)s, our pensions and retirement plans.  On an even larger scale, he is playing with the economic well-being of not only the U.S., but global economies as well.

Our nation is going through enough turbulence at the moment without the person who should be reliable and steadfast creating so much chaos that the major indicator of our economy is swinging on a pendulum.  I am reminded of a line from a song, Up Where We Belong by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes:  Who knows what tomorrow brings?

Good People Doing Good Things — Greta Thunberg

After the Parkland school shooting last February, we saw many of our young people step up to the plate and become … well, the adults in the room, quite honestly.  They declared they had enough of adults being so stupidly in love with their guns that they were willing to sacrifice the very lives of these young people, and in nearly the blink of an eye, these young people became activists for meaningful gun regulations.

On Monday night, our dear friend Colette sent me an email with a suggestion that I look into another young activist fighting for a cause that we should all be fighting for.  Her name is Greta Thunberg, she is 15-years-old and lives in Sweden.  Greta is, as the Parkland kids were, being the adult in the room.  Her cause?  Climate change.

“Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago.”

It takes a lot of courage for a teenage girl to make such a statement, and she is spot on!Greta-2Greta is the daughter of Svante Thunberg, an actor, and Malena Ernman, a well-known opera singer, both people of conscience, as you will see.  Greta developed her special interest in climate change when she was nine years old and in the third grade.  As she tells it …

“They were always talking about how we should turn off lights, save water, not throw out food. I asked why and they explained about climate change. And I thought this was very strange. If humans could really change the climate, everyone would be talking about it and people wouldn’t be talking about anything else. But this wasn’t happening.”

Nine years old, and she had better sense than many world leaders today.  She began researching climate change and has stayed on the topic for six years. She has stopped eating meat and buying anything that is not absolutely necessary. In 2015, she stopped flying on airplanes, and a year later, her mother followed suit, giving up an international performing career. The family has installed solar batteries and has started growing their own vegetables on an allotment outside the city.Greta ThunbergAll of that would be enough, in my book, to dub her a “good person”, but it is barely even the tip of the iceberg.  Fast forward to mid-August when Greta Thunberg went on strike.  That’s right … she went on strike, refusing to attend school until Sweden’s Parliamentary election on September 9th.  Every day, Greta sat quietly on the cobblestones outside parliament in central Stockholm, handing out leaflets that declare: “I am doing this because you adults are shitting on my future.”

When people tell her she should be at school, she points to the textbooks in her satchel …

“I have my books here. But also, I am thinking: what am I missing? What am I going to learn in school? Facts don’t matter anymore, politicians aren’t listening to the scientists, so why should I learn?”Greta-3As word of Greta’s protest spread, so did the protest itself.  At last count, more than 20,000 students around the world have now joined her. The school strikes have spread to at least 270 towns and cities in countries across the world, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the US and Japan. Greta is amazed by the rapid spread of school strikes for climate around the world: “It proves you are never too small to make a difference.”

Greta has since returned to school four days a week, but on Fridays she pursues that which is closest to her heart these days, her activism, her attempt to wake us all up, to help us save ourselves.  Every Friday, she and others sit outside Parliament to raise awareness amongst legislators and passersby.  I may have forgotten to mention that Greta is autistic and has both ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and Asperger’s Syndrome, all of which makes it very difficult for her to speak to other people, yet look at what she has done in spite of her obstacles!

This Monday was the opening of COP24, the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change being held for twelve days in Katowice, Poland.  Greta Thunberg held a press conference.  The sound quality is poor on the video, and I tried to find a better one, but no luck, so instead I am providing a transcript of her speech.

Greta-COP24For 25 years countless of people have stood in front of the United Nations climate conferences, asking our nations’ leaders to stop the emissions. But, clearly this has not worked since the emissions just continue to rise.

So, I will not ask them anything.

Instead I will ask the media to start treating the crisis as a crisis.

Instead I will ask the people around the world to realize that our political leaders have failed us.

Because we are facing an existential threat and there is no time to continue down this road of madness.

Rich countries like Sweden need to start reducing emissions by at least 15% every year to reach the 2 degree warming target. You would think the media and everyone of our leaders would be talking about nothing else – but no one ever even mentions it.

Nor does hardly anyone ever talk about that we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, with up to 200 species going extinct every single day.

Furthermore does no one ever speak about the aspect of equity clearly stated everywhere in the Paris agreement, which is absolutely necessary to make it work on a global scale. That means that rich countries like mine need to get down to zero emissions, within 6–12 years with today’s emission speed, so that people in poorer countries can heighten their standard of living by building some of the infrastructure that we have already built. Such as hospitals, electricity, and clean drinking water.

Because how can we expect countries like India, Colombia or Nigeria to care about the climate crisis if we, who already have everything, don’t care even a second about our actual commitments to the Paris agreement?

So when school started in August this year I sat myself down on the ground outside the Swedish parliament. I school striked for the climate.

Some people say that I should be in school instead. Some people say that I should study to become a climate scientist so that I can “solve the climate crisis”. But the climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions.

And why should I be studying for a future that soon may be no more, when no one is doing anything to save that future? And what is the point of learning facts when the most important facts clearly mean nothing to our society?

Today we use 100 million barrels of oil every single day. There are no politics to change that. There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground.

So, we can’t save the world by playing by the rules. Because the rules have to be changed.

So, we have not come here to beg the world leaders to care for our future. They have ignored us in the past and they will ignore us again.

We have come here to let them know that change is coming whether they like it or not. The people will rise to the challenge. And since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago.

This young lady has courage beyond what I could have even begun to imagine when I was her age — or even now, for that matter!  She is an inspiration to so many others who have joined her in the good fight.  Every Wednesday I write this post about ‘Good People Doing Good Things’ … Greta Thunberg is by every measure a good person, and she is doing good things, not just for a few people, but for every living, breathing organism on this planet.  She is doing what our leaders haven’t the courage to do.  She is doing what none of us have the courage to do.  She is trying to save our lives.  I hope that the people with the money and more importantly, the power to do something listen to Greta and her words of wisdom, for all our lives depend on it.  If future generations stand a chance, it will be because of young people of conscience like Greta Thunberg.  Thank you, Greta.

Many thanks to Colette for this suggestion, and also for a number of emails containing links to information and video!  There is much more I could write about Greta Thunberg, but in the interest of time and space, I have included a few links below, for those who would like to know more.

Greta Thunberg: “Sweden is not a Role Model”

Greta Thunberg speaks in Katowice: ”Our leaders behave like children”

Greta on Twitter

What Happens If …

There are a number of opinion writers I greatly respect, and Charles M. Blow is in the top ten.  Mr. Blow writes for the New York Times and his work is most always level-headed and thoughtful.  Amid the many calls for impeachment to remove Trump from office, cooler heads must sometimes prevail.  In Blow’s column from December 2nd he explains why removing Trump from office is not a likely scenario, but would be the beginning of a new nightmare.

What Happens If …

The possibilities ahead in the Russia investigation suggest we are not reaching the end of a nightmare, but rather entering one.

Charles BlowBy Charles M. Blow

I no longer think that anyone in America, including Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters, can afford to put off the consideration of the central question of this administration: What if Donald Trump or those closest to him were compromised by the Russians or colluded with them?

There have always been those of us on the left who viewed his presidency as compromised, asterisk-worthy if not wholly illegitimate, because of the Russian interference.

A crime had been committed by Russia and Trump cheered the crime and used the loot thereof to advance his candidacy. That is clear.

The Russians made repeated attempts to contact people in Trump’s orbit and in some cases were able to meet with members of the team, as evidenced by the Trump Tower meeting. That is clear.

Members of Trump’s team were extremely interested in and eager to accept any assistance that the Russians could provide. That is clear.

And since assuming office, Trump has openly attempted to obstruct justice and damage or impede the investigation into what the Russians did and whether anyone in his orbit was part of the crime. That too is clear.

But for the people who support and defend Trump, this has already been absorbed andabsolved. They may not like it, but they are willing to overlook it. Indeed, they are so attached to Trump that his fortunes and his fate have become synonymous with theirs. There is a spiritual linkage, a baleful bond, between the man and his minions.

But what happens if the evidence that the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, uncovers reveals a direct link between Trump and the Russians? How do Trump’s boosters respond?

Last week, when Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the timeline and the extent of Mr. Trump’s involvement in negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow, the political earth shifted.

If Trump was lying to or misleading the American people about his efforts to do business in Russia while running for president and the Russians knew — and presumably had evidence — that he wasn’t being completely honest and forthcoming, then he was compromised.

While it is by no means clear that the Russians ever used any information that they may have had to blackmail or otherwise pressure Trump, Cohen’s plea makes clear that they had the material to do just that.

This brings ever more clarity to Trump’s curious inclination to go soft on Russia condemnation, to take Russian President Vladimir Putin’s word over that of his own intelligence agencies, and to drag his feet in acknowledging that Russia attacked our election in 2016 and may continue to do so in the future.

How would Americans who support Trump now respond to evidence that Team Trump put their own personal and financial interests over the national interest? Would they break from their blind support and turn away from him and turn on him? How could they justify wearing the blinders for so long and countenancing so much? What language would they use to correct their complicity?

There is a precedent in the Nixon investigation. When the evidence of wrongdoing was clear and incontrovertible, people began to peel away, tails tucked and full of shame.

But that was a different time, one in which media wasn’t so fractured and partisan, before the advent of social media and our current dissociable mentalities.

Nixon had no propaganda arm. Trump has one. It’s called Fox News. There is little daylight between the network’s programming and the White House’s priorities. If Trump goes down, so too does Fox, in some measure. So the network has a vested interest in defending Trump until the bitter end, and that narrative-crafting could impede an otherwise natural and normal disaffection with Trump.

Furthermore, Trump does not strike me as a man amenable to contrition or one interested in the health and stability of the nation.

I expect Trump to admit nothing, even if faced with proof positive of his own misconduct. There is nothing in the record to convince me otherwise. He will call the truth a lie and vice versa.

I also don’t think that Trump would ever voluntarily leave office as Nixon did, even if he felt impeachment was imminent. I’m not even sure that he would willingly leave if he were impeached and the Senate moved to convict, a scenario that is hard to imagine at this point.

I don’t think any of this gets better, even as the evidence becomes clearer. I don’t believe that Trump’s supporters would reverse course in the same way that Nixon’s did. I don’t believe that the facts Mueller presents will be considered unassailable. I don’t believe Trump will go down without bringing the country down with him.

In short, I don’t believe we are reaching the end of a nightmare, but rather we are entering one. This will not get easier, but harder.

The country is about to enter the crucible. This test of our republic is without a true comparison. And we do not have a clear picture of how the test will resolve. But, I believe damage is certain.

Our Planet … Our Home … Our Lives

Just because you don’t understand something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  Do you understand how your car’s transmission works?  Do you understand about the little and slightly-less-little gears that engage and disengage to shift your car into just the right ratio based on speed, incline, etc?  Do you understand the intricacies about how your lungs take in air, process the oxygen and send it into the blood stream, then emit the unwanted part, carbon dioxide (CO2)?  Do you understand how the bit of electricity coming from that wall outlet can make your clothes washing machine agitate and spin and sometimes sound like the Eagle Has Landed?  No, and neither do I, but yet we take for granted that the car will run, our lungs will do what they are supposed to in order to keep us alive, and as long as we insert the plug properly, the machine will clean the clothes.  There are many, many things in our daily lives that we accept at face value, even though we may not understand the science behind them.

So please tell me why, all of a sudden, half the nation has decided to repudiate the concept of human-caused climate change and the predictions made by highly-educated, intelligent and knowledgeable scientists?

People go to a doctor and are altogether too willing to assume that he knows exactly the right medicine to give you to cure whatever ails you.  Most people don’t even ask questions, like how does this drug work, what are the likely and remote side effects, why do you think this drug is the best for my condition.  Nope, they just say okay, take the script to the nearest pharmacy and happily ingest whatever doc said.  Why?  Because he has a degree, because he is supposed to be knowledgeable, because he wears a white coat.  The truth is that far more doctors play trial and error, or pander to the drug reps who wine & dine them and give them nice gifts at Christmas time than you probably care to know.  But still, you trust them.  So, why not trust scientists who also have a degree, are knowledgeable, and unlike your doctor, have no reason to lie to you?

There is likely no simple, single answer to that question.  For some, merely the fact that Donald Trump says it’s a hoax, and that even if the earth is warming, it will “all change back” soon.  Why anybody would believe a ‘man’ who is proven to lie some 96% of the time, over the entire scientific community and the results of their research is well beyond my comprehension.

In the past, we have had presidents who listened to the experts in their fields.  These men understood the value of knowledge and education.  These men asked questions, gave careful consideration to the data they were provided, and made the wisest decisions they could based on the information they had.  This is why nearly every leader on the globe, including our own President Obama, signed the Paris climate accord, the agreement dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance.  When 97% of the worlds scientists studying the changes in climate tell you that there is a serious problem, it’s time to sit up and take notice.

But Donald Trump, because it isn’t convenient for him, calls it a ‘hoax’, says the Chinese are the initiators of said hoax in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.  Say WHAT???  I imagine there is some twisted connection somewhere inside Trump’s head, but to a reasonably intelligent person, that statement makes absolutely no sense.

It is enough that half the nation fall prostate at Donald’s feet when he denies that climate change is a serious problem, but far, far worse is the fact that the U.S. Congress … or at least the republican element of it … is toeing the party line, falling in line behind Trump, wanting to be seen to be in his corner, on his ship.  Why?  I don’t know, but I know that since we voted for them and we are paying their salary, they are supposed to be looking out for our best interests.  Ignoring report after report showing the likely effects, not in some far off distant future, but now … today … is definitely not in our best interest.

Donald Trump is without question the biggest liar we have ever seen in a leadership role in this country.  He lies even when there is no reason to do so.  He lies so much that he doesn’t even know what is true anymore.  So why on earth would anybody believe him when all the evidence is the opposite of what he says.  Remember last month’s fires in California?  The hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico in 2017 and in North Carolina this year?  Not just any ol’ fires, not just your run o’ the mill hurricanes, but ecological disasters!

Donald Trump may refute the evidence, the reports and what is before his very eyes, but some people are taking it all very seriously and doing something about it.  One such man is Yvon Chouinard, billionaire founder of outdoor apparel firm Patagonia.

Yvon Chouinard

Yvon Chouinard

According to a Forbes article on November 29th

Patagonia announced it has an additional $10 million in profits on its books for 2018 as a result of Trump’s “irresponsible tax cut” last year, which lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. Instead of investing the additional dollars back into its business, Patagonia said it would give $10 million to grassroot groups fighting climate change, including organizations that work in regenerative organic agriculture to help reverse global warming.

“Our government continues to ignore the seriousness and causes of the climate crisis,” Chouniard said in a statement. “It’s pure evil.”

A billionaire businessman with both a brain and a conscience!  Can we clone him?

“We need an agriculture system that supports small family farms and ranches, not one that rewards chemical companies intent on destroying our planet and poisoning our food. And we need to protect our public lands and waters because they are all we have left.”

Last December, the front page for Patagonia’s website read …Patagonia front pageThe planet Earth will remain in its orbit for the foreseeable future.  Whether it will sustain human, animal or plant life beyond the next few years is up to us.  Donald Trump is not a good steward, is not taking care of our home, but is systematically making decisions on a near-daily basis that are likely to make all lifeforms we know today unsustainable into the future.  It is up to us, for the billionaires in Trump’s circle are too busy making money to care about our future.