Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Blogger Candidate Forum: Only One Side To This Issue

 http://www.citylab.com; August 16, 2017


Hello Everyone:

It is time for the weekly edition of Blogger Candidate Forum.  Today's subject is a timely one: infrastructure.  However before we get going, a couple of things: first, the city of Houston is digging out from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.  Hurricane Irma is currently rampaging through the Caribbean and as its sights set on Florida.  The people in the affected are in great need of food, water, medicine, diapers.  If you would like to help, you can text 90999 (minimum $10) or go to redcross.org to make a donation or find a local blood drive.  Second, a follow up to yesterday's post on the impact of rescinding DACA.  If you are DACA-eligible and need to renew your application, do it immediately. You have until October 5, 2017.  The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will only consider renewals requests.  Please go to http://www.uscis.gov for all the latest information.  Now on to today's subject.

On last week's edition of #BloggerCandidateForum, yours truly mentioned that infamous press conference on August 15, 2017, at Trump Tower.  You know, the one where Mr. Donald Trump defended white supremacists and repeated his cringe inducing "violence on both sides" comments.  Lost in the commotion was the press conference's true purpose: to talk about accelerating infrastructure projects.  Laura Bliss writes in her CityLab article, "Trump's Infrastructure Plan Only Has One 'Side,'" "The conference began with a typical stunt: Standing amid cabinet officials Elaine Chao, Steve Mnuchin, and Mick Mulvaney, Trump unfurled a long, beautiful chart purporting to a 17-year environmental permitting process for an unnamed highway project."  The president proceeded to announce yet another one his executive order cutting the approval process down to two years.  The E.O. also called for one lead agency to take the lead for every major project subject to federal review.  Further, lost in chaos was the rescinding of former-President Barack Obama's Executive Order 13690: Flood Risk Assessment and Management Program which required "...new federal constructions to account for climate change's effect on storms and flooding."

The president told the pack:

We're going to get infrastructure built quickly, inexpensively, relatively speaking and the permitting process will go very, very quickly,...No longer will we accept a broken system that benefits consultants and lobbyists at the expense of hard-working Americans.

Laura Bliss concedes, "There is bipartisan agreement that environmental permitting can be unnecessarily arduous.  It is complicate even in normal circumstances, and drawn-out decisions can waste tax dollars."  Thus, it is little wonder that the permitting process is more beneficial to the "consultants" instead of the ecosystem that they were meant to protect.  President Obama issued his own set of E.Os intended to streamline the process for economically sensitive proposals.  His predecessor President George W. Bush launch a full on review (dare we say attack; http://www.upi.com; Sept. 5, 2003; date accessed Sept. 6, 2017) on the National Environmental Policy Act.

However, if Mr. Trump's intention was to protect the American taxpayer (it is not), "...the floodplain regulation would not come anywhere near it."  Common sense dictates floodplain regulation is designed to stall government from throwing money around like a drunken sailor.  Ms. Bliss points out, "Federal agencies have long required that their own construction projects avoid building in flood-prone areas so that tax dollars are not lost every year to storms."  Makes perfect sense.  Of course, that kind of rational thinking is lost on an administration that does not think that rising sea levels and worsen storms, like the rate Category 5 Hurricane Irma, have nothing to do with climate change.  That must have been part of the logic used by Mr. Trump when he decided to eliminate the regulation created by the Obama administration in 2015 (http://www.citylab.com; Sept. 2, 2016: date accessed Sept. 6, 2016) which-"...required federal projects that could not help but be situate in low-lying areas to take additional mitigation so in response to flood exacerbating effects of climate change."

Scaling back that policy defies climate science and all the common sense reccommendation of flood control engineers.  What do they know (sarcasm alert), right?  You migh as well take all this tax dollars and throw them into the rising tides.

The president's proposed infrastructure plan remains, like his tax reform plan, is still in the conceptual stage, considering that no real policy has emerged from the administration.  Be that as it may, if there is any guiding philosophy behind the "great" ideas offered up by the White House-outlined draft budgets and fact sheets ("Fact Sheet 2018 Budget: Infrastructure Initiative"; http://www.whitehouse.gov; date accessed Sept. 6, 2017)-it is: "Profit-minded, private interests should guide federal investments."

To finance the president's much-promised $1 trillion in infrastructure spending, "...the White has called to leverage $800 billion in private capital with $200 billion in federal funds."  This formula would only account for proposals guaranteed to produce study returns (http://www.citylab.com; May 23, 2017: date accessed Sept. 6, 2016) like: new toll roads, pipelines, and renovated airports (http://www.reuters.com; March 9, 2017; date accessed Sept. 6, 2017).  That sounds great but the not so lucrative projects like fixing crumbling roads, water pipe, and transit systems are by-and-large ignored.

During that infamous press conference, Mr. Trump once again boasted that his infrastructure "...will generate massive employment gains, invoking nationalistic pride and the country's largely vanished metal-making jobs (http://www.marketplace.org; Aug. 9, 2016; date accessed Sept. 6, 2017).  The president thumped his chest declaring,

We will rebuild our country with American workers, American iron, American aluminum, American steel,....We will create millions of new jobs and make millions of American dreams come true...quickly

Good, you can start in the areas hardest hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  By the way, some breaking news: two more hurricanes-Jose and Katia-are lining up in the Atlantic.

After reminding the pack "that America's infrastructure looks like that of a third world country," the president took questions from the reporters, who naturally queried Mr. Trump about his response to Charlottesville; that was when things got ugly, shocking members of the Republican Party (http://www.politico.com; Aug 13, 2017; date accessed Sept. 6, 2017) and his usually friendly conservative media (http://www.thehill.com; Aug. 15, 2017; date accessed Sept. 6, 2017).

Laura Bliss speculates, "Maybe they shouldn't have been so surprised.  The president's sympathies for those who marched in the name of white supremacy and Nazism do not appear unrelated to his obsession with building big things fast.  Behind them both lies certain authoritarian zeal."  This should give you all something to think about.

It is also worth pointing out that Mr. Trump has a history of praising dictators.  In an interview with NBC News, Christina Coleburn reported his comments about Fascist leader Benito Mussolini:

...It's okay to know it's Mussolini,...Mussolini was Mussolini...It's a very good quote.  It's very interesting quote...what difference does whether it's Mussolini or somebody else? 

The Italian fascist allied with Adolf Hitler as part of the Axis Powers in World War II.

During last year's primary season, then-candidate Trump tweeted:

@ilduce2016: "It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep @realDonaldTrump 4:13AM-Feb 28, 2016 (http://www.twitter.com)
(http://www.nbcnews.com; July 6, 2016; date accessed Sept. 6, 2017)

Ms. Bliss reminds us that the Italian dictato "built the world's first high-speed toll road designed for cars.  His Fascists also constructed a slew of airports and a network of passenger trains as part of a national leisure campaign (http://www.wikipedia.org; date accessed Sept. 6, 2017) which was intended to keep the working class happy (i.e. distracted) and indoctrinate the children, according to David Dudely (http://www.citylab.com; Nov. 15, 2016; date accessed Sept. 6, 2017).  According to former CityLab writer Eric Jaffe, Adolf broke ground on the Autobahn, the 

perfect demonstration...that his government could get things done in a way the Weimar government had not  (http://www.citylab.com; June 6 2014; date accessed Sept. 6, 2017).  

This allowed the German dictator to consolidate his power by connecting key voting blocs.

As Mr. Trump pointed out during the chaos, There are two sides to the country.  "Which side does his infrastructure hope to connect?"