Tag Archives: Donald Trump

You Must Read—What You are Getting Wrong about Appalachia

9780998904146.jpgNot since Jon Krakauer disemboweled Greg Mortenson in Three Cups of Deceit has an author gone quite for the jugular of a popular book like Elizabeth Catte does in What You are Getting Wrong about Appalachia.  The target of her ire is J.D. Vance and his uber popular Hillbilly Elegy.

The word Appalachia is really a code word for the dog whistle politics of the right wing.  It conjures all sorts of images of humble working class folk wronged by the liberal politicians of the coastal states.  Too bad this is all just a bunch of bullshit and Catte calls people like Vance to the carpet for perpetuating simplistic stereotypes for financial gain.  Make no mistake, Vance has sold whatever credibility and authenticity he had to being “Appalachian” long ago.  Please, do not take my word for it.  Read this excerpt from page 93:

Vance is a well-educated person of means with a powerful platform who has chosen to accept a considerable amount of fame and wealth to become a spokesperson for the region.  Since he is such an enormous fan of personal responsibility, I am thrilled to hold him responsible for his asinine beliefs and associations.  Appalachian blogger Kelli Haywood, in her essays on Elegy, objects to the individuals who claim that Vance isn’t authentically Appalachian because he migrated outside the region.  I don’t give a damn about geography, but I’ll not that Vance has transcended one of the most authentically Appalachian experiences of them all: watching someone with tired ideas about race and culture get famous by selling cheap stereotypes about the region.

Damn.  J.D. Vance is really just a road side carnival barker selling the United States at large on a drive by tourism of tired Appalachian tropes.

Here’s the thing: Catte is spot on in her criticism.  We, as a nation and especially the media, would like nice and neat narratives about regions like Appalachia because it allows us to fool ourselves into a sense of cultural complacency.  Appalachia is poor and dependent upon extractive industries for whatever economic good fortune might trickle its way.  Iowa is rural and the price of corn or soybeans is the single most important economic indicator on any given day.  Oklahoma is run by the oil and gas lobby…oh wait, that one is probably true.

You get the idea.  We want Appalachia to be easy to understand because it makes our own communities easier to understand.  It is not easy to grapple with an Appalachia that was and, to some degree, remains a place where radical workers reside and resistance to coal companies, as opposed to the assumed subservience, was a hallmark of the holler.  It is not easy to imagine an Appalachia that is increasingly diverse as African Americans and Hispanic populations grow while the Caucasian population declines.  God forbid we try to wrap our minds around an Appalachia that contains members of the LGBTQ community.  Whoa nelly!

Appalachia is America and the sooner we realize that truth is the sooner that we become a better country.

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Are Baby Boomers Evil?

This weekend I finished Bruce Cannon Gibney’s Generation of Sociopaths How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America.  I hesitate to recommend the book as a “must read” because it’s point is somewhat repetitive throughout the course of the book making it seem more like a personal attack on an entire generation rather than a statistically backed takedown of an entire generation.  In fact, you could make the case that the book is both of those things at the same time depending upon where you are at in your reading.

Nevertheless, I believe that the core tenant of the book—America’s problems are, fundamentally, caused by the selfish behavior of the Baby Boomer generation—bears some consideration as we muddle through the second year of the presidency of someone who the Baby Boomers basically elected.

In essence, I believe the story can begin and end with Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the presidency.  Donald Trump is a Baby Boomer having been born in 1946 at the beginning of the cohort born from approximately 1943 through approximately 1964.  He represents all of the worst characteristics of the generation—narcissism, aversion to authority other than that derived from their own person, indifference to facts or expertise, hostile to criticism, inability to consider sacrifice, lack of empathy, and so on.  You even get some of the other characteristics like divorce, love of television, taste for fast food, and an attraction to ostentatious displays of affluence.  It is as if the Baby Boomers decided to create a 151 proof version of all of their bad traits and put that person in the White House.

Baby Boomers are even to blame for this man’s election.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the voting statistics behind the 2016 election by demographic cohorts.  Older, white males who identified as conservative loved Donald Trump.  Basically, you Uncle Carl who likes to get lit at Thanksgiving and tell everyone at the table that America is going to hell elected the worst president in modern memory.  Knowing Baby Boomers the generational cohort will likely take no blame and pin the result on everyone but themselves.  Good lord!

But why did Baby Boomers elect Donald Trump over another member of their generation?  Do you remember the move The American President?  Toward the end of the movie President Andrew Shepherd, played by Michael Douglas, excoriates his political nemesis Bob Rumson, played by Richard Dreyfuss:

We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things, and two things only: Making you afraid of it, and telling you who’s to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle age, middle class, middle income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family and American values and character and you wave an old photo of the president’s girlfriend and you scream about patriotism. You tell them she’s to blame for their lot in life. And you go on television and you call her a whore.

If that does not sound like the playbook of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign I do not know what does.  It is like he saw the movie, the man likes his television, and said, “I got it.  I will be just like Bob Rumson!”  Add in Fox News, Twitter, and a Russian connection…you get the idea.

While we can place blame for the election of Donald Trump on a lot of different factors with baby boomer support being just one, I think the special election for Senate in Alabama was a more insightful example.  By all accounts, the Republican candidate for the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions should have been elected in a cakewalk over any Democrat, unless Nick Saban decided to run for the office as a Democrat.  However, the Republican party put forth Roy Moore, Jr. as a candidate because when it’s primary season you never know what kind of crazies are going to make the ballot.  Just ask Virginia’s state GOP how that is going.

When all the voting was done Roy Moore, Jr. lost to Doug Jones in a fairly close election.  Given the outlandish nature of Roy Moore, Jr. as a politician, judge, and basic human being it should have been a disaster for the GOP.  What happened?  Makes supported Roy Moore, Jr. 56 to 42 according to exit pools.  Even more telling was that people over the age of 45 supported Roy Moore, Jr. by a large margin.  The exit polling from this race is just fascinating. You can disagree with policies all day long but when you cast your vote for a man with no regard for the law who happens to be a serial pedophile just because he is a Republican you are evil.  Thank god that African Americans, women in particular, turned out in force for Doug Jones and saved our democracy the spectacle that could have been.

Sorry baby boomers, but the evidence is starting to make me agree with Bruce Cannon Gibney and I did not want to do that.  The challenge facing us is to sweep aside this generation of leaders and put people in place who actually want to solve problems as opposed to ensuring that largesse continues to flow.

Friday Linkage 5/25/2018

Free your Sundays.  As well as your Monday and Thursday nights.  Free yourself from the craven piss babies who are NFL owners and NFL “leadership” who have caved to the base elements of their fan base and Donald Trump.  Nothing says conscience of America quite like a thrice divorced, porn star spanking, man baby who likes to wrap himself in the viscera of patriotism despite his well-documented history of being physically incapable of serving in the military during the Vietnam War.

The entire issue around the anthem protests has been a dog whistle for extreme white wing.  Well compensated, majority African American males making a statement about well document injustice at the hands of police is just too much.

Well, this kowtowing to the Fox News and Alex Jones contingent of our society is too much.  I am done with the NFL.  Forever.

On to the links…

The Efficiency Myth—Along with trickle down economics I would love to forever banish the conservative edict that the private sector is always more efficient than the public sector.  It is not true.

EPA Bans CNN, AP from Covering Summit on Chemicals, ‘Forcibly’ Removes Reporter—This is what transparency and “draining the swamp” looks like under Donald Trump.  It is a government run with the singular goal of enriching the plutocrats and screwing over anyone else.

Park Service Releases Complete Climate Change Report—Climate change is real.  Human beings are the primary driver.  It is going to mess up a lot of stuff.  Despite what Ryan Zinke and Scott Pruitt want you to believe this is the reality.

Recreation is Redefining the Value of Western Public Lands—The value of the lands of the United States are not just measured in the amount of oil, gas, and minerals that can be extracted.  This runs counter to the narrative of clowns like Ryan Zinke, but the facts—oh those pesky facts—show a reality that people do enjoy these lands for the recreational value is available.

This Could Be A Clever Fix For The Biggest Climate Problem—Refrigeration and the energy use it requires is a big problem in any climate change mitigation scenario.  To combat climate change we need to reduce the energy needed to cool ourselves and our food.

Northeastern States Band Together, Develop a Unified EV Charge Network—Take a densely populated area, add an EV charging network that uses the same technology across the geographic area, and…BAM!…you have the recipe for increasing the adoption rate of EVs in the Northeastern United States.

A 100% Renewable Grid Isn’t Just Feasible, It’s Already Happening—At first they said that the grid could not handle 5% renewables and then it became 10%.  Every year that number has to get revised upward because the grid can handle it.

The Netherlands Announces Ban On Coal, Plans To Close 2 Power Plants By 2024—Every day there is at least some good news.

Lawns Are an Ecological Disaster—If there was one thing that I wish we would do en masse in the United States it would be to rip out the acres and acres of lawn that cover our landscape.  This is a landscape that provides little to no visual interest.  It provides little to no habitat for wildlife.  It is a suck for time, energy, and chemicals.  Most people do not actually like mowing the lawn.  Remind me again why we have lawns?

Harley-Davidson took its tax cut, closed a factory, and rewarded shareholders—This is what a $1.4 TRILLION tax cut gets you.  Harley Davidson may be in a lot of trouble as its core customers begin to age out of pretending to be bad ass biker guys.  That has not stopped the company from increasing its dividend and buying back stock.  It’s all about maximizing shareholder value and screwing over anyone who gets in the way of profiteering.

How Much Will West Coast Snowfall Decrease In The Next 80 Years?—If you love snow you are screwed:

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The Last (Hopefully) Scott Pruitt Linkage 4/12/2018

Now that Trump is on to firing missiles at Syria after he fired his mouth off on Twitter—because nothing says surprise like broadcasting military action on a social media platform—we are probably stuck with Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA through the weekend.

On the other hand, the great cheese puff may decide to alleviate some of the pressure in Washington D.C. by jettisoning Pruitt.  When everything is a dumpster fire I am not sure that firing the most corrupt official in your administration qualifies as progress, but I digress.

On to the Scott Pruitt themed links…

Why Trump Has Scott Pruitt’s Back—Trump likes Pruitt because he is like mini-me at the EPA.  Once Pruitt begins to take any spotlight from the head cantaloupe than heads will roll.

Scott Pruitt is the Face of America’s Big Problem—The uber rich have corrupted our government by buying and paying for soulless toadies like Scott Pruitt to plunder America for the gain of a few.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt Has Met With Dozens Of Campaign Donors—Do you need proof about who “owns” Scott Pruitt?  Just peruse the list of campaign donors he has met with and tie that to specific actions taken by the prince of payola.

Did Scott Pruitt’s EPA Lie About Death Threats Against Him?—The justification for the first class travel, bulletproof desks, and around the clock security detail was that Scott Pruitt received death threats.  Was that a lie all along?  Sure looks like it.

Scott Pruitt’s Lie about Pay Raises Unravels, Emails Reveal he was Behind Scheme All Along—Is anyone really surprised that Scott Pruitt lied about the pay raises for his cronies?

EPA Chief Of Staff Takes Fall For Raises, Claims Pruitt Unaware Despite Emails—There is always a fall guy or gal if you are powerful enough to have top cover.  Too bad the scandals are deeper than just pay raises.

Even the EPA Can’t Defend Scott Pruitt’s Expensive Travel and Security—You know it’s bad when staffers just sort of shrug their shoulders and say, “I don’t know, reasons?”

EPA Chief Scott Pruitt’s Sleaze is Pitiful and Disgusting, but his Lies on Climate Change are Lethal—There are real consequences of just the past year or so of Scott Pruitt’s reign as America’s fossil fuel toady in chief.  Pruitt lied and people will die.

Administrator Pruitt Opened the Door to Making Houston’s Air Toxics Problem Worse—If you pollute the air and water you have no better friend in the world right now than Scott Pruitt.  He does not even care about making it appear like he is trying to protect anything other than his paymasters’ pocketbooks.

Scott Pruitt’s Guiding Philosophy is ‘Cooperative Corporatism,’ Per Senator—The idea here is simple.  Push enforcement down to the state level because states like Oklahoma and Louisiana will do little to actually police industry.  Unless, of course, the state might have an adversarial relationship with industry, like say California—which in that case calls for federal primacy of enforcement.

If Scott Pruitt Gets Fired From the EPA, This Coal Lobbyist Will Take His Place—Could Andrew Wheeler be worse than Scott Pruitt?  Sure, but he probably does not have the lifelong boner to gut the EPA quite like the corrupt Pruitt does.  On the other hand, what are the odds that he is more incompetent and/or corrupt than Pruitt?  This is the Trump administration after all.

Right back at ya’ buddy!

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A Very Special Scott Pruitt Edition Linkage 4/9/2018

I am surprised, not shocked as some are, that Scott Pruitt still has a job.  I thought the axe might come over the weekend with him announcing that he was resigning to make more time for his family or some such bullshit.  Instead, we get the vote of confidence from the head cheese puff. 

What is going on over the past few days in Scott Pruitt’s land of never ending corruption…

Under Pruitt, EPA’s Sloppy Effort to Gut Eco-Rules gets Headlines, but is Faring Poorly in Court—Basically, the upside of the Trump presidency has been that the relative incompetence and lack of understanding about how government works means that a lot of the actions taken will not stand up to any kind of formal legal challenge.  Big daddy Donny likes headlines, but he is light on actual results.

Scott Pruitt’s Level of Corruption is so High, it Even Shocks the Lobbyists Paying Him Off—Even the lobbyists who are paying him off are shocked by the level of greed and flat out corruption this man is capable of.

Tribalism put Scott Pruitt in Power. It May not be Enough to Save Him.—Pruitt is a creature of the swamp, but even his antics may make it expedient for Trump to dump him thus claiming some measure of ethical responsibility.

5 Lies Scott Pruitt Told this Week about his Mounting Scandals—It is obvious that no one in the Trump administration understands the microscope of the office.  These people cannot shut up to save themselves.

Scott Pruitt, Fan of Taxpayer-Funded First Class Travel, Flies Coach When he has to Pay for It—He is in such mortal danger that on the few times that he has to actually pay for his own travel he flies coach.  Wait a second…

Pruitt Faces Renewed Questions Over Cost of Security Detail—Let this sink in for a bit—19 agents on a 24 hour security detail and a fleet of 19 vehicles.  This is for the head of the EPA.

Pruitt’s Revealing View on Lights and Sirens—Big boy Pruitt likes to think he is so important and in danger that he needs to run around Washington D.C. with the lights and sirens blazing even if he is just late to dinner.  This is what passes for leadership in Trump’s America.

Scott Pruitt Hasn’t Saved Taxpayers Anything—The logic of Pruitt’s defenders here is amazing.  They are trying to justify his corruption by claiming that he has saved money through his deregulation.  WTF?

And, just so you remember that Scott Pruitt is not the only horrible person in Washington D.C. remember this guy:

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Rep. Blake Farenthold is the one in the ducky pajamas.

Rep. Blake Farenthold Resigns from Congress. He Still Owes Us $84K. 

Friday Linkage 11/10/2017

Any time one of your elected officials says that regulations supporting clean air and water are unnecessary offer to buy him or her a one way ticket to New Delhi.  Breathe in deep:

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On to the links…

Why Is America Wasting So Much Energy?—If we wanted to the United States could cut its energy consumption without materially impacting the quality of daily life.  How?  Energy efficiency.  However, we live in a country where elected officials literally fight to maintain outdated technologies like incandescent lightbulbs on the shelves despite being shown significantly better alternatives.  Why?  I am sure it will come down to freedom and some other right wing word soup.

America’s Pathetic Autocrat—We have come to a point where the thing that is keeping America somewhat whole is that the Trump administration is the single most incompetent presidential administration in recorded history.

The New Coal Crisis—Everyone with half a brain and an interest in good health knows that coal is a public health problem.  Burning coal puts bad stuff in the air, mining coal scars the land, and the remainders left behind by coal combustion foul the water.  How could the Trump administration get behind such a dirty fuel?

Powerful Lawmaker who Wants to ‘invalidate’ the Endangered Species Act is Getting Close—The right wing is in the last throes of its ectasy from the Trump victory and is hoping to lodge a few more grenades in the direction of progress before the United States wakes up to the realization that Republicans are really just gangsters or robber barons.

Rick Perry’s Strange Sex Story—Just when you thought that it was impossible for Rick Perry to do something even more stupid than something he had done in the past…he, well, opens his mouth to speak.  This might be the crowning achievement of his public career.

Extreme Athletes Are Braving the Harshest Environments on Earth For Science—In the absence of actual science being done by organizations charged with the practice, e.g. the EPA under Scott “I Like Oil, A Lot” Pruitt, citizen scientists are trying to fill in some of the void.

He Was a Professional Climate Denier. Then He Switched Sides.—These people are paid well to lie to the public.

Cost of Wind keeps Dropping, and There’s Little Coal, Nuclear can do to Stop It—The market has spoken.  The people have spoken.  Coal and nuclear can fight a rearguard action for a few years, maybe even a decade, but there is little that can be done to stop the march of history and progress.

The Zombie Diseases of Climate Change—If the idea of smallpox, frozen in polar tundra for centuries, does not frighten you consider that an outbreak of smallpox would probably make preppers’ nightmares come true.

Four Dams in the West are Coming Down — A Victory Wrapped in a Defeat for Smart Water Policy—The irony is that this is something that all parties wanted, but Congress just stepped on its own dick again by not finishing the proper authorizations to complete the process.

Add Cargo Shipping to the List of Industries Contributing to Global Warming—This is why one of the most powerful things you can do for the planet is to stop buying crap.  Why?  The global supply chain is dirty as hell.

Thousands of Idled, Dirty Railroad Cars Are Littering the American Landscape—The irony is that if these railroad cars were parked in urban areas where people could actually see them I am sure that something would be done.  This is regardless of them sitting on private property.

Richard Branson is Planning to Rebuild the Caribbean with Clean Energy—I will believe it when I see it.  I have a feeling that there will be beautiful solar panels on vacation homes and resorts, but nothing for the people who actually live and work on these islands.

The Ecolabel Fable—This is why I believe that knowing your producers, e.g. local providers, is more important than trusting a label.  Sure, I cannot know my coffee producer in Eastern Iowa so I will have to rely on a label but I can know who raises the pigs for bacon and the chickens for eggs.

How Flawed Science Helped turn Chocolate into a Health Food—It’s like those links promising the beer diet. Sad.  Fake news!

Friday Linkage 11/3/2017

Could Washington D.C. be a bigger shit show right now?  Just when you think that American democracy has hit a new low, Donald J. Trump and his sycophants come out with some new affront to decency.  At what point do people look around and tally up the damage done—Russia, cronyism, nepotism, money laundering, and the list goes on for sure?  Is it 2018 yet?

On to the links…

This One Quote Shows What Angry White Guys Mean when They Talk About Government Overreach—Nothing says America like making a truck belch thick plumes of diesel smoke.  Oh wait, nothing says ‘Merica quite like the practice of rolling coal.  My bad.  The sooner that politicians stop pandering to this segment of society the sooner we can move on to a more advanced phase of our development as a country.

The Trump Administration Is Teeming With Climate-Change Deniers—It is like Donald Trump sat down with his chief of staff and asked, “Can you find me the biggest sack of sorry ass climate deniers to staff my administration with because…fake news.  Sad.  Isn’t Ivanka amazing?”

Scott Pruitt Is Using the Bible as His Guide for Reorganizing EPA’s Science Boards—If you thought it could not get worse, it usually does with the Trump administration.  I always wonder why these guys manage to peel out the parts of the Bible that they like without actually having to follow all of its prescriptions like, say, not eating shrimp.  Just consider this list of things “banned” in Leviticus.

Scandals Pile up for Interior Secretary—Sam Clovis did not even get to assume his post, so maybe we can now focus on the organizational dumpster fire that is Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.  We’ve got campaign finance chicanery, disaster relief scandals, plane scandals, and a whole bag full of other crap.

Global Solar Market Demand Expected To Reach 100 Gigawatts In 2017—What does 100 GW mean?  It would be a 30% increase over what was installed in 2016.  This makes solar the fastest growing form of energy in the world.

US Wind Energy Pipeline Nears 30 Gigawatts—This is not 30 GW worldwide, but 30 GW just in the United States.  Suck it coal.

Trump Admin. Desperate To Keep Coal Power Plant Alive With Taxpayer Dollars—It is not and it never was about the free market.  Trump’s obsession with coal goes back to his need for adoration and coal barons are always ready to give Trump the love because he is their last hope.  The market does not love them.  The utilities do not love them.  Trump does love him some coal.

Italy To Phase Out Coal By 2025—Another one bites the dust.

Electric Buses are Coming, and They’re Going to Help Fix 4 Big Urban Problems—If I had to put my money behind the electrification of transportation in America I would start with buses and garbage trucks.  There are few vehicles I see that could benefit from the advantages of an electric drivetrains and getting black smoke billowing diesel engines out of our cities would be a good thing.

Vikings Razed the Forests. Can Iceland Regrow Them?—The moral of this story is that it is hard to undo damage.  Especially when that damage occurred over a thousand years ago and your country happens to be a volcanic hot zone.  It does not mean, however, that you do not try.

If You Care About Cleantech, You Have To Change Your Diet—There are few more impactful things you can do in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than changing your diet to one that does not feature meat or other animal products.

Why You Shouldn’t Exercise to Lose Weight, Explained with 60+ Studies—You are what you eat.  Literally.  It does however make sense for you to exercise to be healthy.  There is nothing more liberating than following an exercise regimen to reach a goal that is not weight specific.  The scale is no longer your enemy.  It’s just another diagnostic tool.