Trump and the Criminality of Climate Change

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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.

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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.

Republicans, Embrace your Inner Child

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Yes, Republicans, embrace your Inner Child: Donald.  Mr. Trump speaks your inner truth, however Hitleresque and vile it sounds. Speaker of the House Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Reince Priebus and many other Republicans are in near-panic over who their cuckoo’s nest base has crowned as the Republican nominee, but not because they disagree with Trump’s hatred of immigrants, women, African Americans, Latinos, Muslims the gay community, etc., etc.  No, Trump’s attitudes perfectly reflect the decades of tireless Republican sabotaging of Democratic efforts to enable the poor, students, women, minorities and the great middleclass to advance themselves and keep from falling ever farther behind. Trump’s values mirror the Republican Party’s obsession of spoon-feeding the rich with more tax breaks, loopholes, pervasive deregulation, weakened labor laws, etc., etc. However, the problem Republicans are having with Trump is that he spews these “values” way too loudly.  He draws too much attention to the hate in their hate machine. Every Republican politician knows they’re supposed to bloviate about patriotism and the Bible, so called “clean coal”, the great climate conspiracy, the magic of trickle-down economics, and the righteousness of endless war. As much as possible for a band of rich and entitled white bigots, all that revulsion for people not like them is supposed to be kept on the down low, visible only in legislation that Americans never read and those lobbyist-drafted riders snuck into bills at 1:00 am.

Trump is like the child in Sunday church who happily shouts the same profanity his parents used the night before, and then shrieks in joy at the response.  It’s not fair to blame the child, he doesn’t know what he’s saying, but Trump certainly does.  Trump and his political success to date is a creation of the Republican Party. That party, with its propaganda network of Fox News, iHeart Radio, et al, has embraced every hate group, white supremacists, gun fanatics, misogynists, the militia movement, separatists, etc., and this collection of haters is their base, with Trump as their king.  Thankfully, they don’t represent the majority of thinking Americans, not by a long shot.

Trump reveals to the world what the Republican political machine is truly all about.  Against Ryan’s repeated pleas, he has opened the party’s kimono wide and the nation and America’s closest allies are suffering profound revulsion. Republican politicians long ago abandoned the majority of Americans in favor of national and international corporations and the wealthiest 1%, but to stay in power, they happily allied themselves with extremists who blindly vote against their own interests because they cannot resist the hatred the party spews.  To those moderate Independents and Republicans who are finally discovering the truth, we on the left welcome you.  Come to the light.

To Ryan, McConnell, Priebus, and other Republican leaders, you have a serious quandary on your hands, don’t you?  Do you embrace and support your child, Trump, perhaps the most unqualified and malevolent candidate in history, all in an effort to defeat Hillary?  You probably won’t succeed, and in doing so, you also risk losing both the House and the Senate.  Or do you turn your back on Trump and infuriate your precious “base”, the very people who nominated him?  You made this bed, and you surely deserve to sleep in it.  Meanwhile, your child, Trump, will keep being Trump.