Well, folks, it is finally here, the day we had all hoped would give us our lives back, Wednesday, 20 January 2021.  Inauguration Day.  Or what would have been inauguration day.  Instead, it’s just another day of life in a nearly four million square mile prison.

Remember how excited we were a year ago?  Or even a few short months ago?  It was an election year, Trump’s base had dwindled to a scant 30% or so, and all the polls were predicting a huge win for the democratic team of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.  For the first time since Barack Obama left office the majority of us were once again hopeful.  Hopeful that the United States would re-join the Paris Climate Agreement, would re-implement regulations on the coal, oil, gas, auto and other industries to cut way back on carbon emissions.  We would Tear Down That Wall that was built without our consent or advice last year.  We had hope that our voices would once again be heard and count for something.

Then came that fateful Friday, November 1st 2020 … just four short days before the election.  I remember waking to see the blue light flashing on my phone, reaching for glasses and phone, nearly knocking the lamp off the night table in the process.  I immediately knew something terrible had happened, for there were “Breaking News!” updates … no less than five of them … from WaPo, NYT, Reuters, The Guardian, and my local news station.

“Breaking News!  Donald Trump has declared a State of National Emergency, claiming that North Korea is planning to launch nuclear missiles aimed at the United States.” 

My heart stopped, but not because I was afraid of North Korea lobbing nukes at us.  Heck, they couldn’t hit their target if they tried, and although tensions had been on the rise between our two countries, there had been nothing to indicate this level of conflict. In fact, my best guess is that the tensions were manufactured by Trump and Kim Jong-un. No, I was afraid for another reason.  I knew.  I just knew that the next move, or the one after that, would be to ‘postpone’ or cancel next week’s elections.  Trump, after all, studied under the best … Putin and Erdoğan.

And then, sure enough, like clockwork on Monday morning, the day before what would have been election day, more breaking news …

“Breaking News!  Donald Trump has announced that tomorrow’s elections will be postponed indefinitely due to the ongoing threat of war by North Korea.  Stay tuned …”

And a few hours later, this …

“Breaking News!  There has been an unsubsta …

Then nothing.  I well remember trying to log onto The Washington Post … nothing but a little circle twirling round and round, and finally … “This site cannot be reached at this time – please try again later.”  The New York Times … same thing.  I tried BBC, Reuters and about ten other news sites … nothing. I stepped outside … the world looked normal … no tanks in the street, no sound of military jets overhead, no big mushroom clouds on the horizon.  But the world was not normal and never would be again.Democracy dies in darknessI paced.  I texted my daughter … no reply.  I tried to call her … no answer.  I simply had to know what was happening!  I tried Facebook … I was able to log on, and everything appeared normal, but there were no recent posts by any of my friends, and when I tried to use Messenger to get a message to one of my friends in the UK, a message popped up saying “This service is temporarily unavailable.”

In the two-and-a-half months since that fateful day, we have been largely isolated from any credible news.  I am occasionally able to receive worried emails from friends in the UK, Australia and Canada telling me what little they know, but those messages are few and far between, and they bring no hope – only more despair.  Life goes on.  I clean house, cook, and most of all I’ve kept writing.  The grocery stores and shopping malls are still open, and one could almost believe that this is all a figment of my imagination.  People seem to go on about their daily business without even noticing.  Perhaps I appear that way too.

I have written every day, although WordPress was shut down in early November, so my words are silent cries.  Today would have seen the inauguration of President Joe Biden had our republic been allowed to survive the reign of Donald Trump.  I can no longer live in this nation, a nation where we are no longer free people.  I am leaving my writings from the past months in the hands of my daughter, in hopes that someday she can find a way to send them to a friend across the pond who will know what to do with them.  Rest in Peace, United States of America.

United States of America, July 4, 1776 – November 5, 2020liberty cries

Note to readers:  The above is, I hope, a work of fiction, a figment of my over-active mind.  Let’s all do whatever we can to keep it a work of fiction and never let this become our reality.

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.

And We Thought Trump Was Horrible?

On Sunday, October 7th, Brazilians elected a new president, Jair Bolsonaro.  Until this man was elected, I thought that the U.S. was alone in having lost its collective mind, as evidenced by the election of Donald Trump.  Bolsonaro is every abominable thing Trump is … and much more.  I have to question the sanity of the 55% of Brazilians who voted for this demagogue.  But then, I have long questioned the sanity of those in the U.S. who voted for Donald Trump, also.  Oh, and guess who worked on Bolsonaro’s campaign?  None other than Trump’s former campaign advisor, Steve Bannon!!!Bolsonaro-TrumpFirst let’s look at some similarities …

  • Opposes most all forms of gun control
  • Strongly opposed to same-sex marriage
  • Opposes environmental regulations
  • Opposes women’s right of choice
  • Opposes affirmative action
  • Opposes land reforms
  • Opposes secularism
  • Plans to pull out of Paris climate accord
  • Plans to move Brazil’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem
  • Is on his third marriage (yes, it’s irrelevant, but still says something, I think)

But then there are those ideas and rhetoric that take him beyond even what Trump dares to say …

He has made statements in defense of the former Brazilian military regime (a dictatorship known for constant human rights violations). He claims that torture is a “legitimate practice” and says that he would try to pass new legislation regarding the introduction of life imprisonment to the Brazilian penal code.

Bolsonaro said that “the error of the dictatorship was that it tortured but did not kill”.

Brazil has the world’s largest tropical rainforest in the Amazon basin. Bolsonaro has chafed at foreign pressure to safeguard the rainforest, and he served notice to international nonprofit groups such as the World Wildlife Fund that he will not tolerate their agendas in Brazil. He has also come out strongly against lands reserved for indigenous tribes. Bolsonaro advisers additionally say that he plans to expand nuclear and hydroelectric power into the Amazon.

In a 2017 speech, Bolsonaro stated, “God above everything. There is no such thing as this secular state. The state is Christian, and the minority will have to change, if they can.”

Bolsonaro argued that men and women should not receive the same salaries, because women get pregnant; adding that he believes federal law mandating paid maternity leave harms work productivity.  Bolsonaro said that he had five children, that the first four were male and that for the fifth he produced a daughter out of “a moment of weakness”.

Bolsonaro said that “I would be incapable of loving a gay son,” and added that he would prefer any gay son of his “to die in an accident…”  Seriously???  Wow, what a dad, huh?  He went on to say that if a gay couple moved in next door to him, it would lower the market value of his house. Bolsonaro linked homosexuality to pedophilia, claiming that “many of the children who are adopted by gay couples will be abused by these couples.”  I have to ask … what rock did this pos slither out from under???  “If I see two men kissing in the street, I will beat them.” He then publicly defended beating gay children by saying: “If your child starts to become like that, a little gay, you take a whip and you change their behavior.”

On October 4, 2018, Bolsonaro said: “A father does not want to come home and see his son playing with a doll by the influence of school. Homosexuals will be happy if I become president”


Don Trump, Jr. (center) with Eduardo Bolsonaro (second from left)

Trump and Bolsonaro both indicate they plan to work together to improve relations between the U.S. and Brazil, and their sons have already met.  Eduardo Bolsonaro, Bolsonaro’s eldest son, met with Don Trump Jr. in Las Vegas. “They went to a shooting range together—not a major meeting but they got to know each other a bit,” according to a member of Bolsonaro’s party.  Following Bolsonaro’s victory, Trump tweeted …

“Had a very good conversation with the newly elected President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who won the race by a substantial margin. We agreed that Brazil and the United States will work closely together on Trade, Military and everything else!”

Bolsonaro-2Bolsonaro’s election is another feather in the cap of the populist movement.  He won by tapping into a deep well of resentment at the status quo in Brazil — a country whiplashed by rising crime and two years of political and economic turmoil — and by presenting himself as the alternative.  Unlike Donald Trump in 2016, Bolsonaro actually won the popular vote by 55%, but one thing they both said that is striking is that “I alone can fix this”.  And they have in common their loudness, their crassness, their utter contempt for such things as respect, common courtesy and quiet dignity.  They are both loud, ‘in your face’ sorts.  Both countries have a large women’s protest movement … in the U.S. it is “Never Trump” and in Brazil it is “Ele Nao” (Not Him).

Like Trump, Bolsonaro has been a divisive figure in Brazil and those who love him seem to do so mainly for his tough talk.  Having seen what nearly two years of Trump has wrought upon this nation, I can only empathize with the people of Brazil.  Is this, then, the face of things to come, the type of ‘leader’ that people around the world will choose in the future?  Let us hope not.

Cause of Death: Donald Trump

This column by The Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson speaks for itself … in fact, the title says it all …

Our planet is in crisis. We don’t have time for Trump’s foolishness.

Eugene-RobinsonHere is how to interpret the alarming new United Nations-sponsored report on global warming: We are living in a horror movie. The world needs statesmen to lead the way to safety. Instead, we have President Trump, who essentially says, “Hey, let’s all head to the dark, creepy basement where the chain saws and razor-sharp axes are kept. What could go wrong?”

The answer is almost everything, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The impact of human-induced warming is worse than previously feared, the report released Monday says, and only drastic, coordinated action will keep the damage short of catastrophe.

To this point, climate change has been a slow-motion calamity whose impacts, month to month and year to year, have been hard to perceive. Unfortunately, according to the report, that is about to change.

The burning of fossil fuels on an industrial scale has raised global temperatures by about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. That may not sound like much, but look at the consequences we’re already seeing: Stronger, slower, wetter tropical storms. Unprecedented heat waves. Devastating floods. Dying coral reefs. A never-before-seen summer shipping lane across the Arctic Ocean.

Meanwhile, humankind continues to pump heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a tragically self-destructive rate. The IPCC calculates that a further temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius — almost inevitable, given our dependence on coal, oil and gas — would be challenging but manageable. An increase of about 2 degrees, however, would be disastrous.

What’s the difference? With a 1.5-degree rise, about 14 percent of the world’s population would be vulnerable to severe and deadly heat waves every five years; with a 2-degree rise, that figure jumps to 37 percent. With a 1.5-degree rise, an additional 350 million city dwellers worldwide will face water shortages; with a 2-degree rise, 411 million people will suffer such drought. With a 1.5-degree rise, coral reefs will experience “very frequent mass mortalities”; with a 2-degree rise, coral reefs will “mostly disappear.”

Small differences can have huge impacts. Under the 1.5-degree scenario, up to 69 million people will be newly exposed to flooding. Under the 2-degree scenario — which the report estimates would boost sea-level rise by as much as 36 inches — the number rises to 80 million.

Please don’t dismiss all of this as just another boring compendium of carefully hedged facts and figures. I have followed the IPCC’s research since covering the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The new report strikes a different tone that combines weary fatalism with hair-on-fire alarm. In dry, just-the-facts language, it predicts declining fisheries, failing crops, more widespread risk from tropical diseases such as malaria, economic dislocation in the most-affected countries — and, by logical extension, greater political instability.

All of these impacts are bad with 1.5 more degrees of temperature rise. With 2 degrees they are much, much worse.

The obvious solution is to dramatically reduce carbon emissions. The IPCC says emissions need to decline by at least 40 percent by 2030 and to reach net zero by 2050, if we are to hold warming to 1.5 degrees. Yet last year, according to the International Energy Agency, global emissions hit an all-time high.

Since 2016, representatives of 195 nations — including all the big emitters — signed on to the landmark Paris agreement calling for systematic emissions reductions beginning in 2020. But Trump, who has ignorantly called climate change a “hoax,” decided to withdraw the United States from the pact. Even worse, Trump is aggressively trying to increase reliance on coal, which contributes a disproportionate amount of carbon dioxide emissions compared with other fossil fuels.

U.S. carbon emissions actually fell slightly in 2017, because of the expansion of the renewable energy sector. But Trump administration policies are designed to reverse that trend; and if they fail to do so, it will be because the rest of the world is already moving toward clean energy — a huge economic shift that threatens to leave the United States behind.

When you read the IPCC report, you see that what the world really needs is visionary leadership. As the world’s greatest economic power and its second-largest carbon emitter, the United States is uniquely capable of shepherding a global transition to renewable energy. Instead, the Trump administration rejects the science of climate change and actively favors dirty energy sources over clean ones.

Humanity has no time for such foolishness. “I’m the president of the United States. I’m not the president of the globe,” Trump thundered at a recent rally. On what planet does he think this nation resides?

The Biggest Bully …

As we all know, last week Donald Trump reneged on our commitment to the Iran nuclear agreement, calling it a ‘terrible deal’.  It was an extremely poor decision – nay, it was a disastrous decision.  Within 24 hours after his announcement, tensions in the Middle East increased and Iran, Israel and Syria were playing a game of ‘chicken’.  Our allies looked at us as if we had two heads, shook their own heads, and then began frantically scrambling to salvage the deal, if possible, without the U.S.  Frankly, we have now become a non-player, a pariah in the global world, an albatross to our allies, and a danger to global peace, such as it is.  But there’s more …

Donald Trump, with advise from his new National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has announced that he will impose sanctions on any of our allies who conduct business with Iran!  Just who the Sam Hell died and left him boss of the world???  Donald Trump has absolutely no concept of how global relations work, and worse, he has surrounded himself with warmongers who advocate bombing first, asking questions later.  Diplomacy is not in their vocabulary, apparently.

According to The Guardian …

“Trump’s most senior foreign policy aides signalled that the US would continue pressuring allies to follow Washington in backing out of the pact, which gave Tehran relief from sanctions in exchange for halting its nuclear programme.

John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, predicted that “the Europeans will see that it’s in their interests to come along with us” rather than continue with the 2015 deal, under which major European corporations have signed billions of dollars of contracts in Iran.

US sanctions on Iran reimposed following Trump’s withdrawal not only block American firms from doing business in the country, but also bar foreign firms that do business there from accessing the entire US banking and financial system.

Trump’s decision to scrap the nuclear deal was sharply criticised by European leaders, who have pledged to uphold their side of the agreement.”

This is bullying, pure and simple.  A simple example … five children are on the playground:  Rouhani, Donnie, Theresa, Angela and Emmanuel.

The children are playing companionably, when all of a sudden Donnie gets mad at Rouhani and jerks the toy out of Rouhani’s hand.  Then Donnie kicks sand in the other children’s faces and stomps off.  The other children remain and try to start playing again, but Donnie stomps back over and jerks the toys out of the hands of Theresa, Angela and kicks Emmanuel in the face before taking his toy also.  This is beyond being a bully … this is a kid with psychopathic tendencies.  This is exactly what Trump is doing … to our allies!  Our friends!!!

The United States ceded its role as a global leader.  Donald Trump made it perfectly clear in May 2017 when, at the Nato summit in Belgium, he refused to reiterate the U.S.’ support of Article 5, which affirms that NATO members will come to the mutual defense of any member that is under attack. Every president since Harry Truman in 1949 has pledged to honour Article 5 … but Trump refused. That wasn’t the first sign, but it was the first major red flag to our allies that he was planning to kick sand in their faces.

The very next month, he announced his intention to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, making the U.S. the only nation on the globe that is not committed to doing its share to protect our planet.

It was only three days after his inauguration that he signed an executive order ending the United States’ participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a major trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and United States that had been signed one year prior.  This was, perhaps, the beginning of the end – the first move away from being a player in the global economy and a step toward isolationism.

And then, of course, there was the announcement that we would not fulfill our responsibilities on the Iran nuclear deal, formally Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).  With all these moves, plus many more less far-reaching, Trump has signaled to every other nation on the globe that he doesn’t plan to be a global player, that he is not a part of the team, and he plays only by his own rules, nobody else’s.

Trump’s decision to isolate the U.S. from the rest of the world, even wishing to build walls on our borders, is a very dangerous move, but any way you look at it, there is nothing … nothing … that gives him the right to dictate to other nations with whom they are allowed to do business.  Not only, would it seem, is Trump determined to escalate tensions in the Middle-East with his poor knowledge and judgment, but now he is trying to cause the very nations that were once our allies to declare war on us!

Meanwhile, he panders to the likes of Saudi King Salman, Russian President Putin, and President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte.  And he practically falls to his knees when he hears the name Netanyahu. Dictators all, to a greater or lesser degree.  While he bans immigrants from other predominantly Muslim nations, claiming they may be terrorists, he leaves the borders open to the Saudis, even though 15 of the 19 terrorist hijackers on 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia!  When he visited Saudi Arabia in May  2017, he told King Salman that they “will never question our support,” adding, “We are not here to lecture.”

There are plans for Trump to visit the UK and meet with Theresa May, and possibly, though it is not yet certain, meet the Queen on Friday, July 13th (think about that date, folks!).  But, in light of his multiple slaps in the face to the UK and other European nations, I would not be surprised if the invitation is rescinded.  Frankly, I hope it is, for the British people emphatically do not want him there, and I don’t imagine that Ms. May is any too happy with him at the moment.

Donald Trump has become every bit as much a bully as any dictator in the world.  He is leading the U.S. down a path toward being a lone island, with few who will stand beside us.  Economically, between his horrendous ‘tax bill’ last December, the tariffs he is imposing on our allies, and pulling out of the TPP, we are likely to see our economy in far worse shape by the end of this year.  Everything he has touched, he has destroyed.  The United States should hang her head in shame, for we have lost everything we could once be proud of.  Our leader is a bully and we will pay the price.

** A brief footnote:  Because of Donald Trump’s poor decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem with all due haste, last night, at least 52 Palestinians protesting at the  border were shot dead by Israeli soldiers and more than 1,700 were injured.  Those 40 deaths lie directly at the feet of none other than Donald Trump. 

Blowing in the Wind …

We have descended into lunacy, my friends.  Can we claw our way back out?  I’m beginning to have doubts – serious doubts.  My fear is that there is a master plan … that by November, we will all be declared incompetent to vote in the mid-term elections, for we will be sitting on the sidewalk in our underwear babbling incoherently while dribble runs off our chins.  Welcome to 2018 – the not-so-brave-new-world of the D.S.A. – the Divided States of America.

To prove my point, I offer a number of exhibits:

Exhibit A:  The chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives is asked to tender his resignation because his prayer included something about equality and justice for all. (Really subversive stuff, eh Padre?)  He tenders the resignation, then re-thinks it and rescinds the resignation.  And then, a week or so later, a shouting match erupts on the floor of the House over the chaplain.  According to Politico, “The exchange was so heated that some lawmakers and aides watching worried they’d come to blows.”  Over the chaplain.

Exhibit B:  The president of the nation has been involved in some 5,000 lawsuits and has no less than 19 women accusing him of sexual abuse.  He has been married three times and cheated on every single one of those wives. He is also under scrutiny for an affair that he had with, of all things, a porn star, and the payoff of ‘hush money’ to keep her quiet until after the 2016 election.  And to ice the cake, said president is under very serious investigation for the role that he and his family played in colluding with the Russian government to buy his electoral win in the 2016 election.

Exhibit C:  The D.S.A. has become the only nation of the 195 countries on the globe that refuses to believe in science, and has committed to a course of action that will lead the entire globe to a cataclysmic end if not quickly reversed.  But to take it a step further, said D.S.A. has also committed to destructive environmental practices, removing safeguards for both the environment and for human life.

Exhibit D:  In the past six months we have seen a neo-Nazi, a handful of white supremacists, a pedophile and a convicted felon run for election to the U.S. Congress.  And people actually voted for these jerks.

Exhibit E:  The lawmaking body, in fear or awe of the president, have passed legislation that is designed to ensure the demise of the poorest 15% of the nation’s population.  These include making affordable health care unavailable, taking away subsidized housing, refusing to raise the minimum wage, which has not been raised since 2009, and despite the fact that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has risen some 37% since that time.

Exhibit F:  The word ‘freedom’ has been officially re-defined as the right to discriminate against anyone who does not, a) agree with you, b) look like you, and c) think like you.  Not only, might I add, discriminate, but if you feel your ‘freedom’ is compromised by, say, somebody whose skin is darker than yours or whose sexual orientation is different, you have been given the right to cause bodily injury to that person, and then have them thrown in jail for … the crime of … being different.

Exhibit G:  The leadership of the nation is now directed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), and any of our ‘elected representatives’ who do not support giving every white male the right to shoot and kill another with a big, bad gun that can mow down hundreds within a minute or two, is threatened with political extinction.  Worse, the majority of the people in this nation believe that they have a “God-given” right to own as many weapons as they like and to use them however they see fit.  In some cases, these people even put the love of their guns ahead of the love of their own children.

Exhibit H:  The so-called leadership of this nation has decided that education is not important and there is a concerted push among our government to promote illiteracy.  How?  By making student debt so daunting that most would prefer to leave high school and go work in a factory than to attend college.  By eschewing a sound public education for all, in favour of ‘charter schools’ that benefit few and teach little.  And by ensuring that students are not encouraged to think for themselves, but rather to ‘follow the yellow brick road’.

Exhibit I:  The nation’s already-wealthiest people and corporations have been given a huge gift in the form of reduced taxation, thus setting the nation on a collision course with financial disaster.  Despite a significantly reduced revenue in the national coffers, more money is being spent on the military – a military that already operates on the largest budget on the globe.

Exhibit J:  There is a madman at the helm who seems intent on giving himself the opportunity to “push the nuclear button”, a button that he has thought of as a toy to be played with and brandished about ever since his election.  For those, and there are some, who agree with the madman, I would suggest a glance back to August 6, 1945 (the bombing of Hiroshima) and August 9, 1945 (the bombing of Nagasaki) – look at the pictures, see the people, and ask yourself, “Is this what I want to see in this, the 21st century?”

I could go on, but my muse tells me that I have made my point and that it is time to stop, for the sake of my own mental and physical well-being.  Yes, we have descended into lunacy, a free-fall that must surely have a bottom, but that we have yet to find.  None of what we are seeing in this nation today is ‘normal’, none of it is wise, and none of it is leading us to a good place. Where does it end?  Are there any limits in this nation today?  Is there a point at which even the blind who are playing follow-the-leader realize that they are following him into a dark place from which there may be no return?  I cannot answer these questions, but it is imperative that we keep asking them.  It is imperative that we make our voices heard, for it is our only hope to return to a world of sanity.

A Rudderless Ship — Part III

I think I can honestly make the statement that the United States of America is adrift with no leadership.  Donald Trump is more concerned with almost anything except the myriad of troubles facing this nation and its people, and the majority in Congress are more concerned with staying on Trump’s good side, if he has one, than with serving their constituents.  Perhaps of equal concern is that a significant portion of the adult population of this nation seem content to remain bobbing in a vast sea of nothingness, just so long as Trump rants and talks ‘tough’.

We do not have a president at the helm, but instead we have an entertainer, a circus clown.  Trump’s personal lawyer (one of a cadre) is under investigation and has, it turns out, done so many shady deals that the sun may never shine in his presence.  I’m betting a good number of those deals were done on behalf of Trump.  His current doctor is an alcoholic candyman and his former doctor is a looney bird who, it turns out, let Trump write his own health report in which he said he would be the ‘healthiest president in history’.

The man who sits in the Oval Office does not understand foreign policy in the least bit, and worse yet, sees no reason to learn anything about how the U.S. does or should interact with other nations.  Instead, his foreign policy consists of one and only one goal:  to undo anything and everything that was done during the eight years of the Obama administration.  Thus, he has announced his decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, leaving the U.S. the only nation on the globe that has said, “oh well” and shrugged its shoulders to the ongoing devastation caused by carbon emissions into the atmosphere.  He has destroyed important international trade agreements without even knowing what the terms are, and further, imposed damning tariffs on friends and foes alike.  He is likely to cancel the Iran deal that was making the world safer.

He is under investigation for collusion with Russia in order to buy the election, and for obstruction of justice in trying to interfere with investigations into his wrong doings.  And instead of being cooperative or showing even a modicum of concern, he acts for all the world as if he is guilty and spends his time ranting about being a ‘victim’ of a witch hunt.  Although he did not win the election honestly – that much is already proven – he is still spending time pursuing his opponent, Hillary Clinton … even after he has been in office for fifteen months!  Talk about a witch hunt!

His intent was never to govern or to lead … his intent was always to rule.  He does not insist on knowledge or intellect from his staff, but rather asks for blind loyalty and empty, inane praise.  He does not wish to hear from his advisors what he needs to hear, but rather what he wants to hear.  And thus far, most of his staff have been happy to comply.  Those who didn’t, such as James Comey and Rex Tillerson, are no longer part of his staff.  His lawyers are making a mad dash for the exits, much like rats deserting a sinking ship.

Donald Trump is tearing this nation apart.  He is making horrible decisions affecting humans, the environment and the economy … decisions that will carry a high price tag well into the future.  He has the mental capacity of a five-year-old and the linguistic skills of a teenager.

So with all that said, could somebody please tell me why his overall approval rating, as based on an aggregate of polls, keeps edging up???  What the Sam Heck are people finding to approve of?  What’s to like?  Not. One. Single. Thing. Granted, there is some skewing of the polls, for people like you and I rarely if ever respond to unsolicited phone calls, meaning that the average person polled is likely a bored housewife with nothing better to do who will say she likes Trump because he “tells it like it is”, as she read on a Facebook meme one day.

Instead of worrying about important issues both at home and abroad, he is planning a military parade whereby the armed forces will march down Pennsylvania Avenue and salute him.  Instead of trying to actually understand the complexities of the Iran deal, he is busy threatening Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein over a closed case against Hillary Clinton.  Instead of taking time to study the data on climate change, he is trying to figure out a CYA plan to counter a lawsuit by a former mistress.  THIS IS NOT A PRESIDENT!

The United States was once considered a world leader, was once referred to as the land of opportunity, but in just fifteen short months we have started down a path toward being barely above a third world, underdeveloped nation.  Our leaders care not if we have health care, if we have air that is breathable or water that is drinkable.  They care not that we are so far in debt and getting in deeper every day.  They care not that racism and white supremacy are on the rise.  It is time for the people … yes you REPUBLICANS … to wake up and smell the coffee!  In the Capitol we have a majority of wimps who are too afraid of Trump and the GOP to do the right thing.  WAKE UP, Congress, and realize that Donald Trump is NOT your boss – We The People are!  If they have not stood firm and begun the process of removing Trump from office by November, they better be voted out of their own offices, else by the next election, this rudderless ship will have hit the iceberg and be on its way to the bottom of the sea.

A Rudderless Ship — Part I

A Rudderless Ship — Part II

The Unraveling of the EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, is intended to do exactly what you might expect from the name … protect the environment.  In the Trumpian world of alternative language, however, it is apparently understood a bit differently:  the EPA is to protect the fossil fuel industry and assist them in destroying the environment.

pruitt-pollutionIf there was a worse possible choice for Director of the EPA, I do not know who it could have been.  I won’t rehash all his disqualifications, but merely remind you that as Attorney General of Oklahoma from 2011 – 2017, Pruitt sued the EPA, the very agency he now runs, no less than 13 times on behalf of the fossil fuel industry, and labeled himself as “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.”  Indeed, in 2015, he called for the elimination of the agency! Rather like hiring the man who threatened to shoot my horse, to watch over my horse, don’t you think? And it goes without saying that Pruitt rejects the scientific consensus that human activities are a primary contributor to climate change and that carbon dioxide is the primary contributor.

Since taking the agency reins in February 2017, he has:

  • Lied to Congress about a private email account he uses to communicate with representatives of the fossil fuel industry

  • Cut the EPA budget by more than 30%

  • Cut staffing by more than 700 employees, some in key positions that remain unfilled.

  • Imposed a cloak of secrecy where employees are forbidden to take notes at meetings, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests are blatantly denied, and implemented ‘gag rules’, forbidding employees to speak of environmental issues.

  • Shifted numerous staff members to his own private security detail, costing taxpayers $830,000 per year.

  • Eliminated regulations that:
    • Verified emissions from a company’s industrial expansion are what the company says they are. (Now the EPA will simply take estimates at face value. But all these big corporations are so honest that this should work out well, don’t you think?)
    • Blocked a potentially disastrous mining operation in Alaska’s Bristol Bay. (The mine will now go forward, though a single leak could devastate the world’s largest sockeye salmon population.)
    • Required the tracking of methane emissions (this decision was overturned by the Supreme Court).
    • Required data collection of emissions from oil and gas companies.
    • Monitored fracking.
    • Required companies to disclose which hazardous chemicals they’re storing.
    • Protected tributaries of sensitive bodies of water (even though the EPA’s analysis showed it would cost less to prevent the pollution than to allow it).
    • Set tighter emissions standards for trucks.
    • Banned the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos.
  • Repealed the Clean Power Plan, the Obama-era rules that imposed strict limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Propagated false or misleading information regarding the costs of renewable energy, need for removal of regulations on fossil fuel companies, and climate change.

pruitt lies

  • Removed the term ‘climate change’ from the agency’s website, and offices that were working on climate change have been closed, staff re-assigned.

And just last week, when nobody much was watching because of the holidays …

  • The EPA says a controversial herbicide is not harmful to humans. For the past few years, a debate has been raging over Monsanto’s use of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Round-Up, the top-selling weed killer sprayed on millions of acres of crops across the globe every year. The EPA came down clearly on Monsanto’s side, saying that glyphosate likely does not cause cancer. This contradicts a 2015 report by the World Health Organization (WHO). Score another for corporate profits over global health and well-being.

The U.S. produces the second largest amount of carbon emissions, second only to China, and we have the largest amount of carbon emissions per capita in the world. And yet, we are the only nation on the planet that is not part of the Paris Accord, the agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation and adaptation.

carbon-emissionsWhat arrogance on the part of the U.S. … we are in the process of destroying, not only our own environment, but that of the entire planet, for the effects of pollution are not contained to the country from which the pollutants originate.  I’m sure that if the rest of the world could, they would like to build a giant bubble over the U.S. to contain our emissions, and let us all choke slowly to death on the results of our corporate greed.

The news is not all bad, for there are some cities, states and even corporations that are moving forward with renewable energy projects.  But there are not nearly enough, and the corporate greed of Trump and his rich cohorts is a horror show in the making.

Can Scott Pruitt be removed as Director of the EPA?  It would take an act of Congress, literally, impeachment proceedings with the same criteria as impeaching the president: “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”  Does anything Pruitt has done thus far qualify as a high crime or misdemeanor?  Legally, it is very doubtful, and the bottom line is that it matters not, for the current, republican-controlled Congress, would not even consider it for a minute, for their pockets are lined by the same people who are lining Pruitt’s.  Yet another reason to choose wisely when you go to the polls in November.

Myron Ebell Chosen To Wreck EPA

epaIt is rather like putting avid wild game hunter Walter Palmer, the man who murdered Cecil the Lion a year ago, in charge of the lions at the Bronx Zoo.  Or like putting former KKK grand wizard David Duke in charge of security at an African-American church.  Or putting a hungry fox in charge of the henhouse.  One of Trump’s latest transition team picks, Myron Ebell, as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) makes just that much sense.  Ebell, as Chairman of the Cooler Heads Coalition, has long been an avid climate change denier!  His organization is “focused on dispelling the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific, and risk analysis”.  Rather like Trump himself when he declared that global warming was nothing more than a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.  Cooler Heads Coalition is funded and operated by Competitive Enterprise Institute,  of which Ebell is the Director.  Starting to get the picture?

myron.jpgMyron Ebell is not a scientist.  His background is in philosophy and public policy, not science.  In a 2005 interview, Ebell said that the UK’s Chief Scientist David King was “an alarmist with ridiculous views who knows nothing about climate change”.  In 2009, Ebell said “the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is an organized conspiracy dedicated to tricking the world into believing that global warming is a crisis that requires a drastic response.” He also claims that “Energy is fundamental to mobility, to comfort. When you start limiting people’s access to energy, you limit their ability to live the way they want, to make choices.” Interesting, isn’t it, that 97% of all climate scientists have concluded, after years of studies and research, that man-made climate change is real and destructive, yet Myron Ebell, who is not a scientist, knows more than all of the scientists combined? In a 2006 OpEd for Forbes, he is credited with saying, “Life in many places would become more pleasant. Instead of 20 below zero in January in Saskatoon, it might be only 10 below. And I don’t think too many people would complain if winters in Minneapolis became more like winters in Kansas City.

It is also interesting to note that on more than one occasion (I count at least three, but likely there have been more) Trump vowed to end or slash funding for the EPA.  Perhaps he has reversed course on this, but putting Ebell in charge is as good as eliminating the department all together.

On Tuesday, in a meeting with the New York Times, Thomas Friedman asked, “… can I ask a question? One of the issues that you actually were very careful not to speak about during the campaign, and haven’t spoken about yet, is one very near and dear to my heart, the whole issue of climate change, the Paris agreement, how you’ll approach it. You own some of the most beautiful links golf courses in the world …”  Trumps response was a vague one:

“I’m looking at it very closely, Tom. I’ll tell you what. I have an open mind to it. We’re going to look very carefully. It’s one issue that’s interesting because there are few things where there’s more division than climate change. You don’t tend to hear this, but there are people on the other side of that issue who are, think, don’t even … I have a very open mind. And I’m going to study a lot of the things that happened on it and we’re going to look at it very carefully. But I have an open mind. You know the hottest day ever was in 1890-something, 98. You know, you can make lots of cases for different views. I have a totally open mind. My uncle was for 35 years a professor at M.I.T. He was a great engineer, scientist. He was a great guy. And he was … a long time ago, he had feelings — this was a long time ago — he had feelings on this subject. It’s a very complex subject. I’m not sure anybody is ever going to really know. I know we have, they say they have science on one side but then they also have those horrible emails that were sent between the scientists. Where was that, in Geneva or wherever five years ago? Terrible. Where they got caught, you know, so you see that and you say, what’s this all about. I absolutely have an open mind. I will tell you this: Clean air is vitally important. Clean water, crystal clean water is vitally important. Safety is vitally important. And you know, you mentioned a lot of the courses. I have some great, great, very successful golf courses. I’ve received so many environmental awards for the way I’ve done, you know. I’ve done a tremendous amount of work where I’ve received tremendous numbers. Sometimes I’ll say I’m actually an environmentalist and people will smile in some cases and other people that know me understand that’s true. Open mind.”

Typical Trump-speak … he uttered a lot of words, but didn’t really say anything, did he? And of course he had to use the opportunity to toot his own horn … a sour note, at that. Then later that same day he announced his choice of radical climate change denier Myron Ebell.  Ebell’s radical anti-science views are not limited to climate change, but encompass other areas of environmental science.  For example, there is a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, that have been proven to contribute to the declining honeybee population in recent decades.  Yet, Ebell and CEI completely deny any harm to bees from the chemicals and reject any role for government action in protecting bees!  According to an article in Mother Jones,  “EPA scientists found the chemical so harmful to bee colonies, at the levels commonly found in cotton fields, that the agency “could potentially take action” to “restrict or limit the use” of the chemical by the end of this year.”  And predictably, Ebell is against the Endangered Species Act, saying that it unfairly infringes on land owner’s property rights.

scorchedSo what might we expect if Myron Ebell heads the EPA?  He and Trump have both vowed to back out of the Paris Accord, and Trump has promised to revitalize the coal industry.  It seems a certainty, then, that the Dakota Access Pipeline would be completed, and others would soon follow without regard to the effect on land and water conservation.  It is quite possible that bans on certain chemicals that harm the environment would be lifted.  Wildlife sanctuaries and refuges might well be turned to other uses, either agricultural or industrial.  Rather than protecting the environment, the EPA might actually be turned into an agency that intentionally damages the earth we live on for the financial gains of big corporations and convenience of the wealthy.

It is not only the U.S. that will suffer under the likes of Trump and Ebell, but every single square inch of the globe is endangered.  Every life form, whether in rivers, streams and oceans, or on land, whether in the plant or animal kingdom, is in danger of extinction if we take the paths that are suggested by the ideologies of Ebell and his organizations.  Donald Trump may think this is just another venture which he can manipulate, but this is the very core of life on earth that he is playing Russian roulette with.  There are numerous reasons our friends around the globe are concerned, to say the least, about the coming four years, but I venture to say that the threat of disregard for the well-being of our planet is the most pressing concern, and rightly so.  We need intelligent humanitarians in key positions, not idiots who think they know more than trained, educated scientists.