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Issue #1795      September 20, 2017

Culture & Life

Fossil fuel and fascism

Donald Trump campaigned on the slogan “Make America Great Again!” He told unemployed coal miners in Pennsylvania he would get them jobs – but not by funding retraining to equip them to take up new generation green jobs. Certainly not! Trump has no interest in green jobs (a situation which at least saves his administration the cost of any retraining) despite the fact – and it is a fact – that developing green energy will provide many more jobs than continuing with fossil fuels.

Trump however is in bed with the fossil fuel industry, and his only answer to the unemployment in US coalfields is to promote the mining and use of coal – global warming go hang! Green energy would not only provide more jobs; it would also provide healthier jobs, and healthier communities. But Trump is a billionaire capitalist. He is really only interested in what will make even more money for him and his family than they already have. That is the reason – certainly the principal reason – why he ran for President.

He has no comprehension of the complexity of international affairs and instead uses his position as President to boost the status and income of his various resorts. His Presidential campaign was the work of a typical demagogue, filled with glib but empty phrases meant to reassure his listeners that he was “on their side” and equally filled with bombast as to what America under his leadership would do to anyone who dared to defy its diktat.

His pool of campaign advisers were drawn from the extreme Right and since being elected he has greatly enlarged their number while confirming his status as a modern-day fascist with every move he makes.

Besides threatening to start a nuclear war wherever the US or its cronies find themselves in difficulties, the gang in the Trump White House are waging war against Native Americans, letting oil companies build huge pipelines across their Reservations and providing FBI protection against the substantial opposition organised by the outraged people.

Trump’s mob are also waging war against environmental campaigners, against all in fact who put nebulous nature before the sacred tenets of profit. President Trump, like so many right-wingers, is a vocal “climate sceptic”, convinced that scientists warning of global warming are making a fuss about nothing and are probably motivated by some sort of sinister left-wing plot. Which puts him at odds with no less an organisation than that bright star that supposedly symbolises the USA’s world leadership, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

It was NASA, we must never forget, that met the Soviet challenge that began with the launch of Sputnik, and – at colossal expense – put a man on the moon before the Russians could. But NASA’s scientists are still scientists, and tend to put science ahead of the wishes of their political elite, even a very rich one. In fact, in the words of Joe Romm of ThinkProgress: “NASA scientists have led the way in documenting the scientific reality of climate change.”

So what has been the response of the Trump White House? Why, to try to bring NASA to heel of course. Trump has just nominated one of his political cronies to be the new head of NASA: Jim Bridenstine, a Republican Congressman from Ohio with no science credentials of any sort. He does have a triple bachelor’s degree from Rice University, but in economics, psychology, and business, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Cornell University. Oh, well, no need for worry then!

Like Trump, Bridenstine is a climate denier. Andrea Germanos, of US online-journal Common Dreams, notes that “in 2013, Bridenstine not only gave a speech on the House floor filled with standard denier talking points, he actually ended his remarks with a demand that President Obama apologize for funding research into climate science!

“Mr. Speaker, global temperatures stopped rising 10 years ago,” declared the man who is to be the new head of NASA. That figure is so patently false, he must have plucked it out of the air. So why has Trump picked Bridenstine for this important scientific post? I think the journal ArsTechnica might have the answer: it reported last month that Bridenstine “was championed by several commercial space companies because he is open to increased privatization of US civil and military space activities.”

Of course, in the USA, space and the military are probably the only significant areas of industrial activity left that are still available to be privatised, since so much of American industry has been moved off-shore by companies who have no qualms about taking work away from their employees if it means improving their profits.

Trump no doubt will tell unemployed American workers that he has “great love” for them, just as he claims to have for the undocumented immigrant children he has just condemned to being deported. His anti-immigrant rhetoric has encouraged American Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and other racists to attack people of colour (immigrant and non-immigrant alike) and whites protesting right-wing violence (including the common US phenomenon of police violence). He refused for days to condemn the racist murder of a demonstrator until forced by public pressure. And then all he could bring himself to do was read a glib statement one of his staff had prepared for him.

His latest moves include nominating Tom Marino, a Republican Congressman from Pennsylvania (where else?), as the new “drug czar” – officially director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Marino was “one of Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters” during his presidential campaign, now gets his payoff.

According to US internet journal LancasterOnline, Marino is a typical Trump right-winger: the Washington Post identified him as “a hard-liner on marijuana issues, [who] recently said that he’d like to put nonviolent drug offenders in some sort of ‘hospital/prison’ ”.

This does not suggest there will be any improvement in future in the disastrous “war on drugs” in the US.

But then, expecting any sort of social improvement under Trump does seem a trifle naïve, doesn’t it?

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