The Scourge in the White House

Photograph Source: Ali Shaker/VOA – Public Domain

I would have no trouble defending myself and my loved ones: family and country. But under no circumstances would I employ corrupt practices to get ahead.

What bothers me constantly is the not so innocent highway to riches. Can people and corporations earn their money honestly and without violence? By violence I don’t necessarily mean the use of weapons. I mean deception, lies, and the bribing of politicians.

In the case of large farmers and agribusiness firms, violence becomes the extensive use of deleterious pesticides. These chemicals enter drinking water and food.

What is it that convinces some businessmen that hurting other countrymen or harming the natural world is fine? What about ethical standards of right and wrong, good and bad? If they break these unwritten rules and even written regulations and laws, can they sleep quietly at night? How do they justify doing harm?

Perhaps, they listen to economists who talk about this confusing thing they call externality. They assure polluters and governments that the natural world is an endless dump. If the pesticides of a farmer kill a million fish in a river, no problem. Fish don’t matter.

Large farmers and agribusiness companies have always being favored by legislators. They write the laws with giant loopholes, which large farmers traverse with their tractors. State and federal lawmakers probably reason they need to please Big Ag for potential campaign contributions. In addition, large food producers hire workers and probably pay taxes.

But laws protecting water are mindful of the deleterious effects of pesticides. They forbid the spraying of these poisons close to running water ending in the drinking water stored into groundwater aquifers, lakes, creeks, rivers. This means the owners of the land must spend some money for the protection of drinking water from their poisons.

If government agencies like the US Department of Agriculture, the Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior, and the US Environmental Protection Agency enforce the laws, the water we drink will probably be drinkable and of modest quality.

For our misfortunes, Americans elected Donald Trump for president. Equally bad, Congress, caught in the fear and fever of the Cold War and the invented “war on terror” of the George W. Bush administration in the first decade of the twenty-first century, has given the president the powers of a tyrant.

The combination of a bad man invested with tyrannical powers makes for a gigantic American tragedy.

The bad man is Trump. He is a selfish and corrupt businessman with no virtues for being president.

Ann Berndt, a friend from my early 1970s studies in the history of science at Harvard, described Trump:

“The scourge in the White House… with him at the helm, we are in the danger zone. A human cipher, he has recklessly, outrageously and cruelly placed us there. He is beyond redemption.”

The danger zone includes throwing Americans back to the era of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Reagan opened the gates of deregulation that made money for polluters but sowed disease and death for the rest of us. Now Trump is expanding the Reagan model: opening the spigots of pollution that earns profits to large farmers and corporations. However, such deregulatory practices leave distinct footprints of poisons flowing into drinking water.

Trump pushed the deregulation of every law protecting humans and the natural world from poisons, polluted air and dirty water. His administration targeted the Clean Water Act (protecting he waters of the United States). Like Reagan, he wants to satisfy his oligarchic constituency – the Chamber of Commerce regulars — and probably ingrained tyrannical tendencies.

Trump’s deregulations and mockery of climate change are unravelling the small public health and environmental protections the country won after decades of struggle against polluters.

And doing nothing about the awakening monster of climate change promises more destruction and death from storms, fires, drought, less food, environmental wars, political instability and diseases.

The Trump administration is actually stoking the violence of climate change. Deregulating the industry is increasing the amounts of US greenhouse gases reaching the atmosphere. The outrageous behavior of Trump is inspiring other little tyrants fighting for the narrow interests of petroleum and capitalism. The most extreme example is Jair Bolsonaro, president  of Brazil responsible for burning the Amazon.

Second, the Trump administration approved the clearcutting of 23,000 acres of old-growth trees in America’s largest forest, the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. In addition, it opened Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling.

Logic does not explain this provocative and destructive behavior and policy. I see hubris, superstition, and deep greed behind it. I blame Trump and his Republican Congressional allies for putting their ephemeral profits above the future of the country.

The climate change chaos now in effect promises severe and existential penalties for the generation of our children and grandchildren.

Berndt asked: “Where is the deus ex machina that will take the Abominable One off the stage?”

More articles by:

Evaggelos Vallianatos is a historian and environmental strategist, who worked at the US Environmental Protection Agency for 25 years. He is the author of 6 books, including Poison Spring with Mckay Jenkings.

January 16, 2020
Peter Harrison
The Wonders of Modern Life Briefly Explained: An Anthropology of the Industrial Revolution
Kenneth Surin
Politics and Business in Seattle
George Ochenski
Trump Dooms the Future by Gutting the National Environmental Policy Act
Kerron Ó Luain
The Longue Durée: Commemorating RIC and Black & Tan Colonialism
John Kendall Hawkins
False Profits and Anti-Christs™
Nick Licata
Climate Crisis: We Need Radical Change Now, Not in the Future
Binoy Kampmark
Short of Time: Julian Assange at the Westminster Magistrates Court
Norman Solomon
Biden, Buttigieg and Corporate Media Are Eager for Sanders and Warren to Clash
Daniel Warner
How Donald Trump Successfully Wagged the Dog, and More
Allegra Harpootlian
How the President Became a Drone Operator
Dean Baker
Another Geithner Scandal
Lawrence Davidson
Death by Illogic, Lies and Stupidity
January 15, 2020
Mark Schuller
Where is the Reporting on PetroCaribe?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Australia on the Chasm of Climate Catastrophe
Paul Edwards
American Murder
Gala Pin
City Problems: A Fairly True Barcelona Story
Richard Greeman
France at a Crossroads
Kenn Orphan
Missiles, Lies and Assassinations
Eleanor Eagan
Biden’s Unexamined List of High-Powered Fundraisers
Binoy Kampmark
Vague Imminence: US policy, Pre-emptive Force and Qasem Soleimani
Howard Lisnoff
Fifty Years and Still the Unrelenting Drumbeat of War
Thomas M. Magstadt
A Fine Republic, But Can We Keep It?  
Patrick Cockburn
Who Wins and Who Loses in the Iran Crisis?
Michael Welton
Traversed by Tensions: Quebec’s Religious Symbols Law
Stephen Cooper
Hey Los Angeles: More Public Restrooms, Please!
January 14, 2020
Kenneth Good
The Deadly Failures of Conservative Government in Australia in the Face of Ferocious Fires
Melvin Goodman
Trump’s Latest Debacle: an Incompetent and Deceitful National Security Team
Thomas S. Harrington
An Interview with Embattled Catalan President Quim Torra
John Feffer
The 40 Year Cold War With Iran
Ron Jacobs
Iranian Opposition—1970s to 2020
Yoav Litvin
Zionism and ‘Anti-Semitism’: A Chronicle of a Smear Foretold
Patrick Cockburn
Demonizing the Shia: How the West Perpetuates False Claims About Iran’s Regional Influence
Cathy Breen
And We Allow This Madness to Continue
Ramzy Baroud
Justice at Last? ‘Panic’ in Israel as the ICC Takes ‘Momentous Step’ in the Right Direction
Sam Husseini
Biden’s Pack of Lies About the Iraq War
Nicolas J S Davies - Medea Benjamin
10 Ways Trump’s Actions Against Iran Hurt Americans and the Region
Philip Doe
The Pretend Administration:  Colorado Governor Polis and Fracking
Ellen Brown
The Fed Protects Gamblers at the Expense of the Economy
David Swanson
Charlottesville City Council Passes Resolution Against War on Iran
January 13, 2020
Gabriel Rockhill
Understanding France’s General Strike in the Context of the Yellow Vests and Global Class Warfare
Sheldon Richman
Trump’s Escalation Imperils Innocents
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
A Call to Catholics: Let Us End Our Complicity in War
Ramzy Baroud
Embracing Palestine: How to Combat Israel’s Misuse of “Antisemitism”
Harry Blain
The Useless War Powers Act
Helen Yaffe
Farewell to Two Cuban Revolutionaries: Faure Chomón and Harry (‘Pombo’) Villegas