From now through May 15, 2017, the public is invited to comment on the proposed dismantling of many Environmental Protection Agency regulations. I am strongly opposed to undoing the progress of decades, which has resulted in cleaner air and stricter regulations on toxic emissions. I submitted a comment, and other people in the US can too. (I’m not sure if comments from people from other countries “count,” but I will update this post if I find out.)
Tell a *long* personal story about your community environment and how all EPA rules sustain it. Clean air & water are easy picking.
Others mentioned using easy-to-find “before and after” photos of air quality and beaches (the site accepts media as well as text, although it is the text that becomes part of the public record, as I understand it).
Here is my submission. (I didn’t include the photos that are in this blog.) I urge others to comment as well.
Comment To Regulations.gov
I am 58 years old and suffer from lung problems directly resulting from poorly regulated crop-dusting in California in the 1960s and smog in the early 1970s before the Clean Air Act of 1970 had completely taken effect. The Clean Air Act and its amendments have been so successful that it is hard to remember how bad the air used to be in our major cities and industrial areas. Many people are too young to remember and I fervently hope that they never have to see dirty air in their lifetimes. The lasting damage to my lungs is medically controlled and is not worsening now that we have regulations on air quality.
Industrial pollutants have also been reduced in our water but now we have the problem of plastics and their effect on the water ecosystem. I hope to see more done to address this problem, as it is having dire effects on ocean life in ways that are going to travel up the food chain to affect us all.
EPA regulations are in place to **protect** the American people. They do so in a way that cuts across class and region. I have never heard a private citizen complain about unnecessary burdens about keeping our air and water clean. I strongly disagree with the executive order’s claim that such regulations create “unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on the American people.”
Clean air, water, and a wholesome environment that all can enjoy and feel safe in belong to all Americans.These resources are part of the commons that all can enjoy and all should protect.
As a private citizen, my ecological footprint is fairly small. I recycle. I try not to waste. I am careful about herbicides and pesticides. I treat my little patch of the earth well. I am proud that part of my tax money goes to protect the environment that all of us can enjoy. I want to pay my fair share.
Industrial companies use more resources. They are bigger potential sources of pollution. They should pay their fair share as well. Our air and water are not there to be used and “spent” by businesses. Businesses don’t have the right to take what belongs to all of us and thus externalize their costs, i.e., make the populace pay for their use of resources that belong to us all.
I am proud that there are some companies that have pledged not to take advantage if EPA regulations are loosened or abolished. Many companies can show the growth in jobs because of the regulations. Others point out the advantages to the regulations and claim that they are not burdensome. But obviously, the regulations need to stay in place because of those who will not take care of our environment without legislation.
Over the years, as companies have complied with the regulations, scientists have discovered cleaner and more effective ways to use energy. These help the companies, the public, and the growth of scientific knowledge.
These EPA regulations protect Americans. I am proud that they have been created. They have been put in place over the course of many years, with the best planning and analysis our scientists could offer. They have given immense benefits to our nation. To abolish them at this point—as we enjoy a cleaner planet but are also trying to slow climate change and make sure that our planet survives—is beyond ridiculous. We need them. Americans need them. People worldwide need them, since the ecological footprint of the United States is so large. Finally, the planet needs them. It needs the regulations that are in place—and more.
Copyright 2017 Eileen Anderson
All photos copyright Eileen Anderson
The other day there was a news piece showing a conservative senator from my state disagreeing with the way the Republican Party was moving on a hot topic. It sounded like he would vote against what the majority of the party was trying to do.
I could hardly believe it and I posted about it on Facebook. I said was going to call his office and thank him for that position.
Many of my friends were as excited as I was. Others were supportive but pointed out the negatives. He wasn’t against the legislation I disapproved of; he just wanted to slow things down. (True.) He probably had another, worse agenda. (Quite possible.) His actions would make no difference in the long run. (Hmm.)
I’m new to this politics stuff. It’s years since I have been politically active. But I disagree about that part about it making no difference.
We have a majority Republican Congress. If they have unity in their party, they will be able to push through so many actions that will harm our country’s people. That unity, that bloc, is our meta-problem. It will come to bear on every issue that goes before a vote.
Those Republicans who do disagree on small or large points will find themselves the recipients of huge pressure from the majority. Not to mention from the president. They will be ruining the party, raining on the parade. In most cases it will be a difficult stance to take.
I say most cases because I’ve become aware that some members of Congress will vote against their party at times when they are sure it won’t affect the outcome. But you know, even stepping out of the party line by that small amount takes a certain amount of chutzpah.
Maybe I’m naive, but it seems to me that when any of them publicly disagree with an evil agenda item supported by their party, that’s a good thing. It’s a hard thing for humans to do.
I’m going to support the action of a Republican senator or representative who opposes the bloc and stands up for the American people and American values. I’m going to dish out the kudos and thank-you calls and remind them of the other constituents out there like me.
I called my senator and left a message with an aide praising his statements. I said I hoped he would keep up that position. I added some personal remarks. I had a goal in mind with this call, but it was completely honest. I can disagree with 95% of what comes out of a politician’s mouth and still seek to reinforce what may be his standing on something we partly agree on. That’s the best it’s going to get for some time to come, I think. In my state, anyway.
I’ll be calling about the things I disagree with as well. But I’ve heard (and believe, since it’s human nature), that they receive far more negative responses than positive ones. So maybe my calls with the intent of positive reinforcement will count for something.
Hey conservatives, aren’t you supposed to be in favor of strong leaders who will represent and protect the United States? Leaders who will show solid and firm leadership and clear vision?
You blew it. You have elected a thin-skinned entitled weakling. The most sensitive snowflake of them all.
Today is Day Six, and he is still focused on obsessed with how many people attended the inauguration and how many people voted for him (or woulda shoulda).
This president, elected by a minority, is not a strong leader. He attempts to speak with authority, but can only produce a weak mimicry. His insecurity and thin skin thwart him at every turn. Public opinion buffets him about without any semblance of self-control on his part.
Would a strong, confident leader be obsessing over the vote counts of an election he won?
And then there are his responses to television shows. Saturday Night Live has satirized every president since Gerald Ford. It goes with the territory. But no president until now has panicked and started hurling insults. All of his predecessors–Republicans and Democrats–knew better than he how to be strong leaders.
Your minority-elected president lost it again when a respected actress praised the press and criticized him when accepting an award. She didn’t even say his name, which must have burned him a little extra. Maybe you think her speech was ridiculous or out of line. Maybe you don’t think actors and other creative artists shouldn’t speak out politically. But aren’t you wincing just a little bit that he brought so much attention to his own ridiculous sensitivity to criticism? Not to mention that her speech against him got much more airtime as a result of his protests?
It’s pretty funny. Look up the current definition of the term snowflake. Here’s a definition from the Urban Dictionary.
An overly sensitive person, incapable of dealing with any opinions that differ from their own. These people can often be seen congregating in “safe zones” on college campuses.
No, he’s not in college, but wouldn’t the minority-elected president love a “safe zone”? One where he wouldn’t have to be confronted by those pesky facts and people who don’t think he is the most wonderful person in the world? He’s used to being able to create a safe zone with his money.* It must be a shock to be on a stage so big that even his money can’t buy enough yes-men. Although he made a transparent attempt at it by bringing his own claque to a serious public meeting.
Doesn’t he, like, have a country to run? But let’s face it. He can’t. He is a loser. He can’t concentrate on anything but his image. He can be bought by anyone willing to suck up and he has betrayed your trust.
More than sad. Tragic.
*Please note that I don’t use the term “snowflake” as an epithet against millennials or liberals of any age. Sensitivity in itself does not equate to weakness.
Addendum 1/27/17: I am learning about the history of the word “snowflake” and it is possible that it has an older and very loathsome usage. I’m not going to define it here. There is some debate on the subject. That is not the meaning I am evoking and I wrote this piece without knowing about it. I am open to removing the piece or rewriting using different terminology. Please contact me via social media if you’d like to discuss this.
Yesterday I went to the post office to mail something. I was going to have to get a container at the post office; I didn’t have one at home. In the US, you can get free boxes of certain sizes to use for Priority Mail, a category of expedited mail. But they didn’t have a free box that would fit what I was trying to mail.
I then looked at the boxes available for sale and there was one that would fit my parcel. I figured I would also need to buy some tape. This was close to Christmas and there was a line of people practically to the back door. I looked at these items and contemplated the long line. I didn’t want to go through it twice; first to buy the supplies, then to mail the package after having boxed it up.
I was a little nervous about it, but I decided to go ahead and box up my parcel using the post office’s box and tape before going through the line. In other words, I used the items before paying for them. The only place I could pack the box was on a little table that was right next to the back door. So I not only had these two items I had not yet purchased but I also looked as if I was going to leave with them.
I did this and nothing bad happened. I set up at the table and boxed up my parcel without incident. Then I got in line. It wasn’t as bad as I had thought; it took about 15 minutes to get to the front. I told the post office worker immediately that I needed to pay for the box and the tape as well as mailing the package. Again, there were no untoward consequences.
White Privilege, Here We Come
This is an example of white privilege and class privilege. Although I was a little nervous about doing it, I made the decision with confidence that it would be OK. These are the actions and attitude of a person who has never been in danger from an authority figure. Who has rarely been negatively profiled. Who has never been falsely arrested, shamed in public, or lost a relative to law enforcement violence.
Instead, I felt that I could explain my way out of any bad situation. That’s probably true, and it’s because I am white and look middle class. I rarely dress up; I was wearing cheap jeans and a T-shirt. But some marks of class privilege were there. My teeth have been straightened. I was wearing high-end cross training shoes. The most important class aspect was probably that I have the confidence about speaking in public that can come from higher education. Frankly, with the exception of gender-related prejudice, I’m used to being treated well. (That’s a big exception, but let’s leave it for another day.)
Where I live, people of color and people of any race who appear working class or impoverished have to be careful in places of business. They are profiled as potential shoplifters. They are often followed or made to feel unwelcome by staff. Most would not feel comfortable and wouldn’t risk using something that they had not paid for the way I did.
I’m not sure if what I did was legal or not. (Another sign of privilege, by the way. I tried it without even knowing.) I’ve read that no one can arrest a shoplifter until they actually exit the store with an item not paid for. But even if true, that doesn’t necessarily protect one from being hassled or shamed in public. That happens to some more than others, though.
Legal or not, my actions weren’t victimless. I should have gone through the line twice. I cheated the system. In so doing, I got ahead of some people who would have been ahead of me if I had played by the rules. Plenty of the people in line were people of color, by the way. But even if there hadn’t been any, the thing that was helping me feel OK about what I was doing was white privilege.
I apologize. I can’t make it right with those people but I won’t be doing that again. And I regret the sense of entitlement that helped me feel like that was an OK thing to do.
I’m not looking to be absolved or praised for my realization. I published this in hopes of encouraging others to notice their privileges and to help myself do better in that regard. Embarrassingly, it was only through the process of writing it that I realized that I had wronged others through my actions.
To head off a few protests: I know this was a small incident with fairly low stakes. But how many times a day does that happen to me and I don’t even realize it? What difference does it make to my psyche that there is a whole set of things I don’t have to worry about that people of color do?
Also, there are probably some people of color and working class white people who would have done what I did. And there are some well-off whites who wouldn’t have risked it. When dealing with human behavior we rarely get 100%.
But my confidence came from my history of being treated well. And that is directly related to being white in a nation that has not yet left racism in the past.
Check out this thoughtful list of the ways white privilege affects white people (and by implication, how it affects people of color). Becoming conscious of these things is exactly my goal. The list is by Professor Peggy McIntosh, Associate Director of the Center for Research on Women at Wellesley College. It is posted on the website of Professor Julie Lewis, Department Chair for African American Studies at De Anza College, who incidentally turns out to be from my hometown.
In an earlier post, I called Donald Trump a racist. I didn’t back this up with any examples. I thought it was unnecessary because the evidence is overwhelming. But a reader disagreed with my claim. He gave examples that, in his opinion, showed that Mr. Trump is not a racist.
This is old, old ground. It has been much explored and much trampled. But I’m going to tackle it again. My focus is to discuss what would constitute evidence to back up my statement. In my “other” writing life, I write a lot about critical thinking and evidence-based practices. I think that will be a good approach here.
So this post won’t prove that Donald Trump is a racist. Instead, it demonstrates how one might go about assessing that in an evidence-based way–for Donald Trump or any public figure. I told my reader that we were using different metrics to assess Mr. Trump regarding racism. Here’s my metric.
The Definition of Racism
The first step is to define the term.
Racist: A person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.–Oxford English Dictionaries (American version)
My second step is to list observable behaviors that correlate with the definition of racism. Here’s the list I came up with.
Has this person created and participated in situations where people of color or different ethnicities were discriminated against?
Has this person made remarks that perpetuated racist stereotypes?
Does this person treat people of different races differently?
Has this person been dismissive or silent about racism?
Have racist organizations embraced this person?
Does this person promulgate information from such groups?
Does this person hire and surround himself mostly with white people?
Does this person hire and/or associate with racists?
Does this person contribute financially to overtly racist causes?
If the person has performed any of the above behaviors or stated these beliefs, we should note how many of these incidences are part of the public record. This isn’t because private racism is OK. It’s because we are making a case. Public evidence is strong.
Take-Home Assignment: Trump’s Score
I know of multiple public, recorded examples of all the numbered behaviors above on Donald Trump’s part except for #9. But I’m not going to rehash them. That would convert a 700-word post to a 2,700-word one. My focus is on how to make the assessment. The behaviors are ones that everyone who followed the election even a little bit is aware of.
Making an Assessment
In the life of any public figure, there may be examples of racist behaviors and contrasting examples of inclusiveness or stepping up to combat racism. Perhaps their attitudes and behaviors changed over time. Perhaps they are a person who tries hard but slips up now and then. So the third step would be to look at the evidence as a whole. I’ll be discussing that part in the next post.
But here’s a hint:
“Being nice to a black person once” does not make one non-racist.
Receiving an award 30 years ago does not make one non-racist.
Posing for a photo with people of color does not make one a non-racist.
I will cover this in the next post and will include a discussion of tokenism.
I used a definition of racism above that is narrow and easy to work with. But I believe that a white person growing up in the United States cannot help but be racist. It’s intrinsic to our language, present in our mores, and still implicit in many of our laws. My job as a white person is to fight those tendencies and be a good ally, not to claim immunity or award it to people I approve of.
To me, whether someone is a racist is not a yes/no question, but a question of degree. However you look at it, I bet if you assess it using the list above you will find Mr. Trump’s score to be pretty high.
Like many other people who are appalled at the idea of Donald Trump as president of the United States, I can’t understand those who downplay the problems. The people who insist that those of us who raise concerns should just “get over it.” Those who gloat at their candidate’s win as if the election were a football game.
I have been a registered Democrat most of my life (after a stint as a Libertarian) but I have always voted for the person, not the party. When a candidate I didn’t care for won office, I was disappointed, sure, but it wasn’t the end of the world.
But what is happening now with Donald Trump is not the same. It is not a normal situation. The problems with this man’s plans and behavior cross party lines.
Mr. Trump is continuing to lie and promote drama after the election just as he did before. He is proving himself uncaring about the United States and its citizens and he is breaking campaign promises at an impressive rate. He pushes aside ethics concerns about his business interests. He is appointing fox after fox to the henhouse. He is already making the U.S. vulnerable to being exploited by other countries. Whole categories of its citizens are in immediate danger from his promotion of racism, misogyny, ableism, and anti-Semitism. He has given bigots implicit permission to malign, abuse, threaten, and injure target populations and they are doing so. The policies he promises to carry out will endanger these groups (and many others) further.
It’s clear that he used and lied to his backers in a calculated way to get their votes and get elected. I, along with millions of others, see our country in danger from this man. And we can’t understand those who don’t. Here is my attempt to explain. I urge those who voted for and/or support Donald Trump to try to see the situation the other way around.
Once upon a time there was a presidential election in the United States. One of the Democratic candidates was quite eccentric. His name was Richard Crown. He was a white guy with dreads and he dressed like a 1960s hippie, though he was too young to have been one. He barely met the age requirement for the presidency. He was or had been married (it wasn’t quite clear), but often brought a girlfriend along to his speaking engagements. (Not always the same one.) They would make out on stage, to the delight of the crowd.
This candidate promised to legalize all recreational drugs at the national level. He recorded his own acid trips and published them on YouTube.
He believed that the US should open its borders without restrictions and, in addition, give every immigrant $500 on arrival. He just blew it off when people warned him that unlimited cash payments would wreck our economy. He planned to force a complete redistribution of wealth in the U.S. anyway, so he figured this would be a good start. He also planned to shut down most of the military.
His campaign appearances were circus-like. He dressed in costumes and would often throw water balloons or dozens of beach balls into the audience. He would make a game of drawing straws to choose federal agencies to do away with. He would smoke weed during his speeches. He mocked and mimicked other candidates.
He didn’t “believe” in sexually transmitted diseases and advocated for unprotected sex, including a pro-intercourse educational initiative for high school students. He planned to decriminalize drunk driving and all other alcohol- and drug-related regulations.
Republicans were appalled at him and so were many Democrats. His platform was not liberal. It was eccentric. Most Democrats thought he would be beaten early on by a more serious candidate. But he had a cadre of strong supporters. It turned out that this odd guy was a PhD climatologist and seemed to have a fantastic plan to address greenhouse gasses and climate change. Scientists around the world vetted the parts of his plan he made public. The plan was innovative and appeared workable. He kept back some of the details, swearing to publicize everything after he was elected.
When called on the damage he could do and his amorality, supporters claimed that they were able to forgive the terrible effects of his shorter-range plans. He was going to save the earth from disaster with his remedies for climate change. There would always be time to take care of those other problems later.
He won the Democratic nomination with votes from environmentalists, some people who were eager to see wealth distributed in their direction, recreational drug users, a lot of people who thought he was entertaining, and a good handful who were saying FU to the system. Others were terrified.
As the campaign went on, he was dogged by controversy. There were multiple paternity suits against him. He seemed to have at least two concurrent marriages since he had failed to complete divorce paperwork. But neither of his wives participated in the campaign and they were rarely seen. Instead, many of his campaign stops ended up looking like the Jerry Springer show, with arguments between his girlfriends and former girlfriends. He drove around in an old Volkswagen van and made a game out of trying to elude the Secret Service personnel who were required to protect him.
He had direct financial interests in illegal drug activities and bragged about the money he would make when all drugs were legalized. Many of his activities were clearly illegal but somehow never got prosecuted.
His personal insults and name-calling directed to the other candidates were unprecedented.
Republicans were trying to get the Democrats to listen. This goes beyond party politics, they said. This man’s policies will cause immediate harm. Children will get sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancies will skyrocket. Dismantling the military while the rest of the world is armed will make our country completely vulnerable. There will be no way to get justice or restitution for families of people killed by drunk or high drivers. When the economy collapses, as it surely will, everyone will suffer. And what about his personal habits? What if he is high when a national emergency happens? In addition to his bizarre plans, he doesn’t have the right temperament to be a good president, to represent our country. He’s a terrible role model for our kids.
But somehow he won the election. He started making plans for his presidency. His attitude and actions were the same as during the campaign. He formulated plans for his ill-advised acts. He continued his attention-seeking antics. Drug use and drunk driving immediately increased. Financiers committed suicide. But the promised climate change fix didn’t look like it was coming to fruition anytime soon.
The election results did not calm the Republicans’ concerns. Their dreaded outcomes were coming true. They engaged in activism and wrote many articles and editorials. They gave to organizations that had promised to fight Mr. Crown. But his supporters said, “Get over it! Stop whining! Our guy won!” They objected vociferously when questioned about their support of this guy who was already taking the country to hell in a handbasket.
The Republicans tried in vain to explain that this was different. This was not politics as usual. They may have hated and blocked Obama and been disgusted by Bill Clinton. But Richard Crown was an immediate threat to the United States and its citizens, and the threat was becoming more concrete every day, not less so. They tried and tried to explain it. They could not understand the failure of Crown’s supporters to understand, their smug dismissal of any concerns, their accusations of “sore losers!”
Richard Crown’s policies threatened to destroy our country and put thousands of lives in immediate danger. His refusal to take the office of president seriously practically invited other countries to take advantage of our weakened situation. Yet his supporters could not, would not perceive it.
I know this analogy is flawed. Frankly, I couldn’t think of a liberal-gone-wild candidate who could compare. I couldn’t think of a set of radical policies that would have the immediate deleterious effects on U.S. citizens that Donald Trump’s racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and carelessness already have. But my goal was to describe a candidate whose policies and demeanor were dangerous and far beyond the bounds of acceptability. One who couldn’t be trusted to run a corner store, much less the country.
That’s what we have in Trump. The evidence keeps rolling in, with none to the contrary. A Trump supporter can’t write with a speck of truth that Trump is doing what he promised to do. Instead, he is already doing exactly what his critics feared he would do. And it will benefit none but a tiny percentage of Americans: the financially elite.
What will it take for his supporters to perceive it?
Trump the Man vs. Policies
I have read some persuasive arguments that articles focusing on Donald Trump’s unacceptable behavior are ineffective. That the way to fight against Trump effectively is to ignore the outrageousness of his behavior and to concentrate on the day-to-day policy decisions coming from him and his decision makers. Perhaps that is so. I am actually doing both in this article. I hope that something I write here will get through to those who still seek to defend him.
This goes beyond party politics, beyond liberal and conservative. His behavior is abhorrent. Donald Trump is a danger to this country, immediately to ethnic and religious minorities, immigrants, LGBT, the working class and the poor, but eventually to all.
Connecting Politics and Learning Theory: Norms and Habituation