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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

One Party Politics

America is at a critical time in its long storied history.  Today we have a President who says publicly he supports policies which will benefit the people of this nation while signing Executive Orders which decimate those very same policies and others. 

He smiles and declares he is in charge and everything will be amazing but the Congress of his same party passes bills to reduce access to healthcare and other social services this poor nation needs.  They pass bills for revolutionary change and this President is sure to sign them into law without much fanfare.

He has set this nation on a path to degradation and loss which may not be survivable. The government of the United State was instituted to protect people from harm both foreign and domestic. The foreign threats were armies which never came. The foreign threats were ideologies which are counter to the life, liberty and happiness of citizens. The foreign threats were the economic interests of non-American corporations with designs on taking profits from Americans in unequal trade balances.

The domestic threats are the corporations which seek to exploit extractive resources (minerals, gas, oil, lumber, coal) while leaving their sites barren and prone to letting  toxins and excessive rainfall to run off into clean streams. Prior to the EPA clear-cut mountain slopes experienced erosion of soils into waterways when the trees were gone. EPA required remedial measures; reforestation and runoff controls.

Coal and other mineral mining operations were required to contain their tailings.

Coal Ash Pit at Powerplant

"Mine tailings are the ore waste of mines, and are typically a mud-like material. Worldwide, the storage and handling of tailings is a major environmental issue. Many tailings are toxic and must be kept perpetually isolated from the environment." from Wikipedia

Without regulations the mining companies typically mix the tailing with a sufficient quantity of water to make it flow through pipes and discharge it into the nearest stream with impunity.

When this President speaks of economic value to reducing government regulations, he really is saying industrial enterprises will be once again allowed to freely pollute the environment and poison humans who live nearby, downstream and downwind of the operations. A number of jobs might be created or retained by such reductions of operating costs but the damage done to the health of the population now and in the future is far greater.

Joe Magarac hero of Steelworkers
For example, a coal miner may earn $50,000 per year (if his wage is not extremely curtailed by the removal of collective bargaining regulations). The other side of the Equals Sign is the cost of treating Black Lung Disease which most every coal miner will eventually suffer can exceed the 10-year earning potential of the miner. The only way to make coal mining "profitable" is if the treatment of lung disease and other physical injuries is completely neglected. The only way to completely neglect those costs is to NOT TREAT the miner. Otherwise taxpayers pick up the bill anyway. It becomes a "hidden" cost of using coal.

So when the President declares the policies of the nation and the congress is complicit in fashioning legislation which allows for the degradation of the air, land and water; the reduction of public education; the reduction of healthcare access; Laissez-faire financial policy on the banking empires, to whom can the people address their grievances? We have this body called the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) that is supposed to evaluate Executive, Legislative and other judicial actions in terms of the US Constitution.

When the Chief Executive has the job to appoint Judges to this body and the Legislature has the job of confirming or rejecting those appointment, when all parties involved are of the same political party and partisan ideology what is the remedy for people who are harmed by the actions and decisions? When all three Branches are dominated by a single political position this is a recipe for a steamroller takeover of what America has been.

If you are person who wants everything made easy and profitable for corporations, you will be happy about the course the nation is being driven. If you think people should be able to live unencumbered lives free of extreme hardships you will not like the direction the nation is going.

Here is the bottom line concern. One elected man; his two dozen or so appointed cabinet members that lead federal government departments and bureaus have the legal authority to completely dismantle this nation's government and reset all the regulations previously enacted to make this country great. They have the authority to command bombs to be dropped on any country, send troops to any theater and commit the full military assets for any real or imagined reason. If Congress doesn't take action to stop him, we the people will have to pay the bills and suffer the consequences. One party politics is a huge failure.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Yes,The Law is on Trumps Side, but...

Yes the Law is on Trump's side. Therein lies the problem. The laws have always been written and interpreted in terms of rational people who were placed in charge of our democracy. Alternatively, they were written by people who would derive value from the efforts of others and call it their own.

Never before has there been a scenario where United States elected officials were subverted by foreign influences and those people were the ones in power. It has always been the influence of domestic power that allowed the individuals vested with power to yield that power with little or no interference. While the Law may be on Trumps side, that doesn't mean the laws are good laws of just and equitable laws. Those laws can be changed.

Today we have a man who has wrested power from the former owners and is utilizing it for entirely new purposes. Not only does he represent a particular political party but he also has the backing of both the House and the Senate. His use of power has been commingled with his own enterprises for creation of personal and family wealth. People with whom he has business relations are standing in line for him to sign the papers to free them to exploit terrestrial resources and those of people that in need. 

Nothing he sends their way will get voted down and no bills sent to him will be vetoed. This entire scenario is the recipe for disaster. At some point in time he and Congress will differ on some positions but all the important and far reaching actions will already have been agreed upon. Food availability, housing, medical care, education are all a matter of law. So is who is allowed to have such things.

He is feeding the GOP controlled Congress all the items they have had on their agenda for decades. Education policy is trashed by a religious zealot until Congress formally disposed of the Department entirely. Similarly, the Attorney General, William Sessions, is a self-styled racist judge who also promised to foist his religious notions on minority groups under the guise of "restoring religious freedoms with such Act as titled: Restoring Religious Freedoms Act. Eliminating the Environmental Protection Administration is yet another action now or soon to be signed out of existence via signature on an Executive Order.

Once GOP is finished with Mr. Trump, they will kick him to the curb in favor of their more favored President, Mike Pence. He will be better suited to carry America into its century of Theocratic governance.

However, in the meantime, the Law is on the side of the now President, Trump. But that power of law is not absolute. The US has a Judicial Branch which was designed to keep the Legislature and Executive in check. Neither of them can run off willy-nilly doing just anything they want to. There remains that ever-present and highly regarded document, the Constitution, to be satisfied.

The founding father of this country saw the possibilities of a tyrant getting into power or for an incompetent to be elected by the folly of the people who were so taken astray. They built into the Constitution safeguard to right the wrong. It is time this country take a long and hard look at the road we are now traveling. It is time to stop and go a different way.