Sovereignty and the Environment

When will we stop trampling over everything and everyone in fealty to the God of Oil? Now we’re back to screwing the Native Americans.

I’ve had a hard time keeping up with the news.  It seems that bad news keeps coming as fast as I can read it.  Trying to decide what to write about is like a bad version of going into a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop – only there are WAY more than 31 flavors and each one wants to kill you.

I’m going to take a topic that combines several subjects.  Pipelines.  Specifically, the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) but this also goes for the Keystone XL pipeline.

If you look at their website, the pipeline folks will tell you that this is the safest, most economical way to transport the crude oil.  And they might be right – when comparing it to other methods of moving the oil.  However..  There are a few things they won’t tell you.

The question I ask in all this is – where are the 2nd Amendment ammosexuals?  These are the people like Ted Cruz who says the 2nd Amendment is the last bastion of defense against a rampaging government.  Where are you when “police” show up looking like they’re from the Army?  Where are you when cops start shooting at people praying while North Dakota introduces legislation legalizing vehicular manslaughter?  And while I’m at it – look at that last link,  People being shot at while PRAYING!  Where are the folks complaining about religious freedom being trampled on?

Fact is, because of railroads, we don’t need this pipeline.  And that’s assuming we have a need for the oil.  Remember the Keystone XL?  Remember Trump promising that he’ll put Americans first?  These pipelines are to take oil from North Dakota and Canada and get them to the Gulf (DAPL hooks up with other pipelines in Illinois) so they can sell overseas.  The argument about “energy independence” is bogus (thanks to the natural gas boom).  The real reason is for exporting oil – which was illegal until the law preventing it was rescinded in December 2016.

Sure, there are temporary jobs – but those will be gone when it’s built and there will be only 35 jobs for the Keystone XL pipeline and just 40 full time jobs for the DAPL despite Trump’s claim of 28,000.

Meanwhile, these pipeline would further endanger the Gulf of Mexico with more oil more risk.  But you don’t even have to go that far.  Remember earlier with the website that claimed how safe pipelines were?

By the time of this article in October 2016 there were 220 “significant” spills in the US.

We don’t need this.

Trumpistan and Immigration

From the very start of his campaign – literally, right after he descended the escalator to the gilded lobby of his eponymous building, being surrounded by actors paid to act like fans, Trump made clear what his priorities were when he announced his candidacy.

His now-famous announcement speech hit the same theme several times.  “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best.” and “They’re bringing drugs.  They’re bringing crime.  They’re rapists.  And some, I assume, are good people.”

It didn’t matter immigrants are less likely to commit crime than native-born Americans. The fact that, from 1990 to 2013, illegal immigrants rose from 3.5 million to 11.2 million yet violent crime rates dropped 48% nationwide.

Well, he certainly didn’t take too long to action.  On Friday, the President signed an executive order that had the following points:

  • Blocked Syrian refugee families indefinitely
  • “Temporarily” suspended immigration from 7 mostly Muslim countries
  • Christians and members of other minority religions would be given preference over Muslims.
  • Curiously, did not include Saudi Arabia (where most of the 9/11 hijackers came from), Egypt (very unstable), Lebanon (crawling with Hezbollah) or Turkey (in the aftermath of a coup).  Coincidentally, Trump has business interests in these countries.

This created chaos at airports that the administration tried to downplay saying that “only 109” people were detained and that the delays were caused by a Delta computer outage.

A short while after those stories broke, a federal judge blocked the order, saying that you can’t deport people who are legally here – like green-card holders.

We haven’t even gotten to the unconstitutional part.  You know, where it says “Congress shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion”.  This means that Trump’s favoritism towards Christians is illegal.

Now, if they got to that, I wonder what effect it might have because Trump seems not to care.  It seems the DHS in some airports doesn’t care and is detaining and removing people anyway.  Trump insists that it’s not a Muslim ban – but any cursory reading shows that Trump seems to be gaslighting again, trying to convince people that the sky is a color other than blue.

This all happened in the middle of what seemed like a screw-up.  The administration released a statement on “Remembrance Day” – honoring the Holocaust and failed to actually mention the Jews.  Was it a mistake?  Apparently not.  When asked about it, the administration doubled down.

As I write this, we’ve just had the shooting in a Quebec mosque where at least 5 were killed and many more injured.  Conservatives seized on the reports of the shooter yelling “Allahu akbar” (God is great).  Turns out that the guy is a white, ultra-right wing nationalist who loves Trump and hates immigrants.

So here we have Trump on immigration…

He proposes a wall that:

  • Won’t work.  Most illegals come here legally, driving through a border station or flying into an airport and simply overstay their visas.
  • Was supposed to be paid for by Mexico
  • Will now be paid for by Americans as Trump has requested funds from Congress
  • …but then would be paid for by a 20% import tax on Mexican goods..
  • …until people realized (in 10 seconds) that it would be American taxpayers paying that tax
  • …and it would fight drug smugglers by being 7 feet deep. (Because nobody digs a tunnel 8 feet deep)
  • Is proposed while Mexican immigration is at a 40-year-low.

He signs an executive order banning immigrants that is

  • Unconstitutional (religious preference)
  • Excluding countries where he has business interests
  • Excluding the actual countries where terrorists came from (overlaps with the above).
  • Ignoring the fact that, over 10 years, an average of 2 Americans are killed per year by Islamic jihadist immigrants, 5 by right-wing terrorists, 9 by all jihadists (including American jihadists), 21 by ARMED TODDLERS, 69 by lawnmowers, 737 by falling out of bed and 11,737 by being shot by another American.

I can’t make this stuff up…

The First Week in “Trumpland”

What a week it’s been!

As the 2016 campaigns went along, performing their roadshow antics all across the country, I felt a lot of frustration.  When the conventions were over, I thought the circus would ‘leave town’.  Of course it didn’t – it just shifted into high gear.

I increasingly needed to get my thoughts out on what I was seeing.  Every 4 years we say it can’t possibly get worse and every 4 years, it seems, we’re proven wrong.

It’s now been one week since Donald Trump was inaugurates as our 45th President.  I can’t even pick on something he’s done that I don’t like because there has been so much…  The circus may have ended it’s road show, but it’s put down roots and is being run form the Oval Office.

This is a summary of this past, crazy, hard-to-believe week…

Thursday, January 19

It started even before it started.  The night before his inauguration, Trump said he was going to cut funding for seventeen federal agencies.  The link takes you to a list of those agencies, what they do, and what they cost the average American.

Friday, January 20

Who knew the Big Story coming out of today would NOT be THAT we swore in a new President, but that the size of the crowd would be the issue?  The National Parks Service re-tweeted pictures comparing Trump’s crowd to Obama’s and they ended up being deleted with gag orders apparently being issued.  That might not have been so bad had it not been for Press Secretary Sean Spicer insisting that Trump’s inauguration was the most ‘seen’ ever – despite all the hard evidence to the contrary.  Spicer seemed to start his job off by doing his best Baghdad Bob impression.

Tucked away behind that noise were some more important items that have already been almost forgotten.  Trump’s inauguration speech said that he was going to be for American’s first and that power was returning to the people.  His first executive order, however, was to start targeting the ACA (Affordable Care Act – aka Obamacare) for elimination, therein taking away health insurance from up to 30 million people (between the mandates and the Medicare/Medicaid expansion).

His second act didn’t deviate from that path.  He cancelled a planned rate reduction in mortgage insurance on FHA mortgages that will affect some 750,000 homeowners, costing them more money each month.  It’s estimated that up to 40,000 buyers will now fail to qualify for their mortgages.

Saturday, January 21

Today was the Women’s March.  The crowds dwarfed those from the previous day’s inauguration.  One of my daughters made the trip from Philadelphia.  I was quite proud of her.  Trump, on the other hand, seemed a bit miffed as he sent Sean Spicer out to complain about media coverage.

Trump also went to Langley to give a self-congratulatory speech to the CIA (which he compared to Nazi Germany) and, just for good measure, brought his own people to applaud for him.  The actual people IN the CIA, however, might not feel like applauding.

Sunday, January 22

Sundays should be quiet, right?  Well, Trump’s senior counselor, Kelly Anne Conway, introduced us to the concept of “alternative facts”.  Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up.

Monday, January 23

Trump actually did something I liked.  He signed an executive order withdrawing us from the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership – a trade agreement that appeared to be a corporate sellout).  So that was something good, right?  Maybe the last couple of days were an aberration?

Not so fast…

He signed another executive order reinstating the ‘Mexico City’ rule which basically cuts funding to any foreign organization that so much as TALK about abortion.  This may be more Mike Pence talking than Donald Trump.

Another executive order instituted a federal hiring freeze.  …but hired his son-in-law.  Oh, and it freezes wages for federal employees as well.  …again.  This is the fourth or fifth freeze in my memory.

And, just for good measure, later in the day, he repeated his voter-fraud lie when he met with Republicans.  Who was it who coined the term about repeating a lie to make it seem like the truth? …called it “The Big Lie”

Umm..  How long ago was it when the Republicans were complaining about executive orders being ‘overreach’?

Tuesday, January 24

If you thought yesterday was bad, today would be even worse.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer doubled-down on the claim that Trump’s inauguration was the most-watched.  This, right after he claimed he would never knowingly lie.

Then word leaked out that Trump declared his inauguration as a “National Day of Patriotic Devotion”.  The mind just boggles at that.  But, then, this is the guy who redecorated the Oval Office in gold.  When I looked up information about that, I was rather surprised.  A pro-Trump website said the office was decorated with brand new curtains.  Shortly thereafter, TMZ discovered they were Clinton’s.  Me?  I think they look like Obama’s “Muslim Prayer Curtain” that turned out to be another bogus meme.

That wasn’t the only executive order he signed.  He signed five, altogether that covered clearing the way for progress on the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, making sure they’re built with American materials.  In addition, it appears that proper public review of infrastructure projects may be in danger with two orders signed – one to reduce the ‘burden’ of regulations and expedite energy and infrastructure projects , the other to cut environmental reviews and speed up approval of ‘High Priority” infrastructure projects.

It started to sound even more like 1984 when a net-neutrality foe was named FCC chairman,  the EPA was hit with a gag order and journalists got hit with felony charges for covering protests!

The ripples from Trump being in power continued to be felt – because it’s not just Trump, but what he inspires in others and how they now feel emboldened to act…  South Dakota’s GOP will declare a State of Emergency so as to repeal a voter-approved ethics bill, Minnesota’s House just passed a bill that allows insurance to skip covering common procedures – and look at the list – #1 is maternity benefits!  They can refuse to cover your pregnancy – and if they do cover it, they can refuse it if you’re unmarried!!!

Wednesday, January 25

By the end of this day, Slate seems to have had the same idea I have about trying to summarize events as they unfold in Trumpistan.  This article contains details on the following:

  • Trump calling for a major investigation into nonexistent voter fraud.
  • Trump directing the DHS to build ‘the wall’.
  • Trump will have us start publishing a weekly list of aliens who commit crimes.
  • A start to referring to human beings as “removable aliens” because of the creation of the “Office for Victims of Crimes Committed by Removable Aliens”
  • Trump is preparing a draft of “Auditing and Reducing U.S. Funding of International Organizations” – meaning cutting aid to refugees through the United Nations.
  • Trump signed an executive order specifying a “Moratorium on New Multilateral Treaties”.  In their mind, treaties are between two nations and that’s it.
  • Trump announced that refugees aren’t welcome – especially Muslims and woe be to any city that believes otherwise.
  • Trump plans to let a law lapse that allows illegal immigrants who were brought here as children to stay.  No “DREAM” for you.
  • Oh, and not for nothing, Trump signed an executive order authorizing torture and reopening CIA “black sites”.

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, how about this blast from the (not so distant) past?  It turns out that Reince Priebus, Kellyanne Conway, Jared Kushner, Sean Spicer and Steve Bannon are all using a private email server (rnchq.org).  This is the same organization that “lost” 22 million emails but got NO investigations from the House of Representatives.

We also learned that Lamar Smith (R-TX) said we should get our ‘unvarnished’ news from Trump himself.  This dovetails with Spicer’s “alternative facts” quite well.

President Trump also want to enlist local law enforcement for immigration duties.  Can anyone say “Your papers, please?”

…and, because, what’s a news day without government censorship, the White House directed the USDA and EPA to shut up.  All communications will now be vetted through the White House.

Thursday, January 26

We start off with a swath of senior management resigning en mass from the State Department.  It’s not like there’s any analog in the private sector form which you can draw upon to replace the experience that just took a hike.

Then we go on to the proposed 20% import duty on Mexican goods.  This is supposed to pay for the wall.  Then there’s some backpedaling because people start to notice that it would be AMERICANS paying the tax – just like how Trump asked Congress for tax money to build the wall…

But, most incredulous of all, Trump’s chief strategist, Steven Bannon (the guy from Breitbart) says the media should just ‘shut up and listen’.  I wonder how he would have reacted if Obama said that to Breitbart…

And, in a measure that should surprise nobody by now, we were downgraded from a ‘Full Democracy’ to a ‘Flawed Democracy’.  What with gerrymandering, a President who lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million and a House of Representatives having a party with a commanding lead that also got fewer votes – it’s no surprise…

….and that’s just the first week.

Hello, and, “Why am I here?”

So.  I started this.  Why did I do that?

Well, it boils down to one part frustration and several repeated parts of redundant Facebook posts.

The frustration is in seeing a lot of topics out there that I want to comment on because of just how unsettling a period of time we’re living in. I’ll make no secret of it, I did not vote for President Donald Trump.  This is going to be my vent for his actions that I disagree with.  I’m not going to limit it to the President, my frustration at the Republican Party has been growing for many, many years.  And it’s likely, if I run out of arguments against the conservatives (whom I used to be allied with) that I’ll pick on liberals as well.  It’s hard to tell conservatives to “listen to the scientists” on climate change and NOT say it to certain liberals who still think vaccines cause autism.

The repeated redundant part?  That’s from getting involved in the same or similar Facebook discussions over and over again.  I see something that demands a response and I go do some research to make sure I have the fact right.  I post the information and maybe some discussion happens.  Two weeks later, I see the same meme again and it starts all over again.

Now, I’ll have these pages as a permanent record of said research and I’ll be able to simply post a link.  It’ll be more efficient and just as effective (which is to say ‘not’).  I know what arguing on Facebook produces..  But I can’t just sit quietly and let the truth get stomped on constantly.

I’m planning on having my first “real” post this weekend.  The original plan was to do a summary of President Trump’s first week in office.  It’s only Wednesday, as I write this, but I already know that there’s more material than I can expect to cover.  I’m going to have to pick a “greatest hits” list of all the stuff I’ve been collecting.  That’s not to say it’s all bad – I’ll give the guy props if I agree with something.

I started out, in my first election, as a conservative.  Over the years, I’ve changed my views on many things as more information has become available to me.  Today’s Republican bears little resemblance to the Republican of 1980.  I’ve watched as that Party has changed and twisted in horrible ways over the last couple of decades.  I can’t just let my words evaporate.  I want someplace where my words can stand and represent.  So today I did that.  I made this space.

Now let’s see if I’m up to the task of keeping things going.