Driving dirty air

The Republican Party, which is now Donald Trump’s Republican Party (DTRP), has long heralded itself as the party of less big government and more local control. They’ve argued that states, cities, and counties know what is best for them and they should set standards.

DTRP dislikes car emission standards set by California’s elected leaders  so much so that a court battle looms over the state’s ability to set standards for vehicles, which California began doing in 1966.

In fact, the emission standards have worked so well that 13 states adopted California’s standards, meaning that car and light truck manufacturers have already designed their products and factories to meet emission standards which keep air cleaner. It also means consumers are buying these cars and trucks. Tough emission standards didn’t serve as a death-blow to auto sales in those states.

The same can be said for gas mileage standards.  DTRP wants to reduce mileage standards for vehicles, but that doesn’t mean consumers will race out to buy something new to drive. Consumers expect and demand good mileage, safety features, and low emissions.

Manufacturers couldn’t, and wouldn’t, retool their factories in an afternoon to produce gas-guzzling, dirty emission spewing cars just because the DTRP says it is ok. In fact, just two months ago, four manufacturers agreed to meet  continue to meet California’s vehicle standards.

A quick survey of the popularity of electric vehicles, hybrids, and high-efficiency gas fueled cars and trucks, would remind manufacturers that consumers want and expect cleaner running, higher mileage, vehicles. Both domestic and foreign car companies continue to offer best selling models with hybrid versions, and are also re-introducing retired versions of hybrids, because if they don’t, customers will drive past those dealerships on the way to others who offer what they want.

Donal Trump’s Republican Party can deny all kinds of reality and science, but car dealers won’t deny the reality of their bottom line. Profits are increasingly driven by consumers who buy cars using less or no gas, and emitting as little air pollutants as possible.

Car standards aren’t set at the White House any more; they are determined by consumers with their wallets in dealer showrooms and at gas pumps.

 

 

McConnell finds his voice

After weeks of political laryngitis on the government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) found the will to say that fellow Republican Rep Steve King (R-Iowa) should “find another line of work.”

During a recent interview lasting almost an hour, King said he doesn’t understand how white nationalist, pro Western civilization, and white supremacist language are offensive. Trump says he “hasn’t been following” the fallout over King’s most recent statements. Perhaps Trump’s lack of interest, or outrage, reflect his own comfort with King’s views?

Steve King
(Congressional photo)

In the mean time, King has been stripped of committee appointments by his own party. Without  committee assignments to craft and vote on bills as they are developed, King’s ability to robustly represent Iowa’s only Republican district in Congress has shrunk to hoping he can find anyone in his party to lobby for his district as bills move towards the House floor. James Clyburn, (D-South Carolina) will introduce a call to censure King in the House.

King has announced 39 district town hall meetings this year. I’m not sure those meetings, due to certain protests and counter-protests, will even happen. The country, and the world, will be watching.

What I’m reading about last night

What I’m reading about last night (link to the address is below from the New York Times):

WAPo: “In describing his bleak vision of a ruined United States exploited by foreigners, Mr. Trump wrote a series of checks he almost certainly cannot cash.”

The ugliest moment in the 60-minute address came when Mr. Trump announced the formation of an office on “Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement,” and then introduced families of people allegedly murdered by illegal immigrants. It was an appeal to raw prejudice and fear that will do nothing to promote the national unity he claims to be seeking. (emphasis added)

WAPO: Fact checking demonstrates that Trump continues to take credit for things he didn’t do, including the sourcing for DAPL pipeline materials

WaPo: Why any glow from last night won’t last very long

WaPo: The word you didn’t hear last night

NYT: Video of the address to Congress and NYT Washington correspondents comments and analysis during the speech and the Democratic response

NYT: Did Bannon and Miller talk Trump away from a pivot on immigration during lunch yesterday?

NYT: Five takeaways from last night’s speech

Jay Bookman at the Atlanta Journal Constitution on pouring money into the military,
“In short, this is not a carefully thought-out strategy from the Trump administration, based on consultation with the experts and our allies. Instead, the man who took five draft deferments to avoid fighting in Vietnam, the man who says that he knows better than the generals how to defeat ISIS and who claims he understands the military because he attended a military-themed boarding school, is offering a military strategy fueled largely by his own deep personal insecurities.”

Who isn’t in the room now?

Gen John Dunford, Jr. left, is the 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s highest-ranking military officer, and the principal military advisor to the President, Secretary of Defense, and National Security Council. Senator Dan Coats, right, has been nominated to serve as the next Director of National Intelligence.

The duties that the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence include participating in discussions and decision-making in the National Security Council.  Trump has decided that they don’t need to attend unless specifically asked. Their job every day, all day, is to protect our country. They’ve been told to wait in the hall.

Who will be attending National Security Meetings?

Steve Bannon, Trump’s strategist and former Breitbart Executive Director, said in august 2016,“Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

Trump’s strategist, Steve Bannon, who does not go through any confirmation process with the Senate, as Cabinet and other high-ranking officials are required to do, is now a member of the National Security Council. Two men with military and diplomatic experience were sent to the hallway to make room for Bannon.

What are Bannon’s politics in addition to anti-Semitic and misogynist views? In August of last year he told reporter Ronald Radosh,“Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” Trump is giving his chief strategist free rein to do that.

The millions of people who have filled our country’s streets, airports, Congressional offices, and jammed phone lines, are doing their part to protect the Constitution and our government from the hands of those who are determined to destroy all of it.

 

Calling his bluff

Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto refused to fall victim to Trump’s childish demand that Mexico pay for a wall that Trump insists on building on the Mexico-United States border. Instead of tolerating the behavior of a spoiled child, Neito said he’d just stay at home.

Every business threatened by Trump’s insistence that he would impose tariffs and taxes on them if they don’t do exactly what he wants, should be watching. If they are smart, they also know that Trump doesn’t have the authority to do that- Congress levies taxes and tariffs.

Bullying is breaking a good relationship with a continental ally. Will it prove to embolden American companies to follow their own course, leaving Trump to look like the fool he is proving himself to be?

The cancellation of this working meeting comes on the heels of senior State Department officials leaving their jobs en masse, according to the Washington Post.

Jay Bookman at the AJC has an outstanding column today on the first six days of Trump’s administration.

 

Nine points on Trump’s “press” conference

There were LOTS of things said during Trump’s “press conference” today that either conflict or contradict what he has said or Tweeted in the past, or were simply outrageous. A few of the highlights:

1. Trump made all kinds of claims about removing himself from any business conflicts, or rather his attorney did in an eye-glaze-over statement. He also said he could manage to run the government and his companies too.

2. The President-elect almost stomped his feet while trying to make CNN reporter Jim Acosta quit asking a question, finally resorting to “You’re fake news.”

3. Despite statements from Congressional Republicans that they aren’t prepared to repeal and replace ACA in the near future, Trump said all that would be happening soon.

4. He wants a report on hacking within 90 days from US intelligence agencies. Didn’t he get a report last Friday?

5. Trump asserted that, he “will be the greatest job producer that God ever created.” That’s a pretty bold statement. Will Trump singularly receive confirmation that he has hit that mark? Will it be Tweeted so everyone can see it? And what happens if things aren’t going well and God decides we need a course correction?

6. Only the media wants to see his tax returns. Um, no, lots of Americans want to see them.

7. Of his Cabinet choices, Trump said, “generally they are smart.” I sure wish he would identify the ones he thinks aren’t so smart.

8. Trump says the wall on the Mexican border will be built, and he isn’t willing to wait on the funding from Mexico. He wants American taxpayer dollars sunk into it now.

9. After a rambling event that included shouting at a reporter, Trump was asked what will happen if his sons don’t do well with running the family businesses. He gestured towards the stacks of papers that are supposed to demonstrate some type of disconnection between the President-elect and his businesses, and then, pointing to his sons, said, “You’re fired.”

Except Trump also said he won’t know what is happening with his family companies because his sons aren’t going to discuss them with him. How can Trump fire anyone if he is in the dark?

 

 

Judge by actions, not words

Kellyanne Conway, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, told CNN that people should stop judging the President-elect by his words, and instead judge him by his heart.

OK. Let’s use his actions as a measure of his heart.

Trump mocked a reporter who is physically disabled.

Beauty pageant contestants said he would walk into dressing rooms while they were nude and not excuse himself immediately.

The President-elect has been taken to court by contractors he refuses to pay.

He agreed to a settlement of $25M in lawsuits brought against the defunct Trump University including a penalty due to the state of New York for claiming to operate a “university” when it wasn’t one.

Trump cheated on his first wife, Ivana Trump, with the woman who became his second wife, Marla Maples.

Although he has five children, Trump refuses to do any of the physical care of his children.

Trump picked a fight with Khizi and Ghazala Kahn, whose son was killed in military action.

If we let Trump’s actions serve as the measure of his heart, that isn’t any more encouraging than his words or Tweets.

 

Being Present Redux

I thought the hardest day of 2016 was going to be the morning of November 9th. My eight year old grandson, who said a woman ought to have a chance at being president, called to ask me who won the election. I couldn’t choke back my tears. I guessed the worst thing I would do in 2016 was tell him that I was seeing a world I didn’t want for him.

I was wrong.

Less than a month later my 10 week old grandson, Brayer, suddenly stopped breathing, and his 26-year-old parents made the hard decision to remove him from life support.

Brayer
Brayer (the morning after waking his parents up every hour during the night)

There aren’t many hours left in 2016, but after putting part of  Christmas dinner in the oven on Sunday and walking down to the cemetery to find my daughter and son-in-law sitting by their infant son’s grave, well, 2016, I don’t have anything more to give, and those two young parents don’t either.

As November’s disappointments settled in, and the month of December has crept along, I find myself returning to a commitment I made in 2012, which was a promise to myself, and others, to Be Present in 2013.

As the election season sped up this year, I knew there would be lots of work ahead.  I didn’t think the work would be bare-knuckled battles against the Twitter-length ideas of a man with a really bad comb-over, scary illusions of his abilities, the temperament of a tired three-year old, and a failure to understand that facts are facts, regardless of whether they go along with what you believe or want for yourself.

My calendar has dates marked for Being Present. Events are easy because they require setting time aside in advance. The bigger challenge for me is Being Present in some capacity every day. It means living my values every day, and holding businesses, community leaders. elected officials, and their supporters, responsible for theirs. This is not the time to look away from hate, racism, intolerance, violence, and so many isms.

On November 9th I told my grandson Chase I will do my best to build a better world for his generation. I have to Be Present every day in 2017 to do that work. And in doing so, my hope is that the ragged edges of my heart will begin to mend too.