While distracted by Trump, tweets, and shiny objects, the real danger lies in the shadows.
Created for "The Bard's Hall Contest" but continued for my own sanity.
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|June 29, 2018 Day 13.
Sorry about my absence. No, I haven’t given up but just needed a sanity break. 😁 It seems that every day some new erosion of America takes place. The one that disappointed me most was the Supreme Courts upholding of the Trump Muslim Ban. It felt as if they were asked one question but answered another:
Q: Can you ban travel based on religion?
A: The President has the right to ban travel.
I know we’ve heard (until our ears are bleeding) that the real crimes will show up when we “follow the money.” It seems to have worked that way with Manafort and Cohen and … the list goes on.
Here’s an interesting tidbit that I picked up on while scanning the web today. Please note: I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong. I’m just saying that if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck… 😂 🤣
The What: Justice Anthony Kennedy's son, Justin, worked at Deutsche Bank for more than a decade, helping loan Trump more than $1 billion at a time when other banks wouldn't. Since 1998, Deutsche has helped loan Trump at least $2.5 billion, of which at least $130 million is still owed to the bank. In 2017, Deutsche Bank AG agreed to pay $425 million to New York's banking regulator over a money laundering scheme that helped Russian investors move $10 billion out of Russia. Trump later waived the fines for the bank after Robert Mueller issued a subpoena to Deutsche for the banking records of people affiliated with him. Following Trump's first address to Congress in February 2017, he stopped to tell Justice Kennedy: "Say hello to your boy. Special guy."
The Impact: Who knows – but, the most conservative rulings by the Supreme Court this term have all been 5 – 4 with Kennedy acting as the swing vote – including:
Upholding the travel ban
Public-sector employees who don’t belong to unions can’t be forced to pay union contract-negotiating fees even though they benefit.
and my personal favorite:
In Masterpiece Cakeshop, the Justices tried to decide if Colorado's public accommodations law violated the First Amendment religious rights of a cake maker who declined to make a cake for a same-sex marriage event. In its ruling, Kennedy said the baker, Jack Phillips, was “entitled to a neutral and respectful consideration of his claims in all the circumstances of the case,” but the statements of some commission officials cast doubts on the neutrality of their decision.
So, why didn’t Trump’s statements, tweets, campaign rally cries, and public interviews cast doubt on whether or not his travel ban was religiously motivated?
I’ll leave you with a final thought: “The Supreme Court needs jurists, not politicians.” ~ Timothy Noah
Now that Justice Kennedy as announced his departure, I guess it’s up to Trump to decide. I cringe at the thought.
|June 25, 2018 Day 12.
Most of us are at least familiar, in passing, with those three words. It’s how the preamble to the Constitution begins. Take a moment and read the opening words:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Every President – from Washington to Trump – took an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Evidently, some had their fingers crossed.
The What: Since taking office, it seems like Trump has been trying to circumvent his oath of office. Trump has convincingly demonstrated his contempt, abhorrence and lack of respect for the Constitution and the rule of law, as well as for the office of president. That’s clear from his repeated lying to the public and press; his continuing to receive profits and benefits from foreign governments in violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause; his attacking the integrity of federal judges and encouraging police misconduct; his disparaging the First Amendment’s protections of a free press—the list goes on and on.
In a recent memo, his lawyers claim - “The President not only has unfettered statutory and Constitutional authority to terminate the FBI Director, he also has Constitutional authority to direct the Justice Department to open or close an investigation, and, of course, the power to pardon any person before, during, or after an investigation and/or conviction,” they write, “Put simply, the Constitution leaves no question that the President has exclusive authority over the ultimate conduct and disposition of all criminal investigations and over those executive branch officials responsible for conducting those investigations.”
Where is Trump getting these un-American ideas? Donald Trump has apparently been informed by his lawyers, and his own ego, that he is something of a monarch and it’s to our detriment – we, the people – that he continues to ignore the very document that he swore to protect.
The Impact: Let’s look at where Trumps actions are leading by looking at the oath he took:
Establish Justice. “The President not only has unfettered statutory and Constitutional authority to terminate the FBI Director, he also has Constitutional authority to direct the Justice Department to open or close an investigation, and, of course, the power to pardon any person before, during, or after an investigation and/or conviction,” they write, “Put simply, the Constitution leaves no question that the President has exclusive authority over the ultimate conduct and disposition of all criminal investigations and over those executive branch officials responsible for conducting those investigations.” In other words, Trump claims that justice is whatever Trump says it is.
Insure Domestic Tranquility. From out and out racism to petty name calling of opponents, Trump continues to play divisive politics. The nation survives amid division and dysfunction now, when we're at peace, more or less. But if America faced a serious threat abroad, say from a nuclear-armed North Korea, these domestic fissures could be paralyzing.
Provide for the Common Defense. President Donald Trump has barely acknowledged that Russians meddled in the 2016 presidential election, and now it looks like he’s doing nothing to prevent Moscow from interfering again. Adm. Michael Rogers, who leads US Cyber Command, told lawmakers on Tuesday that Trump has yet to direct him to strike Russia’s cyber operations where they start. That means Russian President Vladimir Putin — who directed the campaign to disrupt the last US presidential election — has yet to see any serious repercussions for his country’s actions.
How long will it be before we hear:
Calling it “maybe the worst deal ever,” Donald J. Trump said on Wednesday that he is considering pulling the United States out of the United States Constitution. “I’ve seen a lot of bad deals in my life, but this Constitution is a total mess,” he said. “We need to tear it up and start over.” (Shamelessly lifted from "The Borowitz Report, a satire piece by Andy Borowitz) 😂
I’ll leave you with a final thought: “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
I guess it’s up to us.
|June 24, 2018 Day 11.
I bet you thought this was going to be about Melania’s poor choice in jackets as she headed out to visit the children her husband jailed. Wait! I don’t want to be accused of being a fake news liberal. Replace “jailed” with “allowed to vacation in tender care facilities.”
As I went through the mail this morning, I saw an envelope that said, “Sign up for TrumpCare. TrumpCare? What the hell is that? Never heard of it.
Now, I’ll admit, I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m over 65 (Medicare) and retired military (Tricare) so I don’t have to do a lot of worrying about healthcare. I’m pretty much covered. That said, I’m pretty sure I would have heard about Congress getting its act together and passing something to replace the He-Whose-Name-Cannot-Be-Said healthcare act.
The What: “TrumpCare” describes health care reform under Donald Trump. It is essentially referring to all healthcare changes made (or being made) under President Trump. This includes:
• The January 2017 Executive Order that takes some wind out of the individual mandate’s sails,
• The April 2017 Regulations that allow for narrow networks and shorter open enrollment periods,
• The October 2017 Executive Order on Association Health Plans, Short-Term Coverage, and HRAs,
• The October 2017 cuts to Cost Sharing Reduction assistance payments to insurers who provide cost-sharing reduction assistance those with lower incomes,
• The October 2017 changes to the employer mandate to cover birth control that make it so religious employers don’t have to cover contraceptives,
• The November 2017 changes to Medicaid expansion that make it so states can implement work requirements for Medicaid.
• Most recently, Trump's unveiled the "American Patients First" plan which aims to lower prescription drug prices but, as ususal, it had no details - only broad goals.
In other words, it’s Obamacare leftovers given that a repeal and replace plan did not pass and instead, Trump has been reshaping the healthcare system using executive orders and changes done via HHS.
How is it that the government and insurance conglomerates can actually call this healthcare?
The Impact: It should come as no surprise that more than 95% of healthcare groups that have commented on President Trump’s effort to weaken Obama-era health insurance rules criticized or outright opposed the proposals, according to an L.A.Times review of thousands of official comment letters filed with federal agencies.
The result of TrumpCare will be tens of millions without affordable health coverage, or with “junk plans” in some states.
On the positive side, it could reduce costs for those who aren’t priced out of the market. Large employers and those who don’t rely on assistance, or don’t get much assistance, could see cheaper plans even if they would not be as comprehensive as ACA plans. Of course, offering the skinnier plans means that the risk pools for plans that do provide the most robust coverage guaranteed by Obamacare are going to be sicker and older. Without healthier, younger people, premiums will rise, and the people most in need of care will be strapped with high costs or unable to access care at all.
I’ll leave you with a final thought: “The U.S. has the most dysfunctional healthcare system in the industrial world, has about twice the per capita costs, and some of the worst outcomes. It's also the only privatized system.” ~ Noam Chomsky
So, it seems …
|June 23, 2018 Day 10.
I can’t be the only one who has noticed that, beyond the seemingly endless “alternative facts” that the President likes to spout, there is a real clarity deficit when it comes to understanding where the President stands on… just about everything!
"The president is a guy who likes to ... entertain a lot of different ideas," Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said, testing the limits of understatement.
No shit, Sherlock. 😨 We look for leadership. We get endless flip-flops instead.
The What: Nobody in the White House (or anywhere else it seems) reliably speaks on Trump's behalf — maybe not even Trump himself. The president is the biggest flip-flopper in American politics today. A Trump policy pronouncement is like Kansas weather: If you don't like it, wait 15 minutes. The flip is almost surely coming. Just a few examples to add clarity:
After repeatedly saying Congress needs to solve the immigration problem, Trump questioned the "purpose" of two House immigration bills that he previously said he supported "1,000 percent." Trump tweeted that both bills don't matter, because they will likely fail in the Senate where Republicans hold 51 seats, but need 60 votes. Hours later, the House voted down its conservative immigration bill and then postponed a vote on a Republican compromise measure. President Donald Trump on Friday called on lawmakers to delay dealing with the critical issue until after the midterm elections — while accusing Democrats of concocting politically motivated "phony stories of sadness and grief" on the border.
President Trump’s abruptly announced that he will suspend U.S. military drills in South Korea, catching the Pentagon and the Seoul government flat-footed. Trump's reason? "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,"
… and then renewed sanctions on North Korea, citing an "extraordinary threat" from its nuclear weapons - just 10 days after saying there was no risk from Pyongyang.
The Impact: Leadership matters. Consistency matters. The future of the Dreamers depends on Trump's DACA policy. The future of farmers and workers depend on his trade policy. The future of anyone relying on insurance depends on his health-care ideas. To meander from position to position without signaling any real understanding of the issues or – more importantly - of the consequences is to be cavalier with the very lives of millions of people, both inside the U.S. and beyond our borders.
I’ll leave you with a final thought: "Sorry losers and haters, but my IQ is one of the highest - and you all know it! Please don't feel so stupid or insecure, it's not your fault." ~ Donald J. Trump
I guess he's pretty consistent about some things. 😂 🤣
|June 22, 2018 Day 9.
OK – it’s Friday. I thought I’d add a little humor today. For those old enough, you’ll recognize today's entry title is taken from numerous Monty Python skits. It was usually followed by something ridiculous. Who am I to break with tradition? 😀
All day I’ve been bombarded with “breaking news” about the U.S. border immigration crisis. As I sat watching, other than Melania’s sartorial choices for her visit to Texas, I didn’t really hear anything new until I happened to see a fleeting headline that read: “SCOTT PRUITT HAS SPENT A TOTAL OF $4.6 MILLION ON SECURITY, NEW DISCLOSURES SHOW — INCLUDING $1,500 ON “TACTICAL PANTS.” I’m sorry but this seemed too funny to pass up.
The What: Now, to be honest, this story was published in The Intercept, a journal I have never heard of. The Intercept is an online news publication dedicated to what it describes as "adversarial journalism". From what I gather, it’s a mini Wikileaks wannabe. That said, I saw that it had been also reported by several reputable sources. Evidently, they had (and showed) a copy of records released under the Freedom of Information Act that listed expenditures totaling $288,610 on a range of security-related items. The EPA, according to three expense line items for April, spent a total of $2,749.62 on “tactical pants” and “tactical polos.” I will admit, it left me scratching my head about what they could be.
After much searching I found a statement issued by the EPA’s Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics, and Training:
“These are routine expenditures for our Criminal Investigative Division (CID) and Protective Security Detail (PSD) agents to have proper attire for search warrants, arrests, disaster responses and training. This attire is not used for protection work.”
I think they could have saved a lot of money by buying over the counter “I’m With Stupid” Tee-shirts.
The Impact: Other than wasting our money? Probably not much. However, this is another symptom of the damage that’s being done to our country. Remember Candidate Trumps two big promises?
I'll choose the best people for my administration.
Trump campaigned against the big banks, then chose a former Goldman Sachs partner, Steven Mnuchin, to run his Treasury Department. He pledged to save Medicare and Social Security, then chose Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), who has advocated sweeping revisions in Medicare and Medicaid, to run Health and Human Services. Trump has placed the burdens of working people at the top of his agenda, yet chose as Labor secretary an executive, Andrew Puzder, who talked in an interview about the advantages of replacing human workers with machines because they are "always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case." And that brings us to Scott Pruitt. Trump named Pruitt who has repeatedly expressed skepticism about the scientific consensus on climate change and ran for office in Oklahoma to “reverse our course and embrace fiscal conservative principles.”
Trump pledged to “drain the swamp in Washington, D.C.”
He then tweeted: “I will Make Our Government Honest Again — believe me. But first, I’m going to have to #DrainTheSwamp.”
I guess he forgot to mention that he would replace the swamp with a cesspool.
I’ll leave you with a final thought: “It is a popular delusion that the government wastes vast amounts of money through inefficiency and sloth. Enormous effort and elaborate planning are required to waste this much money.” ~ P. J. O'Rourke
So, it seems …
|June 21, 2018 Day 8.
Elephant in the room is an English-language metaphorical idiom for an obvious problem or risk that no one wants to discuss. It is based on the idea/thought that something as conspicuous as an elephant can appear to be overlooked in codified social interactions, and that the sociology/psychology of repression also operates on the macro scale.
So, what is this obvious issue? Trump lies. He doesn’t just bend, twist, or overlook the truth; he creates fiction and then repeats and repeats and repeats it until large segments of the American people believe it. All presidents lie. Richard Nixon said he was not a crook, yet he orchestrated the most shamelessly crooked act in the modern presidency. Ronald Reagan said he wasn’t aware of the Iran-Contra deal; there’s evidence he was. Bill Clinton said he did not have sex with that woman; he did, or close enough.
But Trump has taken lying to a whole new level. The sheer frequency, spontaneity and seeming irrelevance of his lies have no precedent.
The What: Even the harshest critics of Donald Trump have to concede that the President excels at one thing -- lying. And he does so far more than any predecessor ever dared to. As the Washington Post recently quantified, Trump has served up over 3,000 lies or misleading statements since taking office, which comes out to a dizzying rate of 6.5 every single day.
What brought this to mind today is the recent border crisis – taking innocent children from their parents. I watched the President say:
• It’s the law (passed by the Democrats). No – it was a policy he enacted.
• The Democrats won’t let him fix it. No – the Republicans control the House and Senate.
• Only Congress can fix it. No. The Congress has no control over his policies.
• It’s required by the Bible. No. Not according to most religious scholars.
• Isn’t he wonderful for fixing it? No, he reversed himself because of bad press.
The Impact: What does this mean for the country—and for the Americans on the receiving end of Trump’s constantly twisting version of reality? For decades, researchers have been wrestling with the nature of falsehood: How does it arise? How does it affect our brains? Can we choose to combat it? The answers aren’t encouraging for those who worry about the national impact of a reign of untruth over the next four, or eight, years. Lies are exhausting to fight, pernicious in their effects and, perhaps worst of all, almost impossible to correct if their content resonates strongly enough with people’s sense of themselves, which Trump’s clearly do.
The distressing reality is that our sense of truth is far more fragile than we would like to think it is—especially in the political arena, and especially when that sense of truth is twisted by a figure in power. As the 19th-century Scottish philosopher, Alexander Bain put it, “The great master fallacy of the human mind is believing too much.” False beliefs, once established, are incredibly tricky to correct.
There is a reason the president lies so frequently and outrageously: It works! A leader who lies constantly creates a new landscape, and a citizenry whose sense of reality may end up swaying far more than they think possible.
I’ll leave you with a final thought: “A liar begins with making falsehood appear like truth, and ends with making truth itself appear like falsehood.” ~ William Shenstone
|June 20, 2018 Day 7.
I’ve heard it said that education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. Education is not specifically addressed in the Constitution, but a historical precedent of central government involvement does exist. Previous Presidents all recognized this and made education a priority during their first years in office.
Historically, the Department of Education has worked to make sure that students are prepared for an increasingly global economy by providing supplemental funds to support students in low-income schools, students with disabilities, and other students who are historically underserved; distributing and monitoring trillions of dollars in funds to help students pursue higher education; and collecting and disseminating data about the nation’s schools. The department also protects students by ensuring that factors such as race, income, language, sexual orientation, and disability are not barriers to high-quality schooling.
The What: President Trump and Secretary DeVos have proven again and again that they have little regard for the nation’s public education system and the role of the Department of Education in protecting vulnerable students and supporting and improving public schools. Here are a few highlights:
• Despite his own lack of knowledge about education, Trump selected Betsy DeVos, who has arguably the least amount of experience in public education of any former education secretary. DeVos has not attended or worked in public schools, and her children have never attended public schools.
• In their first budget proposal, President Trump and Secretary DeVos slashed 13.6 percent, or $9.2 billion, of the Department of Education’s funding. This funding supports essential programs that train, support, and pay teachers and provide after-school programs for low-income children and families, among other things.
• In addition to massive cuts, President Trump and Secretary DeVos also proposed using $250 million to create a federally funded, nationwide school voucher program. Years of research have shown that private school vouchers are not an effective or equitable way to improve the nation’s schools.
• Secretary DeVos has since rejected the Obama administration’s position that nondiscrimination laws require schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice, rolled back protections for sexual assault victims, and scrapped nearly 600 guidance documents, including more than 70 pertaining to the rights of students with disabilities.
The Impact: Supporting and protecting the nation’s students should be a priority of every president and secretary of education. This administration’s actions, however, clearly demonstrate that it is willing to sacrifice critical resources for the nation’s most vulnerable students to push an ideologically driven agenda. This intentional erosion of the Department of Education’s role is a deliberate attack on U.S. public schools and critical student protections. Smaller budgets, moving public funds to private schools, and withdrawing necessary protections can only be seen as a failure to protect our children and the future of America.
I’ll leave you with a final thought: “Education is not a tool for development - individual, community and the nation. It is the foundation for our future. It is empowerment to make choices and emboldens the youth to chase their dreams.” ~ Nita Ambani
|June 19, 2018. Day 6.
We – in the United States – generally believe in the “rule of law.” The doctrine of the rule of law dictates that government must be conducted according to law. There are some essential elements which are indicative of the rule of law:
• Absolute supremacy of regular law as opposed to the influence of arbitrary power;
• Equality before the law;
So, what exactly is “law?” We all accept that the highest law in the United States is the U.S. Constitution which gives us our “unalienable rights.” Beyond that, the law is “a body of rules of conduct of binding legal force and effect, prescribed, recognized, and enforced by controlling authority.”
Most of us think that means that Congress writes the laws that govern us and the President signs them. Now I know – there are state laws, county laws, city laws but I’m talking about the big stuff; Federal laws generally involve matters that concern the entire country.
Not entirely true! There is the law and then there’s the enforcement of law.
The What: President Trump and Attorney General Jeﬀ Sessions have already left a signiﬁcant mark on the Justice Department. They have used short memoranda or subtle changes in enforcement strategy to quietly undo much of President Barack Obama’s criminal justice reform legacy. In its place, they have built a more draconian vision of law enforcement, centered around immigration. While many of these changes occurred without drawing public scrutiny, consequences have already begun to materialize in areas such as immigration enforcement. Some of the lesser-known changes include:
• Directed More Aggressive Federal Prosecutions - Federal prosecutors were encouraged to partner with state and local law enforcement for more aggressive prosecutions. A.G. Sessions pushed for an increase in the use of mandatory minimums was necessary to address rising violent crime even though research shows that overly punitive sentences have done little to reduce crime. He rescinded a series of memos that guided Justice Department policy on marijuana. Possessing marijuana is a federal crime but in 2013, then Deputy Attorney General James Cole issued a directive (called “the Cole Memo”) stating that federal prosecutors may decide not to prosecute marijuana oﬀenses if such actions comply with state law, do not involve violence, do not fund the trade of more serious drugs, and do not otherwise implicate federal priorities..
• Resumed the Use of Private Prisons. - In February 2017, Sessions repealed an Obama-era directive that would have wound down the Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) reliance on incarcerating prisoners in privately-run facilities.
• Decreased Federal Oversight of Police - “It is not the responsibility of the federal government to manage non-federal law enforcement agencies.” Instead, “local control and local accountability are necessary for eﬀective policing.” Sessions also issued an order in July promoting an expansion of asset forfeiture, allowing state law enforcement to work with the federal government to forfeit seized property even before arrest or conviction.
The Imact: Although our level of crime is comparable to that of other stable, internally secure, industrialized nations, the U.S. has an incarceration rate that far exceeds every other country. Over the next three years, these shifts could cause the federal prison population to begin increasing again, reversing what small progress had been made to reduce federal over-incarceration. The growth in the U.S. prison population can be more closely attributed to ideological policy choices than actual crime rates. The record also shows that our country’s experiment with mass incarceration has not managed to significantly enhance public safety, but instead has consistently and disproportionately stunted the social and economic well-being of poor communities and communities of color for generations.
Further, the administration’s words and deeds on criminal justice could disrupt bipartisan eﬀorts to build a fairer, more eﬀective justice system at the state and local levels. We are now watching a high-stakes struggle being played out inside the Trump administration, between those who believe in the rule of law and those who advocate the law of the ruler.
On the side committed to the notion that we are a nation of laws and not men, you have Attorney General Jeff Sessions (to some extent), Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
On the side of those who believe the Justice Department can be used as the president’s praetorian prosecutors to punish political foes are Trump and his White House enablers, aided by certain House Republicans and right-wing media lackeys.
Hey! Don’t we have a say in this? Not as long as we’re kept in the dark about what’s happening. Keep poking in the shadows! As Justice Brandies said, “The most important political office is that of the private citizen.”
I leave you with a final thought: “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
|June 18, 2018. Day 5
Vladimir Lenin said, “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” No - 😂 – I’m not making the Trump/Russia connection here. I’m talking about how you go about changing a society’s views on everything from what is right and wrong to science. How is this done? Bit by bit. First, you start by deliberately refusing to acknowledge long-held facts as a matter of policy. Take science, for instance.
The What: A new report finds that in the first year of the Trump administration, U.S. government websites have been systematically altered to cut mentions of climate change. The report, published by the nonprofit Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI), says that several government agencies—notably the EPA—have removed or reduced their web content about climate change. Since Trump's inauguration, the group has monitored thousands of government web pages for changes or deletions. In some instances, "climate change" is replaced with the vaguer words "sustainability" or "resiliency." In others, some climate change web pages are taken down entirely.
One of the more subtle changes I’ve seen is U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency striking the words “climate change” and associated verbiage from its strategic plan, on the heels of one of the most expensive years of natural disasters in modern U.S. history. The plan says that one of the agency’s major strategic goals is to “ready the nation for catastrophic disasters.” FEMA does not elaborate on the causes of “rising natural hazard risk,” which used to include human-caused climate change.
The Impact: Two recent studies found that the record rainfall from Hurricane Harvey — which cost roughly $125 billion — got a 15-percent boost thanks to climate change.
More importantly, Scott Pruitt, the EPA administrator, has proclaimed, “The science that we use is going to be transparent. It’s going to be reproducible.” Since “climate change” doesn’t meet his definition –
• FY 2019 budget and addendum, the Trump administration has proposed sweeping rollbacks to U.S. programs designed to study and mitigate the effects of climate change, as well as cuts to research on renewable energy.
• The EPA budget suggests eliminating the environmental agency's climate-change research program, which currently costs the agency $16 million per year. In addition, the EPA has proposed axing several voluntary emissions-reductions programs and STAR, which funds environmental research and graduate student fellowships.
• In a legal memo, the Trump EPA has dropped “once in, always in” (OIAI), policy that aimed to lock in reductions of hazardous air pollution from industrial sources. This action will actually increase exposure to hazardous air pollution—especially among vulnerable populations, who live near major industrial polluters. “They’re really going to be killing people,” said the former environmental justice head at EPA.
The list goes on… and on... while the Earth that we’re creating for our kids, grandkids, and generations beyond will suffer.
I’ll leave you with a final thought: “Lies are a cooperative act. Think about it. A lie has no power whatsoever by its mere utterance. Its power emerges when someone else agrees to believe the lie.” ~ Pamela Meyer
|June 17, 2018. Day 4.
I think by now even the most antisocial hermits have heard about the number of mass shootings that have swept the United States. Now, not to get too technical, but a "mass shooting" is defined by the federal government as an incident in which at least four victims (not including the shooter) must be killed. I happen to think even one victim is too many.
Whenever we hear about one, most of us think, "That guy (or girl) must be nuts!" You may not be wrong.
The What: Soon after taking office, President Donald Trump signed a measure nixing a regulation aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of some severely mentally ill people. The original rule was part of a series of efforts taken by the Obama administration to try and curb gun violence after other efforts failed to advance in Congress.
The Impact: The rule would have required the Social Security Administration to disclose information quarterly to the national gun background check system about certain people with mental illness. While the list of eligible mental disorders is long -- ranging from anxiety to eating disorders to schizophrenia -- those who would have been reported by the agency had to meet two main criteria:
a) They were receiving full disability benefits because of a mental illness and couldn't work and
b) they were unable to manage their own benefits, thus needing the help of a third party to do so.
According to a report by the Office of the Inspector General at the Social Security Administration, 81,000 disability awardees would have met the criteria.
They now can buy guns if they so desire... or worse, be used to purchase guns for others.
But that's not all. While you were sleeping, a few other "under the radar" gun control changes have been made including this one that caught my eye: Trump made it easier for “Fugitives” to buy guns. It's illegal to sell guns to a “fugitive from justice” i.e. anyone with an outstanding arrest warrant. Trump's justice department clarified that a "fugitive" only applied to those who fled across state lines to avoid prosecution. 500,000 names were removed from the no-buy list. If you think about it, that means half-a-million felons who weren't smart enough to run away can now buy guns. .
I'll leave you with a final thought: Are you ready for this? There have been 101 mass shootings including 18 school shootings in the U.S. in 2018 (as of May). 😵 Maybe we really are nuts... but WTF, we can still buy a gun.
Oh, and Happy Father's Day!