Trump and the Criminality of Climate Change

neighborhood-fire

If someone threw buckets of gasoline on the front and back doors and the windows of a home and lit it on fire in the early morning, those sleeping inside would likely perish, their escape routes blocked by the inferno. The arsonist would be hunted, hopefully caught, and face a long prison sentence if not the death penalty.  Consciously trapping people in life-threatening environments, taking their lives, these are the most serious crimes.

Those who deny the link between global warming and the burning of fossil fuels are lying. This link is not a matter of opinion; there are no legitimate opposing arguments because the science is overwhelming. The entire scientific community, people educated at the same top flight universities that teach us how to explore the planets and create cures for deadly diseases, these climate scientists are warning us that humankind’s ancient obsession with fire is the undeniable cause of global warming.

Due to human activity beginning with the start of the industrial revolution, atmospheric CO2 has climbed from 275 parts per million, a number largely unchanged for 800,000 years, to a dangerous 403 ppm today.  The last time that CO2 levels were this high, humans did not exist. And just as predicted by scientists over 50 years ago, Earth is warming dramatically.  The month of August, 2016, set the 16th straight monthly record for global average high temperatures and 2016 will have been the hottest year ever, again. In February of 2016, parts of the Arctic were more than 29 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than “normal” for February, bringing them on par with typical June temperatures. This train of back-to-back records stretching over 16 months is unprecedented in recorded history and signals a long-term, dangerous transition.

Now, every year shatters the previous year’s record for global average temperature, and each decade is hotter than the previous, with no end in sight. This is the “new normal”.  And this a disaster.  Among many, the results have been increased droughts, increased coastal flooding, record heatwaves, fastest-ever rates of glacier loss, record global loss of polar sea ice, and worldwide crop losses from drought and flooding.

Global warming has only just begun and left  unaddressed, will continue for centuries. We may in fact have entered a runaway state, where more warming melts more sea ice, causing the dark seas to absorb more heat and warming the planet further.  Warming is thawing the Earth’s arctic tundra regions, releasing more methane gas. Methane is roughly 80 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2, and will contribute to still more warming.  Extend this ramp largely unbroken for 25, 50, 100 years, and the result will be clear disaster.  Ongoing widespread loss of human life will be a certainty, due to unbearable heatwaves, crop losses, food shortages, sea level rise, and loss of fresh water.  And this disaster won’t be temporary. We are changing Earth’s climate fundamentally, creating a dangerous new Earth that is not remotely as hospitable as the one we’ve leaving behind.

President Obama has been the first president to take this threat seriously, but Trump has promised to demolish Obama’s energy policy. Trump plans to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, open more federal lands to oil and gas drilling and coal mining, slash existing regulations on fossil fuels, scrap proposed regulations on domestic drillers or “frackers”, kill the Clean Power Plan (which is President Obama’s plan to transition the nation to coal-free power plants), and eliminate or fatally hobble the Evironmental Protection Agency.  Trump has no environmental plan, other than to set the clock back to 1950 and give the fossil fuel industry free reign.

The deniers of human-caused climate change are engaged in a deeply cynical strategy to claim ignorance and state that more study needs to be done, all the while raking in billions in fossil fuels industry profits at the expense of humanity. The tobacco industry used this exact strategy to evade legal liability for decades, killing nearly half a million Americans every year, and that industry still kills millions worldwide while pocketing hefty profits. Big tobacco eventually paid out hundreds of billions of dollars to US states for their fraud, but with fossil fuels and global warming, the stakes are infinitely higher because we’re talking about the planet. People can chose to quit cigarettes or never smoke at all.  We can’t quit the planet.  There is no escape.

Like most Republican politicians, Trump says he doesn’t believe in human caused climate change.  He says it’s all a Chinese conspiracy to make the US less competitive.  As absurd as this sounds, for Republican deniers, believing or not believing is not even relevant to them because their only motivator is greed. It’s the “I want mine” mentality.  The point is, they don’t actually care. And because we all know what is at stake – the viability of Earth, the lives of many millions of people, the survival of countless plant and animal species –  the actions of the deniers are in fact, profoundly criminal.

Just like professional arsonists motivated only by money, the deniers –  the fossil fuel companies and their political conspirators including Trump, Trump’s likely new EPA director Myron Ebell, James Inhofe, and others – have soaked the windows and doors of this home we call Earth with gasoline, and they have lit the match. Humanity is trapped in their fire because we can’t quit the planet.  There is no escape.

The Consequences of Trump

To all people of color, to Latinos and African Americans, to the refugees fleeing war and persecution, to immigrants from around the world,

To Muslims and Jews, to those of the Baha’i faith, to Hindus and others unnamed,

To all women. To our wives, our daughters, our sisters and our mothers,

To the disabled, the elderly, the poor and disadvantaged,

To the ongoing and future victims of human rights violations and justice denied,

To Earth and those many future generations who will suffer profoundly as avoidable climate change unfolds and permanently overheats our planet.  To the millions of species lost,

I am sorry.  We failed.

Michael Simms: Why I’m With Her

Great piece by Michael Simms, he says it all. And democracy is not a once-every-four-years endeavor; we can work with Bernie and Hillary and Obama to see a more progressive future for our country. If we don’t step it up and drive our future, others will.

Vox Populi

As a supporter of Bernie Sanders, I was disappointed when he lost the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton. Bernie asked his supporters to help elect Clinton, so out of respect for him, I stepped up as a volunteer in the Hillary campaign even though I wasn’t excited about her. She seemed too much of an insider, an establishment figure, a resume builder, a functionary rather than a visionary. In recent months, however, as I’ve knocked on doors and called people during their dinner hour (sorry, folks!), watched her debate, and learned more about her history of public service, I’ve become convinced that her character and experience make her the most qualified candidate for the presidency in my lifetime. In her support for Civil Rights, Families, Economic Justice, and the Environment, both in her past actions in public office and in her stated positions as a presidential candidate, Hillary has shown…

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Women, Please Rescue America

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American women, I beseech you.  Many men in high places have made a giant mess of things, for decades. Today, the US political and judicial systems are crashing.  And the most basic measures of decency and dignity for women, and by easy extension, American society, are under attack.

Congress, controlled by Republicans and mostly men, is defunct.  This male-dominated Republican congress flatly refused to work with President Obama for eight years, and promises to do the same if Hillary Clinton is elected.  Congress is broken.

America’s courts are failing. This Republican congress has refused for several years to confirm any federal judges nominated by President Obama, leaving a record of 59 vacant judge positions in America’s courts.  This has created 36 judicial emergencies, with nearly 20,000 unheard court cases, many of them backlogged for years and with no resolution in sight. This is a record. The Republicans have refused to even consider President Obama’s nomination to the US Supreme Court, which is unprecedented, and they promise to boycott all nominations by Clinton if she is elected president, leaving the supreme court with only eight justices – evenly divided. Some Republican scholars are even advocating the end of the supreme court as an American institution.

Most importantly, this male-dominated Republican congress refuses to reject and disavow the debased, depraved, and even criminal sexual acts committed by Donald Trump.  This is a fundamental assault on the value and dignity of females as human beings, as people. Trump epitomizes the worst behavior in the male psyche: the domination, denigration, and sexual abuse of women.  Our jails are full of sexual predators, and Mr. Trump, by his own admissions, is in league with them. It is beyond the pale and utterly unacceptable that Mr. Trump is the Republican nominee for president, and it is flatly unacceptable that all Republican senators and representatives have not disavowed and rejected his candidacy.

This Republican party, for years and now epitomized by Donald Trump, has made it the norm to degrade and dehumanize one half of our society, and not just women, but teenagers and young girls as well.  Any female, regardless of age, is under attack.  We criticize Muslim nations for their abuse and degradation of women, yet Donald Trump and those who refuse to reject him, legitimize profoundly sexist and sociopathic attitudes.

America is suffering.  Our government, severely divided, is broken. Our legal system is failing. And our society, our social fabric, is under assault when we allow the denigration and dehumanization of our sisters, our mothers, our wives, and our daughters. Don’t misunderstand; this is not about family honor, not about devalued property. Women are equal members of our society in all regards, and their blatant denigration cannot be tolerated.  Enough.  Women, this nation truly needs your vote.  Your dignity and your conscience may be all that stand between us and a misogynistic and fascist abyss.

Trump’s War on Women: Republican Silence is Complicity

It is, without any doubt, a disgrace that Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president. Among many other reasons, no nominee in America’s history has shown so much blatant contempt for women and minorities.  The released audio/video and numerous other incidents reveal a profoundly narcissistic and debased man who takes joy in using his position of power to commit sexual assault, to objectify and degrade women, and to attack and intimidate those who resist. Through words and actions spanning decades, he has proven that he sees women primarily as objects to serve at his pleasure. Trump’s defense that his comments in the video were “locker room talk” is insulting. Such comments are debased, but perhaps remotely excusable for an immature teenager trying to impress his friends.  Trump was 59 years old at the time.

If Trump’s primary business is that of real estate developer, why would he be interested in owning beauty pageants?  From 1996 until last year, Trump owned the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants, and according to various reports by contestants, he made a habit of invading dressing rooms while female contestants were changing clothes. At a Miss Teen USA pageant,  Donald Trump barged in on naked and half-dressed contestants, some as young as 15. Tasha Dixon, Miss Arizona in 2001, told CBS 2 Los Angeles that Trump walked into the Miss USA pageant dressing room.  “Our first introduction to him was when we were at the dress rehearsal and half-naked changing into our bikinis,” Dixon said. “He just came strolling right in. There was no second to put a robe on or any sort of clothing or anything. Some girls were topless. Other girls were naked.”

The Trump campaign has denied these reports, but Trump himself confirmed them. In a 2006 interview with Howard Stern, Trump bragged about invading pageant dressing rooms: “I’ll tell you the funniest is that I’ll go backstage before a show and everyone’s getting dressed. No men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in, because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it. … ‘Is everyone OK?’ You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody OK?’ And you see these incredible-looking women, and so I sort of get away with things like that.”

Are these the words and actions of an American president?

As of this writing, my count shows that 16 Republican senators and 22 representatives have stated that they will not vote for Trump, and that many will vote for Hillary Clinton. Some have called for Trump to quit his campaign.  This is unprecedented in American history and reveals the disgust these Republicans hold for Trump’s candidacy. But that leaves 38 Republican senators and a stunning 224 Republican representatives who apparently have no problems with Trump’s behavior and still support him. Incredibly, many are still vocal supporters.  Following the video of Trump’s bragging about sexual assault, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama stated that Trump’s grabbing women by the genitals is not assault (even though the law is emphatic).  However, in a statement released the next day, Sessions agreed (perhaps after a conversation with his wife) that such contact is assault. However, this criminal behavior is apparently not enough for Sessions to drop his support for Donald Trump.

Throughout Trump’s campaign and his attacks on women we have barely heard a word from those 262 Republican representatives and senators in Congress who claim to represent the men and women of Texas, Arizona, Alabama, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

To you quiet-as-a-mouse Republicans representing these states, are we to conclude by your silence that you endorse Trump’s debased behavior?  Do you believe that such disgraceful, even criminal behavior is what our president should model to our own children? Do our mothers, wives, and daughters deserve to be so thoroughly disgraced in this way, or will you defend the  values you claim to hold?  Note that standing up against Trump’s misogyny after he ends his campaign, if that should happen, will be too late – you took the coward’s way out.  You were silent when it mattered most.

Ultimately, what is “conservatism” if it embraces behaviors that reduce half of the population, all females, to the status of disposable sex objects?  You silent Republican politicians, are you willing to assault the dignity of all women, simply in order to “win”?

A political party that supports Donald Trump, and a nation that elects such a man, is telling its women that they will be treated only as sex objects, to be used and discarded by men, and that this is okay.  Well, it isn’t okay. Donald Trump’s perverted, disgraceful morality cannot be legitimized as the new “normal.”  The nation’s conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, must come together and take a stand. Those who support Trump’s disgrace, openly or with their silent complicity, must be removed from office.

Nukes: The Best Toys for a Child Who Can’t be Satisfied

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I just returned from a trip to Italy to visit family and friends, and the topic of Donald Trump came up frequently. Many Italians are seriously frightened over what’s going on in this US election cycle. So am I.

Trump, unfortunately for himself and now all of us, is a mentally-afflicted man-child. Mental health professionals argue over what conditions create such a immature narcissist. Many say that childhood neglect and ensuing attachment disorders create such imbalanced and unhappy people. Far above all else, Trump is absolutely consumed with himself, with his image, and with his attainment of status and wealth. Trump has no policy-political recommendations because he’s never been interested in politics. Ergo, he clearly has absolutely no knowledge on this subject, no knowledge of domestic policies or foreign affairs, and seemingly no knowledge of how the American government actually works. He seems to think that as President and King Trump, he will waive his short-fingered hands, issue edicts, and problems will flee. All enemies will instantly become his allies. His claimed contributions to charities are not well-substantiated and usually come with strings attached. He has shown no interest in humanitarian efforts. His claimed business acumen isn’t supported by the facts – yet another Trump casino is closing and he has filed an astonishing six (6) business bankruptcies. Trump demanded that others release their tax returns, yet refuses to release his. The IRS is auditing him for possible evasion. His claims of great wealth, more than 10 billion dollars in net worth, are not supported by objective analysis of his debt-free holdings, and are apparently likely a third or less than his claim. His incredible sensitivity to his frequent claims of “vicious attacks” reflect the fragile self-image of a child who must be constantly reassured that he isn’t a “loser”, no, he is a winner with a really huge fingers, a third trophy wife, and daughters so beautiful that even he would date them if he could. This man with absolutely no past experience, education, or knowledge relevant to the job, this man who lies constantly about others and his own credentials, this xenophobic narcissist, bigot, and misogynist wants badly to be president because the badge is so shiny, and gosh, wouldn’t nukes make great toys? According to Joe Scarborough, Trump has repeatedly asked his foreign policy advisors why the US can’t use its nukes. God help us. Seriously. God help us and the world if this man-child is elected.

John Samuel Tieman: A Few Brief Words

Slowly the nation awakens to a problem with homicidally racist cops. Apparently it has to come to this.

Vox Populi

To My Friends In The N. R. A.
And Folks Reading This Essay In Starbucks

As I write, there’s more news about the shooting in Dallas. Which blends into the news of the shooting in Orlando. Which blurs into the news of the shooting from – where? The shooting at that church? The shooting at the mall?

There is a tragic sameness to it all. There’s a mass shooting. Then there’s outrage. Folks call for gun control. The N. R. A. blocks all consideration of all measures. Congress gives in, as do state and local politicians. Then there’s a mass shooting …

Can this cycle end? The simple answer is, “Yes.”

The National Rifle Association is by no means a monolith. It does give significant donations to key legislators. But the real political genius of the N. R. A. lies in its strategy, a strategy both simple and effective. Intransigence…

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