Friday, February 17, 2017

EPA and Environment Doomed? Remember Reagan and James Watt?

Senate Vote Puts Seasoned Foe of E.P.A. in Its Top Job

If you read nothing but this NY Times story, published today as its top story ( Senate Confirms Scott Pruitt as E.P.A. Head) , you will probably be pretty gloomy about the future of the Environmental Protection Agency and the future of our environment. Since we are part of the environment, you could be gloomy about the survival of humans as well.

But here are some other things to consider. As I pointed out when Trump first won the electoral college, the federal government does not have a monoply on environmental protection. The states, counties and local governments also enact and enforce environmental law.

No better example of this exists than California, which has far outstripped the federal government in enacting protections for the state's air and water and other environmental features. California stepped up to bat on environmental issues half a century ago and has stayed in the forefront of the game. As a result the state banished the plaguey smog attacks that smothered the skies of Southern California and then the San Francisco Bay Area.

I had watched as choking and blinding smog enshrouded the Los Angles basin beginning in the mid-1950s. Then I saw it envelop the Bay Area in the late 1960s. While the Bay Area had complacently sneered at smoggy LA, auto pollution, backyard burning, and industrial pollution had contaminated its own blue skies.

But the people and politicians of California fought back. My recollection is that they even went to the Supreme Court to ratify their claim that a state could enact more stringent air pollution standards than the federal government had adopted. But Supreme Court green light or not, California faced down the then most powerful lobbies in the nation: the mighty auto industry and the oil industry. It enacted and enforced regulations that rid the state of the killer smog. It did this in spite of the opposition of the antediluvians such as Governor Ronald Reagan, who — like Trump — could wear his ignorance as a proud badge, famously proclaiming that smog was actually produced by tule reeds and by gaseous expulsions from the rear ends of cows.

We can thank Reagan for actually cheering us up right now. When we look at what he unleashed against the environment when he was president, we know that things were bad back then but good people stopped the damage. He appointed the all-time worst Secretary of the Interior, a dedicated oil and gas man named James Watt. Wikipedia sums up well Watt's dedication to destroying our natural world:

"Environmental groups accused Watt of reducing funding for environmental programs, restructuring the department to decrease federal regulatory power, wanting to eliminate the Land and Water Conservation Fund which aimed at increasing the area of wildlife refuges and other protected land, easing regulations of oil and mining,directing the National Park Service to draft rules that would de-authorize congressionally authorized national parks, and recommending lease of wilderness and shore lands such as Santa Monica Bay to explore and develop oil and gas.
"Watt resisted accepting donation of private land to be used for conservation.He suggested that 80 million acres (320,000 km²) of undeveloped land in the United States all be opened for drilling and mining by 2000. The area leased to coal mining quintupled during his term as Secretary of the Interior. Watt boasted that he leased "a billion acres" (4 million km²) of coastal waters, even though only a small portion of that area would ever be drilled. Watt once stated, "We will mine more, drill more, cut more timber." James G. Watt - Wikipedia

His boss, Reagan was widely quoted  as saying, "If you've seen one redwood you've see them all." Apparently he actually said, "“A tree is a tree. How many more do you have to look at?” If You've Seen One Redwood, You've Seen Them All -- Not ... I consider this an equally Trumpian remark, demonstrating the speaker's profound ignorance.

Aha! you say, the people of California were able to protect their environment because California is a Democratic state. Not back then. And not reliably Democratic until recent years. Remember that other movie star governor, Arnold Schwartzenagger? When President George W. Bush wanted to hand over the country's wilderness areas to mining, drilling, and logging GOP Governor Arnold led a rebellion that defeated George W. Joining Arnold were the (then) GOP states of  Montana, New Mexico, Arizona, Virginia, North Carolina, Maine and South Carolina. (This story of the governors' rebellion is recounted by an old friend of mine, former Sierra Club president, Carl Pope at  If You've Seen One Redwood, You've Seen Them All -- Not ...)

Americans of both parties love their country, America the Beautiful. I think even Trump supporters, that sullen 35% of the electorate, cherish our mountains and rivers, clean air and clean skies. I believe there will be real limits on the destructive policies of Trump and his EPA appointment because the laws and regulations that protect our national treasures were not sprung from the hearts of bureaucrats that Trump demonizies. The laws and regulations are from the hearts and wishes of the American people. 

True, those who have lost jobs digging coal and drilling oil want those jobs back, but it isn't regulations and laws that killed those jobs. The market place did. Oil and coal are now becoming more expensive than alternative, renewal energy. Their day is done. Banks won't lend for the development of fossil fuels.

Yes, the Senate has approved Scott Pruitt,Trump's bad appointment to head the EPA, but James Watt got Senate approval in his day too. 

James Watt lasted only two years. 

So go sing a song to our beautiful country. How about "This land is your land, this land is my land." And don't let those who love money and hate our natural beauty steal your joy. 

This land is indeed our land, and it certainly isn't theirs!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Trump in Panic and His Aide Talks Nazi

Trump in a panic?

With falling poll numbers and a wave of adverse court decisions, Trump and his minions apparently feel panic. It was likely increased in recent days by the looming scandal of his National Security adviser having illegally discussed with the Russians the removal of sanctions placed on Russia by Obama as punishment for interfering in our presidential election.  (And no sooner had I typed that sentence than the culprit, Michael T. Flynn, resigned!)

Only in the context of Trump's possible panic does it make sense for his right-hand adviser Stephen Miller to be all over the Sunday talk shows blathering what are plainly dictatorship priniciples. As one Saturday night comedian said, "The only thing that could have made Miller sound more threatening was if he had been speaking in German." Watch the "Morning Joe" video thta has collected the Miller clips from the talk shows. Watch Joe Scarborough go nuts in reaction to Miller!  Joe Scarborough takes on Stephen Miller

Why this blatant Nazism? Miller was talking to Trump's ill-educated supporters who dote on the "strong man" who can sneer at the "Establishment". Miller's job here is to assure these gullible folks that Trump's big losses in the courts are meaningless. Which of course is a lie. Clearly Trump and his team are running scared. But not smart. What court would take them seriously after these anti-court tirades that betray total ignorance of the Constitution? With these tirades Trump and his minions have lost all credibility to argue their positions.

That being said, this is still alarming talk! Stephen Miller is Trump's right-hand man and has been writing his executive orders. From what he says in these clips, he is a Nazi! These clips scared the hell out of Joe Scarborough  and should scare you. WE ARE ALL IN BIG TROUBLE IF THIS "REGIME" CONTINUES! Miller is claiming dictator powers for Trump, asserting he is above judicial review! That's not just crazy and totally unconstitutional. It's Nazi talk! What's next? The Reichstag Fire as an excuse to cancel all our constitutional rights and institute martial law? For God's sake, I grew up with this kind of voice and this scenario and these words. How can people not have learned from the first time around with the Nazis! At least that was in Germany, but this is in THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!

Trump in a panic? 

I'm inclined to panic soon too. At the same time, I now believe more than ever that Trump's impeachment is on its way.  The media has its teeth into the Russia-Trump pre-election contacts, as does the CIA/FBI. And the Democrats are asking pointed questions. Pointing at what, you ask? At whether Trump acted in collusion with the Russians in trying to undermine our democratic election.

That would be an impeachable offense of the mightiest magnitude.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Trump Careless With Nuclear Codes and Security Meeting

This is so crazy that I am just going to post it as I did on my Facebook page. Frankly, I don't know whether to laugh or cry.  But we now all know which guy is carrying the nuclear war stuff. I'll bet Putin now likes Trump more than ever.

So here it is, from my Facebook page and that of Richard DeGazio, the man who came to dinner at Trump's Florida club:

Friday, February 10, 2017

How Do They Hate Thee, Mr. Trump? Let Me Count the Ways.

How do they hate thee, Mr. Trump? Let me count the ways.

Or at least count the individuals and organizations bashing you. They are a remarkable collection.

54% of Americans who told Gallup this week that they don't approve of you and your presidency
Pope Francis
Six Rockettes
Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, your own nominee to the Supreme Court
Cosmopolitan Magazine
Six players for the Patriots football team
GOP Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham
2 million women marchers
15 states and the District of Columbia
250 law professors
Elton John
Federal Ninth District Court of Appeals
2000 veterans protesting the Lakota Pipeline
1000s of Lakotan and other Native Americans protesting the Lakota pipeline
Millions opposing the Keystone Pipeline
Stockholders in Nordstrom's
GOP Senator Ken Sasse of Nebraska (Yes, GOP from Nebraska!)
The American Academy of Science
Sarah Silverman and Meryl Streep
Senate GOP boss Mitch McConnell (well, sometimes)
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsberg (who ought to put a sock in it)
The Columbia School of Journalism on behalf of all journalists
TJ Maxx
The biggest biggies of Silicon Valley:  98 corporations!
The CEO of Uber
The farmers of the "food bowl" of California's Great Central Valley
Lots of other agribusiness farmers
The CEO of GE
The British Parliament
Dick Cheney
The woman torn from her family yesterday and sent to Mexico after living here 21 years
Her family
All who dread being torn from their families and flung across the border
All who worry about The Wall destroying the Big Bend national reserve, one of the last pristine wild           places in America.
Millions of hunters and fishermen who fear your handing over national wilderness lands to the states for development.

In addition, the most respected Democrat in the Senate, Patrick Leahy of Vermont,  this past week used the word "impeachment" in the same sentence as the word "Trump". Further, the head of the Democrats in the House has asked on TV what hold the Russians have over you, Mr. Trump, such that you kowtow to Putin. Up until now the Democrats have been very quiet so as to let you sink your own boat without Democrats inadvertently stirring up any sympathy for you. Now they see how the walls are tumbling down all around you, and they are getting set to pounce.

Looking at the list of those who have bashed you, one wonders who still likes you? Maybe the mere 77,000 voters in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan who made you president even though you lost the national popular vote by 3,000,000?

Oh, I know who still likes you! Alec Baldwin and all the other comedians! That's who!

And the company that sells that white make-up you wear around your eyes to hide your age.

P.S. The white stuff ain't working!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

How America Is Already Great and So Is The World!

Smile with these school children in Madagascar. We all have some great good news to smile about!
Donald Trump being president does not mean the world is a dark place, as the astonishing article cited at the conclusion of this post will dramatically show. The dark place lives only in the hearts and perception of his supporters. Sure, many older white men in America are disgruntled by changes that are shoving them out of their dominance. So are some younger men who wanted to inherit that dominance by race and gender and repressive laws. Their world has indeed turned bleak. Same for racists who have seen—oh, horrors!—a black man in the White House for two terms. They were joined in their voting by lockstep GOP who always vote GOP and by rather sick women who lust after bully men like Trump. (And there are such women.)

Supposedly they will now help Donald Trump "Make America Great Again."

That effort is unneeded. America is already great. In the ways that really count! That count beyond it being the wealthiest, militarily the strongest, the most diverse, with high longevity, and with a culture beloved everywhere in everything from jazz to rock to movies to faded jeans.

America is great far beyond these materialistic measurements, though they helped finance its most important greatness, as described below. The New York Times article cited at the conclusion of this posting tells of a stupendous worldwide reduction in poverty, illiteracy and suffering from disease. The greatest humanitarian achievement ever, an achievement undreamed of!  And much of it is due to America.

Yes, America was helped by other countries in this work, but statistics elsewhere show the USA out-contributed all other countries in the worldwide fight against disease, poverty, and illiteracy.

The ending of so much disease and suffering also owes a lot to the work of medical researchers and other scientists. Americans have been a large part of that cadre. One of them is a former student of mine who has created the primary building block for a whole new family of life-saving medicines that can be produced for a tiny fraction of what Big Pharma charges for similar medicines. His chief satisfaction is that "now the poor all over the world can afford the drugs that will save their lives." One young man therefore will save millions of lives. (Trump and Paul Ryan want to cut the research budget that funds his work. We won't let that happen, will we?)

America has also done a lot to provide the stability in the world necessary for good things to occur. This stability is a new phenomenon in history. Even the vaunted Pax Romana that lasted 200 years only covered a small fraction of the globe. America has provided a largely stable world since August, 1945. That's 80 years of international peace. Yes, individual countries have fought within their borders or occasionally across their borders, but for 72 years we haven't seen whole continents in flames and swathes of human progress lost to bombs.

Thus I welcome you to awareness of our brave new world, this great achievement by the good-hearted people everywhere who wrought these near-miracles. For the good news here is not just the end of so much suffering, but this undeniable evidence of how much goodness there has been in the world all these decades that looked so bleak so often. Goodness can and does win out. I can die happy now, assured of that which I have always believed: many people are very good.  And I go knowing also that my fellow humans have escaped much suffering. What a going-away present!

One final thought on this: please keep in mind those who died so that these great things could happen. I can't forget the eye care team of Americans killed on an Afghan mountainside by Muslim fundamentalists. Or the medical team slaughtered in Pakistan for giving polio vaccines. Yes, they died. But they did not die in vain. Their mission of mercy has prevailed everywhere.

Think of this Times article when Trumpism would dim your bright spirit. And fight his efforts to scuttle the funding and structures that made all this possible.

Read and rejoice!  Why 2017 May Be the Best Year Ever - The New York Times

It's a wonderful life! It's a wonderful world!

Keep it that way!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Calm Down! The American People Are Still Here and So Are the Other Good Folks of this World!

The really stunning thing about the Trump mess is that the chaos and media hysteria and fear are generated by a guy who is NOT a winner of the election, did NOT win a majority of the American people, and has the lowest approval number ever of any president at this point. His ideas and actions do not have majority approval. So let's stop moaning that the American people have become something awful! See e.g. the bemoaning by the normally on-point and insightful David Brooks, New York Times columnist, excellent writer and moderate Republican: Brooks: A Return to Greatness

My dear David, Trump's counter-myth ain't winning nothing! He's sliding rapidly downhill in public perception! He lost 8 points in his approval rating this last week to now be at 43% and his disapproval rate has shot up to 50%. Go home and have a drink, David. You need one!

Someone thanked me for this posting when I did it in short form on FaceBook. She said she was glad I was reminding people that "there is still hope."

Of course there's stll hope. We the American people and those like us and even better than us all round the world are the real hope.


Seventy years ago we Danes and Norwegians and English and Russians and French and Phillipinos and Chinese and Africans and Dutch and Polish and Burmese and Indians and Navajo and Jews and Americans joined many others of lots of countries and beat the hell out of a man from hell and his legions from hell. We beat the Nazi war machine!  And with our other hand—at the very same time—we beat the militaristic Japanese regime. Then we turned around and with our brothers and sisters from everywhere built the UN and NATO and all the other organizations and trade agreements that have made the world a stable and safe place in which we have now, in concert with other nations, virtually wiped out poverty, illiteracy, and many diseases according to the latest studies. And we did that while simultaneously keeping the Soviet Union from swallowing us all up.

Hope is still alive? You betcha! 

Sure, Trump will create messes here in the USA. and the courts and the Congress and the people will then take care of that. (If the Congress doesn't do its job, the American voters will do a job on Congress!)

Trump is creating havoc abroad with his wild statements. But the other nations aren't babies. They can take care of keeping Iran from making nuclear weapons and preventing North Korea from being really dumb. They can also take care of fighting global warming.

Get this, Americans! This isn't your world.  You have served it well, despite some colossal boo-boos. You have served it so well that you created the stability for other nations to take on a terrific amount of the heavy-lifting. But the world belongs to everybody and they are helping take care of this world. Together we people of the planet can hold things together in spite of Trump. He has twitter and 35% of the American voters. We have everything else.

Mary Tyler Moore's theme song says it nicely, though with a slight change of pronoun: "We're gonna make it after all." 

Yes, we can. Si, se puedes. We shall indeed overcome. The arc of history still bends upwards. We still have a dream. 

And as Teddy Kennedy said. "The dream shall never die."

We are still here. We are the hope of the world because we are the world.

Now let's drink to that! And I am not buying the world a Coke!