Sunday, August 18, 2019

Whom do you trust? My goodness, not him

            So, are you good with Roundup now?

            The Environmental Protection Agency, made golden in the image of Donald Trump, just pronounced the weed-killer not a human-killer.

            The wind gust you just heard? That was a sigh of relief from Roundup's maker, Monsanto. Or maybe there was no suspense at all.

            The EPA announced that it won't approve cancer warnings on products with glyphosate, Roundup's active ingredient.

            This despite the International Agency for Research's asserting a cancer link is probable.

            This despite a string of victories for plaintiffs claiming the chemical caused their cancer, with 13,000 suits pending.

            So, go ahead and use Roundup with the confidence inspired by he who recently said he's a world-class environmentalist, that as president he is "working so hard" on clean water and air.

            This despite – well -- everything he has done.

            Indeed, those who care might read Politico's fact-check on "Trump's environmental rhetoric vs. record."

            The crux is that Trump has virtually no claim to any environmental gains. To the contrary: He has undermined many key initiatives made under President Obama toward cleaner air and water.

            Of course, we all knew that. It is high comedy that Trump would spin any other pretense.

            Look at the cast of profiteers and pillagers he has appointed to oversee our environment and its public lands.

            His EPA director, Andrew Wheeler, is a former coal-industry lobbyist. That's some qualification.

            His Interior secretary, David Bernhardt, is a former lobbyist for big agriculture and oil and gas.

            Obviously, the key qualification for stewardship of the environment in this administration is to have carried water for its despoilers.

            If that sounds like hyperbole, consider that Bernhardt recently appointed William Perry Pendley to be acting head of the Bureau of Land Management.

            What is Pendley's qualification? Um, look at what he wrote for the National Review in 2016: that the founding fathers "intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold."

            In other words, he had Trump at, "Hello."

            Last week the administration set forth to hamper the Endangered Species Act, although in comical Trump-speak, Bernhardt said the action really was about making it work better:

            "The best way to the Endangered Species Act is to do everything we can to ensure it remains effective in achieving its ultimate goal – recovery of our rarest species."

            So, do you think the Trump administration is interested in doing this very thing? Clearly it is not, as attested to by a provision that would put cost considerations ahead of species preservation.

            Whom do you trust? Not them.

            Back to Roundup. I'm not in a position to state that it causes cancer or not. Just know that Monsanto has pumped millions of dollars into the policy-making process in terms of lobbying and campaign donations. It was one of the big contributors to the Trump inauguration.

            Pursuant to the job specifications for working on his team, last year Trump nominated a former Monsanto executive, Aurelia Skipwith, to head up the Fish and Wildlife Service.

            This came after the same agency decided in Monsanto's favor when it rescinded an Obama administration ban on the use of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides in farming operations in national wildlife refuges.

            I don't know neonicotinoids from adenoids, but I know whom I trust when it comes to protecting the environment and public lands. It's not the con man with the itchy Twitter fingers. It's not people compromised by their involvement in industries that they would govern.

            So, go ahead. Stick with Roundup. I'll pass.

            Come to think of it, there could have been no suspense at all about the glyphosate decision. Monsanto knew whom it could trust. What about you?

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

‘All lives matter’? You don’t mean it

           Congressman Kevin McCarthy spun the wheel of empty rationalizations. It came up: "video games."

            It could have landed on "gay marriage," or "changing gender roles," or "God removed from schools." To him, no doubt, "video games" sounded fresh.

            Whether he realized it or not, in his empty rationalization, McCarthy, R-Trumpland, used one word that could not be more pertinent: "dehumanizing."

            In the wake of so much death in El Paso and Dayton, the House minority leader cited video games for "dehumanizing individuals."

            It's true; death treated as sport offends the senses. However, if you're troubled by dehumanization, look no further than what our president says.

            "Invasion," "animals," "rapists and murderers," "rat-infested," "shit-hole countries."

            The better to dehumanize people and places.

            Look at the sub-human treatment authorized by this administration and endorsed by supporters: children in cages, families ripped to pieces, refugees treated like drug-runners.

            What's happened at the border -- and we're not talking here about 22 people shot dead for the color of their skin -- offers a fulsome means of calling out those whose smug rejoinder to the Black Lives Matter movement is, "All lives matter."

            All lives? You don't mean it.

            You couldn't care less, for instance, about the tearful children in Mississippi who became instant orphans in the massive ICE raids that took away their parents by the hundreds on the same day our president visited Dayton and El Paso.

            By the way, the undocumented, brown-skinned people are invaders, but those who profit from their labor are just good businessmen.

            Corporations are people, say conservatives and their judicial heroes, but the same classification – human -- can't be afforded "them" by those with a broad-based animus:

            Dehumanized: 22 shot dead in El Paso because of the color of their skin.

            Dehumanized: 11 shot dead at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

            Dehumanized: Nine African-Americans shot dead in a Charleston, S.C., church.

            Trump called for a "total and complete" shutdown of Muslims entering the country. When the matter went to court, he walked back those comments a baby step. But others didn't equivocate. His horrific theme begat a wave of arson and vandalism at mosques across our country.

            "All lives matter." It sounds good coming from white-flight communities and out in the hinterland where a world of difference is another planet entirely.

            It is telling that the highest level of concern about immigration is out in those places where diversity is an abstraction.

            In the meantime, places where such diversity is a reality have little appetite for Trump or his brand of racism, much less the kind of racism that would drive a gunman hundreds of miles to kill.

            Is Trump to blame for that man's actions? The point is immaterial. Trump didn't order anyone to kill. However, he helped the killer's thought process by dehumanizing whole swaths of people.

            At this point, few could argue that, as Joe Biden said after the killings in El Paso and Ohio, "We have a president with a toxic tongue who has publicly and without unapologetically embraced the political strategy of hate, racism and division."

            Unless one demonstrates it otherwise, "all lives matter" is an empty claim.

            What matters? Tax cuts that help those who don't need any. Policies sculpted by the religious right. Dictums that eviscerate environmental laws and leave public lands at risk.

            Oh, and don't forget that most precious of all considerations, that firearm. Know for sure that the NRA is not letting Trump forget it right now.

            In the words of a T-shirt seen the other day:

            "All guns matter."

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

 

Monday, August 5, 2019

GOP, religious right wedded in moral rot

            How far we've come. 

            From FDR's fireside chats to grade-school tweets that light tiki torches. 

            From JFK's selflessness to every man for himself. 

            From Barack Obama's "Amazing Grace" to . . . the man who in 2016 took the down escalator into our nation's life. 

            He hardened America's racial divides. He demeaned women. He has shown his chief devotion to be the spouting of lies. 

            History will record all of this. Whether impeached or not, Donald Trump and his amen chorus won't escape the judgment that matters most. 

            His chief enablers: Republicans in Congress who swallowed the olive when the House made a simple statement that racism is what racism does. 

            Add the poohbahs of right-wing mega-religiosity.

            The charlatan-in-chief has played them like a pipe organ. Talk about a boys choir. 

            Franklin Graham, you deserve never to question anyone's integrity, anyone's consistency, anyone's fealty to Christian values.

            Jerry Falwell Jr., we condemn you forever to explain why it is that when you preach about godly behavior, some can just play through (golf parlance there).

            Robert Jeffress has a big congregation, preaching virtue at First Baptist Dallas. And he has emerged as a big hypocrite as Fox News' go-to man to rationalize all things Trump. A new Texas Monthly profile of Jeffress shows him to be the definition of glib equivocation.

            Given the opportunity to acknowledge Trump to be the racist most Americans know him to be, Jeffress shows he also knows it to be true, in so many words. How do we know? Because he does the playground thing Trump has mastered. He deflects.

            "Racism comes in all shapes, all sizes, and, yes, colors," Jeffress says.

            Yes, but what about Trump's colors?

            What about Trump's obliteration of most of the Ten Commandments? Consider the one – I think it's No. 7 -- about not bedding porn stars and playmates (while married), then paying off said porn stars and playmates (with campaign funds) so voters won't know about it.

            Jeffress sniffs that he and fellow evangelicals knew "they weren't voting for an altar boy" in promoting their boy.

            That just about gives us all a pass, Pastor. If not, why not?

            Texas Monthly's Michael J. Mooney describes these actions as an otherwise righteous man's "Faustian bargain" -- a deal with the devil, for those not into opera.

            Sorry, but this gives them too much credit. 

            The Apostle Matthew was thinking of you, Robert Jeffress, when paraphrasing this from your maker: "It is useless for you to worship me when you teach rules made up by humans." 

            It's all politics, you see. Do you see? 

            It's telling that Jeffress and others of his ilk have spoken out against the so-called Johnson Amendment, which prohibits tax-exempt churches from being partisan vessels. 

            Shortly after taking office, Trump ordered the Treasury Department not to enforce that law. 

            If Graham, Falwell and Jeffress truly were men of God, they would denounce Trump's pandering and say that politics is not their gig. 

            Unfortunately, they saddled this horse, and this is how they ride. 

            So, too, with the Republican Party. 

            Now Trump is pulling off the two-for-one task of sapping both the GOP and the Graham-Jeffress crowd of vital support. 

            Sure, Trump can fill an arena, and Franklin Graham can fill the Superdome. Outside those walls, though, people are fleeing. 

            Young Americans especially are disgusted by Trump. Check any poll you desire.

            Jennifer Rubin -- herself a conservative -- writes in the Washington Post that the GOP is digging a hole for itself: "The moral cowardice" of Republicans in Washington, she warns, "is matched by the low opinion of their own voters." 

            The same cowardice, one can clearly infer, is displayed by religious leaders who have hitched themselves to a role model from hell. 

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.