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Posts Tagged ‘ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION’

AMERICAN COWARDICE IN TIMES OF PERIL

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on October 3, 2019 at 12:24 am

“One man with courage,” said frontier general Andrew Jackson, “makes a majority.”

Yet many “heroes” come out of the woodwork only after the danger is safely past.

On September 25, 2019, GOP consultant Mike Murphy said that a Republican senator had told him the majority of Republican senators “would vote to impeach” President Donald Trump if they could do so anonymously.

“One Republican senator told me if it was a secret vote, 30 Republican senators would vote to impeach Trump,” he claimed during an interview on MSNBC.

Murphy—who has advised Republican politicians such as Mitt Romney, John McCain and Jeb Bush—implied that the GOP lawmakers fear that voting against Trump could harm them politically. 

Yes, a shining example of true moral courage at its finest—and just when it’s most needed: “If we just didn’t have to risk our skins, we’d be glad to do the right thing.” 

Image result for images of donald trump on Twitter

Donald Trump

Throughout Trump’s nearly three years in office, Republicans have remained silent or vigorously supported him as he:

  • Repeatedly and viciously attacked the nation’s free press for daring to report his growing list of crimes and disasters, calling it “the enemy of the American people.”
  • Publicly siding with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin against American Intelligence agencies (FBI, CIA, National Security Agency) which unanimously agreed that Russia had subverted  the 2016 Presidential election,
  • Firing FBI Director James Comey for investigating that subversion.  
  • Allowing predatory corporations to subvert Federal regulatory protections for consumers and the environment.
  • Shutting down the Federal Government for more than a month on December 22, 2018, because Democrats refused to fund his “border wall” between the United States and Mexico.  
  • Attempting to extort a “favor” from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky: Threatening to withhold military aid unless Zelensky agreed to slander Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic Presidential candidate Joseph Biden.

“I was never courageous,” the Russian poet, Yevgeney Yevtushenko, wrote in his famous poem, “Conversation With an American Writer.” “I simply felt it unbecoming to stoop to the cowardice of my colleagues.”

For Republicans “stooping to the cowardice” of their colleagues has long been a recipe for political survival.

Yet another Republican—Wisconsin Senator Joseph R. McCarthy—terrorized the nation from 1950 to 1954, accusing anyone who disagreed with him of being a Communist, and leaving only ruined lives in his wake.

Joseph R. McCarthy

Among those civilians and government officials he slandered as Communists were:

  • President Harry S. Truman
  • President Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow
  • Secretary of State George C. Marshall
  • Columnist Drew Pearson

Finally, in 1954, McCarthy overreached himself and accused the U.S. Army of being a hotbed of Communist traitors. Joseph Welch, counsel for the Army, destroyed McCarthy’s credibility in a now-famous retort:

“Senator, may we not drop this?….You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

Later that year, the Senate censured McCarthy, and he rapidly declined in power and health.

Senatorial colleagues who had courted his support now left the Senate when he rose to speak. Reporters who had once fawned on him for his latest sensational slander now ignored him.

But cowardice isn’t confined to politicians.

Fast-forward to July 12, 2012—and the release of former FBI Director Louie Freeh’s report on serial pedophile Jerry Sandusky. As the assistant football coach at Penn State University (PSU), he had used the football facilities to sexually attack numerous young boys.

Jerry Sandusky

But Sandusky was regarded as more than a second-banana. He received Assistant Coach of the Year awards in 1986 and 1999, and authored several books about his coaching experiences.

In 1977, Sandusky founded The Second Mile, a non-profit charity serving underprivileged, at-risk youth.

“Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State,” Freeh stated.

College football is a $2.6 billion-a-year business. And Penn State is one of its premiere brands, with revenue of $70 million in 2010.

PSU’s seven-month internal investigation, headed by Freeh, revealed:

  • Joe Paterno, head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions, was aware of a 1998 criminal investigation of Sandusky.
  • So were president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz.
  • In 2001, then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary reported to Paterno that he’d seen Sandusky attacking a boy in the shower.
  • Paterno, Spanier, Curley and Schultz then conspired to cover up for Sandusky.
  • The rapes of these boys occurred in the Lasch Building—where Paterno had his office.
  • A janitor who had witnessed a rape in 2000 said he had feared losing his job if he told anyone about it. “It would be like going against the President of the United States,” Freeh said at a press conference.

In 2011, Sandusky was arrested and charged with sexually abusing young boys over a 15-year period.  On June 22, 2012, he was convicted on 45 of the 48 charges. He will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

On the day the Freeh report was released, Nike—a longtime sponsor for Penn State—announced that it would remove Paterno’s name from the child care center at its world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.

DONALD TRUMP AS HOWARD BEALE

In Bureaucracy, Entertainment, History, Politics, Social commentary on September 23, 2019 at 12:04 am

Donald Trump has been compared to Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Gaius Caligula. But perhaps his counterpart lies not in history but in fiction. 

Specifically, the fictional news anchor Howard Beale in Network, the 1976 satire written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet. It starred Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Robert Duvall Peter Finch and Beatrice Straight.

Network (1976 poster).png

Howard Beale (Finch) the longtime anchor of the UBS Evening News, is about to be fired because of declining ratings. 

So he announces on live television that he will commit suicide on next Tuesday’s broadcast.

UBS fires him, but then agrees to let Beale appear one more time to leave with dignity.

But once Beale is back on the air, he launches into a rant that contains the most famous—and most often-quoted—line in the film:

“I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter….

“We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat….

“So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!'”

Network12.jpg

Peter Finch as Howard Beale in Network

Beale is clearly losing it. But his outburst causes the newscast’s ratings to spike. Instead of pulling him off the air, the top brass of UBS decide to exploit Beale’s antics.

Soon he’s hosting a new program called The Howard Beale Show, where he’s billed as “the mad prophet of the airwaves.” Ultimately, the show becomes the most highly rated program on television.

But then Beale’s ratings slide as audiences find his sermons on the dehumanization of society depressing.

To rid themselves of Beale and boost their season-opener ratings, the network’s top executives hire a band of terrorists called the Ecumenical Liberation Army to assassinate Beale—on the air!

Forty years after Network, Right-wing voters sent “reality show” host and real estate mogul Donald Trump to the White House. 

Related image

Donald Trump

Republicans have reveled in his antics and enthusiastically supported his most heinous acts, which have included:

  • Repeatedly and viciously attacking the nation’s free press for daring to report his growing list of crimes and disasters, calling it “the enemy of the American people.”
  • Repeatedly “hinting” that he wants to be “President-for-Life.”  
  • Allowing predatory corporations to subvert Federal regulatory protections for consumers and the environment. 
  • Repeatedly and viciously attacking American Intelligence agencies—such as the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency—for unanimously agreeing that Russia interfered with the 2016 Presidential election.
  • Shutting down the Federal Government for more than a month on December 22, 2018, because Democrats refused to fund his “border wall” between the United States and Mexico.
  • Pressuring  Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to provide “dirt” on Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic Presidential candidate Joseph Biden—and threatening to withhold military aid if Zelensky refused.

The greed-obsessed honchos of the fictional UBS Network believed they could parley Howard Beale’s madness into greater profits.

Similarly, power-obsessed Republicans in the House and Senate believe they can parley Donald Trump’s tyrannical and unstable nature into lifetime tenure for themselves.

They have silently watched—or given their enthusiastic support—as he has attacked one cherished American institution after another:

  • A free press
  • An incorruptible Justice Department
  • An independent judiciary.

Yet, like the executives at UBS, Congressional Republicans may soon be forced to turn on their most poisonous creation.

Right-wing Fox News Network gave its enthusiastic support to Trump during the 2016 Presidential race. And it has continued to do so throughout his almost three-year Presidency.

But on September 21, its website reported the following:

“Fifty-nine percent of voters are extremely interested in the 2020 presidential election. That’s a number typically only seen right before an election.

“In addition, more Democrats (65 percent) than Republicans (60 percent) are extremely interested in the election and more Democrats (69 percent) than Republicans (63 percent) are extremely motivated about voting in 2020.  That helps Democratic candidates top President Donald Trump in potential head-to-head matchups.”

And in a September 22 story, Fox News declared: “Many voters are frustrated with how the federal government is working and a growing number are nervous about the economy….

“Fifty-one percent say the economy is in only fair or poor shape.

“His job ratings on every other issue tested are underwater: national security (45 approve-48 disapprove), immigration (42-54), international trade (38-53), foreign policy (36-54), guns (35-56), health care (34-56), and Afghanistan (31-49).

“Currently, 45 percent approve of the overall job the president’s doing, while 54 percent disapprove.

“About two-thirds (64 percent) think many people — if not nearly all people — in government are corrupt, and almost half (46 percent) say the Trump administration is more corrupt than previous ones.”

Republicans may soon be forced to face the following dilemma:

  1. Can I hold onto my power—and privileges—by supporting Trump?  Or: 
  2. Can I hold onto my power—and privileges—by deserting him?

This is how Republicans define morality today.

DONALD TRUMP AND THE OOBLECK

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Politics, Social commentary on June 26, 2017 at 12:01 am

Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) published over 60 children’s books, which were often filled with imaginative characters and rhyme.

Among his most famous books were Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.

Honored in his lifetime (1904-1991) for the joy he brought to countless children, Dr. Seuss may well prove one of the unsung prophets of our environmentally-threatened age.

Image result for images of dr. seuss

Dr. Seuss

In 1949, he penned Bartholomew and the Oobleck, the story of a young page who must rescue his kingdom from a terrifying, man-made substance called Oobleck.

The story is quickly told:

Derwin, the King of Didd, announces he’s bored with sunshine, rain, fog and snow. He wants a new kind of weather.

So he calls in his black magicians and gives them the order. The magicians assure him they can create it.

“What will you call it?” asks the king.

“We’ll call it Oobleck,” says one of the magicians.

“What will it be like?” asks King Didd.

“We don’t know, Sire,” the magician replies. “We’ve never created Oobleck before.”

The next morning, Oobleck–a greenish, glue-like substance—starts raining.

The king orders Bartholomew, the royal page, to tell the Bell Ringer that today will be a holiday. But the bell doesn’t ring—because it’s filled with Oobleck.

Image result for Images of "Bartholomew and the Oobleck

Bartholomew warns the Royal Trumpeter about the Oobleck, but the trumpet gets stopped up with the goo. 

The Captain of the Guards thinks the Oobleck is pretty and sees no danger in it—until he eats some.  Instantly, his mouth is glued shut.

The Oobleck rain intensifies. The falling blobs—now as big as buckets full of broccoli—now break into the palace, immobilizing the servants and guards.

At the climax of the story, Bartholomew confronts King Derwin for giving such a rash order: “If you can’t do anything else,” says Bartholomew, “at least you can say you’re sorry.”

King Derwin refuses, and Bartholomew says, “If you can look at all the horror you’ve caused and not say you’re sorry, you’re no sort of king at all.”

In real-life, such a king would have instantly ordered Bartholomew’s execution. But this is a children’s story.

So, overcome with guilt, King Derwin utters the magic words: “You’re right, this is all my fault, and I am sorry.”

Suddenly the Oobleck stops raining and the sun melts away the rest.

With life returning to normal, King Derwin mounts the bell tower and rings the bell. He proclaims a holiday dedicated not to Oobleck, but to rain, sun, fog, and snow, the four elements of Nature—of which Man is but a part.

* * * * *

Flash forward to the following Donald Trump tweets:

November 6, 2012: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” 

December 6, 2013: “Ice storm rolls from Texas to Tennessee – I’m in Los Angeles and it’s freezing. Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!” 

January 1, 2014: “This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps, and our GW scientists are stuck in ice.”

On May 5, 2016, as a Presidential candidate, Trump pointed to signs being waved at a rally in Charleston, South Carolina:in the crowd: “I see over here: ‘Trump digs coal,’ That’s true. I do.”

Donald Trump

Upon becoming President, Trump picked Scott Pruitt, a leading climate change denier, as director of the Environmental Protection Agency: “So no, I would not agree that [human activity] it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,”Pruitt said on CNBS’s program, “Squawk Box”

On March 16, 2017, the Trump administration released a budget proposal to eliminate $100 million in funding for the EPA’s climate work, including scientific research.

On March 28, 2017, Trump ordered his administration to rewrite the Clean Power Plan.  His objective: To gut former President Barack Obama’s landmark restrictions on power plant emissions.  

On June 1, 2017, Trump announced that he would withdraw the United States from the Paris climate-change agreement deal.

There are forces in Nature far more powerful than anything Man and his puny strength can defy—or harness. And we invoke the wrath of those forces at our own peril.”

In the world of children’s stories, it’s possible for a king to undo the terrible damage he’s unleashed by finding the courage to say: “I’m sorry.”

In real-life, tyrants almost never say “I’m sorry,” no matter how enormous their mistakes and/or crimes.

From 1936 to 1938, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin slaughtered the cream of his own Army and Air Force. When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, Stalin blamed his remaining generals for the massive defeats inflicted by the Wehrmacht.

And as Soviet forces finally closed on Berlin in April, 1945, and Adolf Hitler prepared to commit suicide in his underground bunker, he blamed the German people for losing the war he had started.

Saying “I’m sorry” cannot reverse decades of rampant environmental abuse. To believe that it can is as ridiculous as believing that self-righteous tyrants will ever take responsibility for their own crimes and follies.

NIXON IN 2012

In History, Politics on July 30, 2012 at 8:56 am

The ghost of Richard Nixon wants to be President again.

And it is about to be nominated–again–by the Republican party.

For those who didn’t live through 1968, or those who’ve forgotten what it was like, here’s a brief summary:

  • America was mired in Vietnam, with more than 500,000 troops fighting or dying to prop up a corrupt regime.
  • Antiwar demonstrations shut down college campuses throughout the nation.
  • Civil rights activist Martin Luther King and Senator Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated.
  • Nationwide racial riots broke out in the wake of King’s murder–including in Washington, D.C.
  • The Democratic Convention was marred by a brutal crackdown by Chicago police on antiwar protesters.

And offering himself as the country’s savior: Richard M. Nixon, the Republican nominee for President.

But he was careful to limit his appearances to carefully-screened “test audiences”–making it look, in his TV ads, as though he was facing up to tough questions.

And continuing his longstanding feud against the press, Nixon shut out reporters from the inner workings of his campaign.

Above all, Nixon promised a solution to Vietnam.  He repeatedly claimed that he had “a plan” to end the war “with peace and honor.”  At times he would touch his suit pocket–as though he had a copy of The Plan right there.

But, he added, he couldn’t share that plan until after he became President.  After all, the North Vietnamese would be listening in with the American people.

So the nation–by the narrowest of margins–elected Nixon.  And four more years of bitter, senseless war followed.

So here it is 2012, and Nixon’s spirit is once again running for President.

Like Nixon, Mitt Romney:

  • Has given interviews only in controlled settings–in his case, almost entirely to right-wing Fox News Network.
  • Has promised to “restore American greatness”–but has refused to say publicly which government programs he would cut.
  • Has refused to say which tax laws he would change–despite the fact that, as a multimillionaire with offshore tax havens, he stands to gain by such changes.
  • Has refused to fully answer reporters’ questions about his financial background–such as refusing to release more than two years’ tax returns.

Romney’s penchant for secrecy was most recently demonstrated during his visit to Israel.  He barred reporters from a fundraiser at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel and refused to say why.

Romney’s traveling press secretary Rick Gorka, asked to comment, simply said, “Closed press, closed press, closed press,” as he walked down the aisle of the candidate’s campaign plane during the flight from London to Tel Aviv.

It’s hard to imagine a more blatant example of arrogant disrespect for freedom of the press–and the right of Americans to learn the truth about their would-be leaders.  Unless you cite Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.

And it offers a dramatic–and useful–insight into the arrogance and secrecy Americans can expect from Romney should he become President.

Planning to raise campaign money while in Israel, Romney was willing to tell his wealthy American supporters abroad what he would not tell voters at home.

Among these is Sheldon Adelson, an international casino magnate, who’s donated millions to a group–Restore Our Future–backing Romney.

By preying on the gambling habits of millions, he has amassed a fortune estimated by Forbes at $24.9 billion.  This makes Adelson the eighth richest person in the United States.

Donors at the fundraising event–which was expected to raise more than $1 million–were asked to contribute $50,000 or to raise $100,000.

In fact, Romney has been far more candid with his private donors about what he intends to do as President than he has in his public appearances.

At a fundraiser this spring in Florida, he outlined how he might cut government and which deductions he might eliminate as part of his tax plan.  The event was overheard by reporters standing on a public sidewalk.

This harkens back to the administration of George W. Bush–when Vice President Dick Cheney invited oil company lobbyists to rewrite “environmental protection” regulations.

Naturally, the workings of Cheney’s “energy task force” were classified as secret from both the press and public.

In April, 2010, an explosion on a BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico sent millions of gallons of oil pouring into the Pacific ocean.  It was only then that Americans began to learn the true costs of allowing greed-fueled corporations to “protect” the fragile environment.

Similarly, Romney expects Americans to wholeheartedly trust him to create jobs for millions–while his own experience has been in creating only millions of dollars for himself and other wealthy investors.

Meanwhile, he clearly refuses to trust Americans generally with his plans for “restoring American greatness.”

There is a time-tested recipe for determining when a public figure has forfeited trust: It’s when he refuses to answer hard, specific questions.

There can be times–such as in war–when a public official is justified in telling less than the whole truth.

But, short of such an extreme occasion, the rule stands: Don’t trust anyone who won’t give candid answers to candid questions.

BP AND THE OILBLECK

In Bureaucracy, Politics, Social commentary on May 29, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) published over 60 children’s books, which were often filled with imaginative characters and rhyme. Among his most famous books were Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.

Honored in his lifetime (1904-1991) for the joy he brought to countless children, Dr. Seuss may well prove one of the unsung prophets of our environmentally-threatened age.

In 1949, he penned Bartholomew and the Oobleck, the story of a young page who must rescue his kingdom from a terrifying, man-made substance called Oobleck.

The story is quickly told: Derwin, the King of Didd, announces he’s bored with sunshine, rain, fog and snow.  He wants a new kind of weather.

So he calls in his black magicians and gives them the order.  The magicians assure him they can create it.

“What will you call it?” asks the king.

“We’ll call it Oobleck,” says one of the magicians.

“What will it be like?” asks King Didd.

“We don’t know, Sire,” the magician replies.  “We’ve never created Ooleck before.”

The next morning, Oobleck–a greenish, glue-like substnace–starts raining.

The king orders Bartholomew, the royal page, to tell the Bell Ringer that today will be a holiday.  But the bell doesn’t ring because it’s filled with Oobleck.

Bartholomew warns the Royal Trumpeter about the Oobleck, but the trumpet gets stopped up with the goo.

The Captain of the Guards thinks the Oobleck is pretty and sees no danger in it–until he eats some.  Instantly, his mouth is glued shut.

The Oobleck rain intensifies.  The falling blobs–now as big as buckets full of brocolli–now break into the palace, immobilizing the servants and guards.

At the climax of the story, Bartholomew confronts King Derwin for giving such a rash order.

“If you can’t do anything else,” says Bartholomew, “at least you can say you’re sorry.”

King Derwin refuses, and Bartholomew says, “If you can look at all the horror you’ve caused and not say you’re sorry, you’re no sort of king at all.”

In real-life, the king would have almost certainly ordered Bartholomew’s execution.  But this is a children’s story.

So, overcome with guilt, King Derwin utters the magic words: “You’re right, this is all my fault, and I am sorry.”

Suddenly the Oobleck stops raining and the sun melts away the rest. With life returning to normal, King Derwin mounts the bell tower and rings the bell. He proclaims a holiday dedicated not to Oobleck, but to rain, sun, fog, and snow, the four elements of Nature—of which Man is but a part.

* * * * *

Flash forward to May 29, 2010: BP has admitted defeat in its latest attempt to plug the Gulf of Mexico oil leak by pumping mud into a busted well. More than 1.2 million gallons of mud was used, but most of it escaped out of the damaged riser

In the six weeks since the spill began on April 20, BP has failed in each attempt to stop the gusher.

First, the company used robot submarines to try to close valves on the massive blowout preventer. But the valves wouldn’t close.

Two weeks later, BP tried to place a 100-ton concrete box over the leak. But this was soon clogged with ice-like crystals.

Then engineers used a mile-long siphon tube to suck up the gushing oil. But the tube sucked up only 900,000 gallons of oil—out of an estimated 18- to 40 million gallons of oil pouring into the Gulf.

“This scares everybody,” admitted BP PLC Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles. “The fact that we can’t make this well stop flowing, the fact that we haven’t succeeded so far. Many of the things we’re trying have been done on the surface before, but have never been tried at 5,000 feet.”

There is a moral to be learned here—but not by right-wing fanatics like Sarah Palin and the “Drill, baby, drill” crowd. It’s only for those who are willing to confront the truth head-on:

There are forces in Nature far more powerful than anything Man and his puny strength can defy—or harness. And we invoke the wrath of those forces at our own peril.

In the world of children’s stories, it’s possible for a king to undo the terrible damage he’s unleashed by finding the courage to say: “I’m sorry.” BP’s top executives—and the government officials who refused to hold the company accountable—have been saying “I’m sorry” for the last six weeks.

It hasn’t proven enough, and the residents of Louisiana—and states well beyond it—will be living with the damage of this environmental holocaust for decades to come.

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