Swamp Thing: A Dangerous Political Landscape

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I saw a post on a friend’s face book page the other day from a non-mutual friend of theirs criticizing them for speaking out against what’s happening south of the border. Trump won in a Democratic election. Hilary lost. Shut up and get over it already.  Said the one Canadian to the other.

I know I can’t speak for that friend of mine, but….. um, no. No, I for one am not going to shut up.

For starters, I don’t really understand what is democratic about an election that saw the winner get almost 3 million votes less than the loser? Not that my refusal to shut up has anything to do with being a sore looser. It’s about right and wrong. Because silence in the face of injustice is the equivalent of agreeing with it.

So I’m sorry to those who are tired of hearing about all the social injustice in America and who just want to carry on with business as usual…if it makes you feel any better, I’m tired of it too.  I have friends from all walks of life, religious backgrounds, nationalities, colours and sexual orientations. So yeah, I’m not really stoked about what’s happening either.  Trust me.

But I’ll leave the realm of social injustice for the experts in that field..  my niche is the environment.  The majority of the chaos erupting around the newly elected Republican party leader seems like a nasty display of smoke and mirrors to me; a coordinated ruse to distract from environmental disaster that could have negative global ramifications. Because let’s face it, the new administration is full of frighteningly calculating, tyrannical businessmen whose bottom line revolves around the greenback.

Which begs the question… how the heck are they going to stay in power, let alone make any money by pissing off everyone who isn’t a white, racist, homophobic misogynist?

The answer is that they’re not.

By the way, if you aren’t at least somewhat appalled by what’s happening right now in American politics than you should consider you at least one of those things. And just to be clear – those are bad things. Very bad things.

Most competent businessmen understand that there is little financial gain in ordering mandates that are unconstitutional.  In fact, some might tell you that the only thing to be gained by such a blatant waste of energy and resources is a distraction.

Header - Quote by Charles de Secondat

The real crisis begins with the appointment of Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. This is a guy whose entire career has been built on taking money from energy corporations and using his influence to do their bidding.   Highlights of his career as Attorney General for Oklahoma include shutting down Oklahoma’s environmental enforcement unit, an agency whose primary purpose was to pursue violators of the state’s environmental laws.

Fun fact: In 2011, the year that Scott Pruitt was became Oklahoma’s Attorney General,  the number of earthquakes in the state measuring magnitude 3 or over  was 67. In 2015 there were a whopping 903 earthquakes that were stronger than magnitude 3.  Most of these earthquakes are caused by waste water produced by oil and gas extraction, the very industry that funds Scott Pruitt.

Other career highlights  of Scott Pruitt include suing the EPA 14 times… and according to this  article in the New York Times,  in 13 of those cases the co-parties included companies that had contributed money to Mr. Pruitt or to Pruitt-affiliated political campaign committees.

Needless to say, Pruitt’s nomination was met with some serious opposition. US senators were urged by environmental lawyers from Pruitt’s own state to reject his nomination.   Additionally, all ten Democratic senators on the committee tasked with considering his nomination as head of the EPA boycotted his hearing because they felt he had not provided adequate answers regarding his background. The Republicans, who boycotted President Obama’s appointee for the same position, went ahead and voted anyway.

Fun fact:  The Republican party has the largest majority in both houses of Congress than they have had since 1929.  They can pretty much do anything they want.  Like silence female senators for voicing an objection to appointing a homophobic racist as Attorney General. Or force votes in senate committees to push freakishly unqualified nominees through.

In case anyone is keeping score they’ve done both.

The day after Pruitt was approved by the Senate committee, Bill H.R. 861 titled “to terminate the Environmental Protection Agency” was introduced into the House of Representatives by Republican Matt Gaetz.

The White House’s plans for the EPA have been clear from the get go. Within hours after being sworn in, the President had the agency on lock down by suspending all environmental grants and contracts and putting a freeze on any new environmental rules. Then, information about climate change was removed from various pages of the State Department website.

Then, the world leader who is famous for his uncontrollable urge to tweet on a daily basis some of the most irrelevant things of any world leader in the history of the world, ordered the EPA to stop all outward communication. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture received similar gag orders. Employees were urged not to communicate through social media and content on linked accounts must now be reviewed before being published.

Fun Fact: The EPA, the HHS and the Department of Agriculture all conduct research on climate change.

The above agencies are also all responsible for keeping industries accountable for practices that could threaten the health of the general population.   These agencies use scientific facts (as opposed to alternative ones) as the basis for implementing and enforcing regulations.  For example, the EPA would use the data from the Geological survey of America to determine that the wastewater from oil and gas extraction is literally causing the earth to shake.  When the drinking water of a community becomes contaminated, it’s the EPA that would test that water for pollutants.

It can be expensive for companies to clean up their waste in a way that does not cause detriment to the rest of the world, so believe it or not dismantling the EPA would be a welcome outcome for a business man whose only allegiance is to the bottom line.

Still, of all the things the new administration feels the need to sensor… why science?  After all, a huge campaign promise made by the Republican leader was to expose government officials who used their influence for personal gain.  Why would the new administration, a group of scrupulous businessmen, want to control communication coming out of these agencies?

To me it’s a red flag the size of the state of Oklahoma.

Voltaire Quote

When I think about the brazen bullying and abuse of power that has been going on amidst the reality TV show that is American politics, I shudder to think about what might be happening behind a wall of silence.  When people whose job it is to look out for the well-being of their fellow countrymen are not allowed to speak about their work… that’s the end of democracy.

I don’t know about anybody else, but that swamp America just drained looks like its been hiding some mighty scary creatures.

I wonder how long the others will let the orange creature flounder.

And I wonder if there’s anything we can do to keep them from getting out.

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