Who’s the best person to lead us through a world being destroyed by climate change? Science knows.

Today, as deadly wildfires raged on the west coast, Joe Biden released a statement saying, “The science is clear, and deadly signs like these are unmistakable — climate change poses an imminent, existential threat to our way of life.” Donald Trump, in California to survey the damage, chose not to blame climate change, but the failure of our western states to properly manage their forests, removing fallen trees that, according to him, can just “explode.” This isn’t anything new for Trump, who has claimed in the past that fires like these could be stopped if only states raked their forests more aggressively, apparently not understanding that we’re talking about millions of acres of forest, a vast majority of which isn’t owed by individual states, but by the federal government, which he happens to preside over.

I shouldn’t have to say this, but our problem isn’t that the liberals in California didn’t rid their forests of exploding trees. No, the problem is that this has been the hottest summer ever recorded in the northern hemisphere, and, as a result, our forests are drier, and more susceptible to burning. It is simply a fact that climate change has more than doubled the number of large fires in the western U.S. since 1984, and all the climate denying in the world cannot change that… Are there forest management practices that might mitigate the effects of climate change to some extent? I’m sure there are. But that’s not the core issue. The core issue is that our forests have grown progressively drier due to climate change, and, as a result, a good portion of our country is on fire right now, as Donald Trump and the Republicans continue to lie about what’s happening.

Donald Trump said today, “I don’t think science knows actually,” when talking about the west coast fires. Joe Biden responded like you would expect a President of the United States to respond. “Science knows,” he said. And he’s absolutely right. We know exactly what’s happening and why. It’s not a mystery. We’ve known for decades. We’ve just refused to take action because too many people — like those in the very lucrative oil and gas industry — have had too much to lose, and because people who hold elected office aren’t incentivized to take bold (and costly) action when the positive results of said action likely won’t be seen for decades. So, as a result, we’ve continued to kick the can down he road for someone else to deal with. And now the world is literally on fire.

It’s not as striking as footage of the orange sky over Portland, but I thought the following clip pretty well summed up where were we are as a nation right now.

In spite of everything we see unfolding around us, there are still some, like Donald Trump, who would deny the reality of what we’re observing. Thankfully, though, we don’t need everyone. All we need is enough to put Biden in office and change the composition of the Senate. And we have that within our grasp. It won’t be easy, but we’ve actually got a shot come Election Day, thanks to everyone over the past several decades who helped push Biden and the Democratic Party to where they are today, to elect a political party into power that champions science, calls for environmental justice, and promises to enact a Green New Deal.

The choice could not be more clear, America.

On one hand, we have the “climate arsonist” Donald Trump:

And on the other we have Joe “Science Knows” Biden:

Do the right thing, America. This very well may be our last chance.

Posted in Environment, Global Warming, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 169 Comments

That’s it. I’m making my first contribution to the Biden campaign.

It’s great that Joe Biden — who, despite what you might have heard from Donald Trump, is not hiding in his basement — appears to be pulling ahead in the polls as we’re entering the last 50 days of the race. We cannot afford, however, to take anything for granted. It’s difficult to believe, given the fact that Donald Trump knowingly lied about the severity of COVID-19 and 198,520 Americans are now dead as a result, but some people, for whatever reason, still enthusiastically support him.

I’d thought, when I read a month or so ago that the Trump campaign had stopped buying ads here in Michigan, that we’d turned some kind of corner. I took it to mean that Trump’s internal polling had determined that there was no way possible that the men and women of Michigan would repeat the mistake of 2016. [Trump won Michigan by just .3% of the vote in 2016.] But now it seems as though, the Trump campaign is pouring money back into the state. Most polls are showing Biden up by 5% to 10% here in Michigan, but polls right before the 2016 election showed Clinton up by 2% to 5% over Trump in the state, and we all know how that turned out. We cannot afford to think — even for a minute — that our neighbors who supported Donald Trump in 2016, won’t do the same thing again. There may not be as many “Trump” yard signs this year as there were back then, but there’s no reason to think that we’ve somehow turned a corner.

I, of course, knew all of this… at least in theory. I knew I should be working harder for the Biden campaign, and contributing financially. But, until just now, I hadn’t really done anything of substance, outside of posting here. Then I read this new piece in the Economist — in which one of their writers interviewed workers at a construction site in Ohio — and it scared me into action. Here’s an excerpt.

Not one word of this, as you likely know, is true. Trump didn’t reduce the national debt. [He grew it by $8.3 trillion.] Trump didn’t “get health care done.” [In spite for promising for four years that he’d be rolling out a “terrific,” “phenomenal” and “fantastic” new plan that would insure everyone, he’s never come forward with a plan of his own to replace Obamacare.] And, he didn’t build his ridiculous wall. [It looks as though just 16 miles of new fencing has got up along our 1,954 mile long southern border under his watch.] Oh, and Donald Trump didn’t force China to pay U.S. farmers anything. [It was us, the U.S. taxpayers, who bailed out America’s farmers, after Trump got us into a trade war with China that ended up costing the U.S. agricultural industry billions of dollars.]

Anyway, this is what finally got me to open up my wallet and send something to the Biden campaign. If you would like to join me, please click here.

Also, if all goes according to plan, I will be working for the campaign over these next 50 days. I just signed up.

As luck would have it, I’m about to become unemployed, after working 21 years with the same company, freeing me up to knock on doors, make calls, and do whatever else might be needed here in Ypsi, where we need to be sure that we get every vote possible in order to counter those that Trump will be getting in towns like Freeland, where he held a rally (with no masks and no social distancing) a few days ago.

Posted in Mark's Life, Michigan, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 187 Comments

Trump admits to Bob Woodward on tape that he knew how deadly COVID-19 was, yet decided to “play it down” to the American people

Since being named the best writer in Washtenaw County a few days ago, I’ve been in a bit of a funk. I’d written something last night about a piece of artwork that I’d recently acquired depicting an early human ancestor eating an oyster for the first time, and my plan to hang it in the bathroom of the new restaurant I just helped open, but then it occurred to me that what I’d written, which, for some reason, was full of profanity, likely wasn’t befitting our region’s “best” writer. So I sat back and waited for Donald Trump to do something noteworthy that I could wax poetic about. And, thankfully, I didn’t have to wait too long, as news broke that Donald Trump was intending to use the Department of Justice to defend him against the charge of rape. But, then, as I was writing about the allegations brought against the President by journalist E. Jean Carroll, and the unprecedented moves by Attorney General William Barr to have the DOJ intercede on Trump’s behalf, this happened.

That’s right… Audio was released today of Donald Trump telling journalist Bob Woodward on February 7 of this year that he was well aware of COVID-19 being extremely “deadly,” and much worse than the flu, while he was, at the very same time, intentionally misleading the American people as to the seriousness of the disease…. something which he admitted to Woodward in a later, March 19 conversation, which was also recorded. “I wanted to always play it down,” the President can be heard saying.

As of today, COVID-19 — the virus that Donald Trump assured us repeatedly was relatively harmless has left 195,239 Americans dead. And we now know that it was a conscious decision on his part to “play down” the risk, likely because he thought it would be his personal advantage. [Let’s remember this is also the man who disbanded the pandemic response team within the National Security Council and shut down the international pandemic preparedness program charged with the “detection and discovery of zoonotic diseases at the wildlife-human interface.”] How it is that the American people are not, at this very minute, dragging him from the White House, is absolutely beyond me. He not only created the circumstances so that the virus could get a foothold, but, once it was spreading, he consciously made the decision to lie about how deadly it was, so that it could sweep across the United States. And now nearly 200,000 of our friends and relatives are dead.

In an attempt to defend the indefensible, Donald Trump today said that he played down the threat of COVID-19 because he “(didn’t) want people to be frightened” or “create panic”. This, of course, is bullshit. Trump, as we know, is all about stoking fear. Just listen to one of his speeches about imaginary caravans of diseased, South American gang members headed toward our boarder, or read what he’s had to say about the death and destruction that awaits us should Joe Biden and his Antifa overlords find their way to power. It’s true that he didn’t want incite panic in this instance, but it was the potential of panic on Wall Street that he was thinking about. He didn’t care about working men and women. He didn’t care about the public health of American citizens. If he did, he would have urged people to wear masks, and told what he knew to be true early on, which is that the virus is airborne, and 5-times more deadly than the flu. If he’d done that, and urged Americans to wear masks at the outset, and listen to public health professionals, tens of thousands of Americans would still be alive today. He didn’t, though. He prioritized the stock market, thinking that the secret to reelection was the economy, and now nearly 200,000 Americans are dead. This is the price we’ve paid for electing a narcissistic conman to office. And one hopes we never forget it.

If you haven’t already, please like and share this video from the Lincoln Project… and make sure everyone you know is registered to vote. Now is our chance to set this right, America.

Posted in Health, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 200 Comments

A big “thank you” to all those who died in the Chicago rail yards so that we might have the day off to grill hot dogs… Happy Labor Day

I know it’s probably cheating, but here’s something that I posted over a decade ago on the occasion of Labor Day. If anything, I think it’s even more appropriate today, seeing as how Michigan has since become a so-called “right to work” state, and we now how have an unquestionably anti-worker administration running our country.


As some of you probably know, Labor Day was first celebrated here in the United States in 1882. It wasn’t, however, made a national holiday until 1894, in the wake of a bloody strike by employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company, an Illinois-based manufacturer of luxury rail cars. It all began when the company, after having cut the wages of workers across the board by as much as 25%, refused to reduce the rent charged to these same workers, who lived and worked in the company town of Pullman, Illinois. And, from there, the strike spread throughout the railroad industry… The following extended clip comes from the Kansas Heritage Group:

…The strike went peacefully, but after several weeks the Pullman management had not changed its position and the strikers were desperate for aid. During the strike, the American Railway Union had convened in Chicago because it was the rail center of the United States. The recently formed American Railway Union had 465 local unions and claimed the memberships of 150,000 workers. Since, the Pullman workers were an affiliated union on strike in Chicago the ARU offered to send arbitrators for the Pullman cause. The Pullman workers refused this aid, even so the ARU under the leadership of Eugene Debs decided to stop handling Pullman cars on June 26 if the Pullman Union would not agree to arbitration. The stage was set for the largest strike in the nation’s history.

On June 26, the ARU switchmen started to refuse to switch trains with Pullman cars. In response, the General Managers Association began to fire the switchmen for not handling the cars. The strike and boycott rapidly expanded, paralyzing the Chicago rail yards and most of the twenty-four rail lines in the city.

On July 2 a federal injunction was issued against the leaders of the ARU. This Omnibus Indictment prevented ARU leaders from “…compelling or inducing by threats, intimidation, persuasion, force or violence, railway employees to refuse or fail to perform duties…” This injunction was based on the Sherman anti-trust act and the Interstate commerce act and was issued by federal judges Peter S. Grosscup and William A. Woods under the direction of, Attorney General, Richard Olney. The injunction prevented the ARU leadership from communicating with their subordinates and chaos began to reign.

Governor Altgeld of Illinois had been hesitant to employ the state militia to put down the strike instead relying on the local authorities to handle the situation. However, he said he would use the National Guard to protect property. Above all Governor Altgeld did not want federal troops to intervene. However, the issuing of this federal injunction and the fact that mail-trains might be delayed caused President Grover Cleveland to send in federal troops from Fort Sheridan. On July 3, Federal troops entered Chicago against Governor Altgeld’s repeated protests. Governor Altgeld protested by writing President Cleveland on July 5, saying, “…surely the facts have not been correctly presented to you in this case, or you would not have taken the step, for it seems to me, unjustifiable. Waiving all questions of courtesy I will say that the State of Illinois is not only able to take care of itself, but it stands ready to furnish the Federal Government any assistance it may need else where…” Despite these repeated protests by Governor Altgeld, President Cleveland continued to send in federal troops.

The reaction of the strikers to the appearance of the troops was that of outrage. What had been a basically peaceful strike turned into complete mayhem. The mayhem began on July 4, with mobs of people setting off fireworks and tipping over rail cars. The workers started to tip railcars and build blockades in reaction to the presence of the federal troops. In addition to this, there was additional level of chaos caused by the ARU leaders’ inability to communicate with the strikers because of the federal indictments. The rioting grew and spread then on July 7, a large fire consumed seven buildings at the World’s Colombian Exposition in Jackson Park. This burning and rioting came to a zenith on July 6, when fires caused by some 6,000 rioters destroyed 700 railcars and caused $340,000 of damages in the South Chicago Panhandle yards.

At this time in the Chicago vicinity, there were 6,000 federal and state troops, 3,100 police, and 5,000 deputy marshals. However, all this manpower could not prevent the violence from peaking when on July 7, national guardsmen after being assaulted, fired into the crowd killing at least four (possibly up to thirty) and wounding at least twenty. The killing continued when two more people were killed by troops in Spring Valley, Illinois. All this violence started to cause the strike to ebb and on that same day Eugene Debs and four other ARU leaders were arrested for violating the indictment. These officers were later realized on $10,000 bond. The strike was failing rapidly, so the ARU tried to enlist the aid of the AFL in the form of sympathetic strikes. When this was refused the ARU attempted to abandon the strike, on the grounds that workers would be rehired without prejudice except were convicted of crimes however, this offer was refused by the General Managers’ Association. The strike continued to dwindle, and trains began to move with increased frequency. The strike became untenable for the workers and on August 2 the Pullman works reopened.

This strike was truly monumental if some of the figures for lost revenues are looked at. The railroads alone lost an estimated $685,308 in expenses incurred during the strike. However, the railroads lost even more in revenue an estimated $4,672,916. In addition, 100,000 striking employees lost wages of an estimated $1,389,143. These costs are just the localized effects of the paralyzation of the nation’s rail center and do not include the far ranging financial effects. The manpower used to break the strike was also immense. The total forces of the strikebreakers both government and private were: 1,936 federal troops, 4,000 national guardsmen, about 5,000 extra deputy marshals, 250 extra deputy sheriffs, and the 3,000 policemen in Chicago for a total of 14,186 strikebreakers. In addition to these figures there were also twelve people shot and killed, and 71 people who were arrested and sentenced on the federal indictment. This strike had other far ranging consequences. The federal government took an unprecedented step in using indictments to make any form of a strike essentially illegal and supported this action by deploying federal troops against the will of the states.

The results of the Pullman Strike were both enormous and inconsequential. They were enormous because the strike showed the power of unified national unions. At the same time the strike showed the willingness of the federal government to intervene and support the capitalists against unified labor. The results were inconsequential because for all of the unified effort of the unions the workers did not get their rents lowered.

So, several men in Chicago lost their lives, labor had been struck a tremendous blow, and President Grover Cleveland, fearing an even greater worker revolt, pushed the national holiday through Congress in order to appease the masses. And, now, we celebrate the day by grilling out and taking one last dip in the pool.

Here’s to all the men and women who died so that we might enjoy the 40 hour work week, safe working conditions, and all the rest of it… Let’s enjoy the fruits of their labor while we can, because God knows we’ll see kids working in coal mines again in our lifetimes. To do otherwise, after all, would be Socialism.

update: A link to the following graph was just left in the comments section. I thought that it deserved to be up here, where it had a greater likelihood of catching your attention.

[note: I posted the above update in 2011. If you have access to a more recent graph showing how both middle class income and union membership have fared over these last half dozen years, let me know.]

update: I was going to write something, here at the end of this post, about the people Trump has tapped to push forward his labor agenda, but, as luck would have it, I just happened across a new post at The Cap Times of Madison that said it better than I ever could. Here’s a clip.

…(Trump) has made that plain by assembling an administration that is packed with political grifters who have made it their business to defend sweatshops, depress wages and tip every balance toward multinational corporations.

Trump’s National Labor Relations Board picks — Marvin Kaplan and William Emanuel — have been greeted with scorn by advocates for a living wage and workplace fairness. As Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told Emanuel during his confirmation hearing: “You have spent your career at one of the most ruthless, union-busting law firms in the country. How can Americans trust you will protect workers’ rights when you’ve spent 40 years fighting against them?”

Trump’s Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, has a miserable history of aligning with right-wing and corporate interests. After law school, Acosta clerked for Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Samuel Alito. Alito is now the U.S. Supreme Court’s aggressive foe of worker rights. Acosta, who served briefly as a George W. Bush appointee to the National Labor Relations Board, went on to face harsh criticism for the partisanship he displayed on voting rights cases while leading the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

As labor secretary, Acosta has remained on the wrong side. Just weeks ago, he appeared before the annual gathering of the militantly anti-labor American Legislative Exchange Council — along with anti-union zealot Betsy DeVos, Trump’s secretary of education.

Trump’s pick to serve as deputy secretary of labor, Patrick Pizzella, has an even more troubling record than Acosta. A former campaign staffer for Ronald Reagan who has served in Republican and Democratic administrations, Pizzella was once employed by the viscerally anti-union National Right to Work Committee and later joined the firm that scandal-plagued lobbyist Jack Abramoff was associated with before his 2006 conviction on federal charges that included attempted bribery.

When Alaska Republican Sen. Frank Murkowski proposed legislation to raise wages for workers in the Northern Marianas Islands, a U.S. territory that corporations used to get a “Made in the USA” label on sweatshop products, Pizzella lobbied for the sweatshop owners…

Speaking of sweatshops, today’s post was brought you by Ivanka Trump.

update: OK, it’s present day again, and Donald Trump has said that he’ll be blocking pay raises for all federal employees. It would appear that, in his opinion, there’s just not enough money to make cost-of-living increases possible. [Trump said that austerity, at least with regard to this issue, is necessary in order to “put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course.”] I know what you’re thinking… How is it possible that we don’t have any money, as we were told that the GOP’s $1 trillion corporate tax cut would essentially pay for itself, as the economy would grow, and offset any short term losses with regard to federal revenue? Well, that never happened. The Republicans slashed corporate taxes, telling us that we’d all see big pay raises, and assuring us that we wouldn’t see cuts to federal programs. And pretty much the opposite happened. According to the most recent report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the federal deficit is going to grow by another $804 billion in fiscal 2018. And worker pay didn’t rise – it fell, as companies, for the most part, decided not to invest their newfound wealth by investing in their people and their facilities, but instead used it to buy back stock, increasing shareholder wealth. Here’s just one of many charts from Bloomberg about the screwing of the American worker post-Trump. The blue line represents the hourly wage of the American worker.

Now that the American workers are beginning to wake to the lie of Trumpism, and the fact that it was never really about lifting up “the forgotten Americans,” but further enriching the members of the American oligarchy, there seems to be something of a correction underway, with momentum building on the left. And all the Republicans seem capable of saying in response is, “Socialism!“, as though the negative connotation of that single word might in itself be enough to make those losing their jobs and their healthcare say to their hungry kids, “Well, at least we aren’t evil socialists.” But, really, that’s all the Republicans now have. They’ve got fear of Socialism, and overt racism. Their bag of tricks is otherwise empty.

Here, if you don’t want to take my word for it, is Congressman Adam Schiff telling it like it is.

So, yeah, every little thing our ancestors fought for back in the late 1800s is going to have to be fought for again, against adversaries with more to lose, and more weapons at their disposal.. Good luck, friends.

[note: All of the above was posted a few years ago on Labor Day. I’m sure, since it was posted, there have been other serious assaults to the rights of American workers, all of which should be included here. Unfortunately, though, I have designated today my Annual Day of Yard Work, and I’m already behind schedule. If you have items that you think should be added to this litany of assaults, please leave a comment.]

Posted in History, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Donald Trump refers to Americans who died in war as “losers” and “suckers”

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, as we all heard Donald Trump say “I like people who weren’t captured” about former prisoner of war John McCain in 2015, but The Atlantic is reporting today that the President’s disdain for men and women in uniform goes far deeper. Here’s how the article, written by Jeffrey Goldberg, begins.

Former marine and Associated Press investigative reporter James LaPorta, when he first read the Atlantic article, didn’t believe it. He didn’t think it was conceivable that a President of the United States would call the more than 1,800 marines who died fighting the Nazis a Belleau Wood “suckers” for getting killed. LaPorta, however, as you can see here, then reached out to his sources and confirmed the story in its entirety. Donald Trump, he determined, had indeed cancelled a planned trip to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018 citing the fact that the dead U.S. marines buried their were “suckers” for fighting the Nazis and getting killed. [As you’ll recall, Donald Trump made up an injury to avoid service during the Vietnam War.]

For what it’s worth, Donald Trump, while refusing to attend the memorial at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, did find the energy to show up for an event the next day to greet Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Here’s a photo from that event.

Trump, defending himself from these charges earlier today, said that he respected the military, and never disparaged John McCain’s service. “I never called John McCain a loser,” he said. Here, however, is Donald Trump in 2015, himself retweeting an article entitled, “Donald Trump: John McCain is ‘A Loser'”.

Thankfully, it seems as some people are taking this seriously. Here, for instance, is retired Major General Paul Eaton announcing that he will be voting for Joe Biden come November. And it would appear as though he won’t be alone. According to recent polling, Trump’s support among active duty military seems to be slipping. According to a poll just conducted by the Military Times, 49.9% of the 1,018 active duty troops they surveyed in July and August had an unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump, compared with just 38% who had a favorable opinion.

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 104 Comments


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