Saturday, September 25, 2021

Infrastructure 2021: Why Politicians Should Never Be Lawyers

On Friday afternoon (9/17), with less than two weeks before a potential government shutdown, the White House (per Bloomberg) quietly began to pressure state and local governments to support the the $3.5 trillion dollar spending bill and debt increase. The all-too-familiar process (used multiple times by both parties over the last two decades) threatened funding for Medicaid, school lunches, and Social Security recipients. After all, who better to disenfranchise than those who are so poorly and unequally represented in Congress. It is a typical and standard part of the budget process and because it is so common, it is even more disgraceful by its use in a time of apparent crisis.

One isn't sure who is crafting the messages that come out of the White House these days, but as the wording is straightforward and well-written, it is also harsh and lacking any semblance that those who make the decisions recognize that people's lives are at stake. Perhaps, this is why politicians should not be lawyers and why lawyers fail to make good leaders. 

The Law and the study of it is fascinating in its intricacy. Its special language, a combination of Old English and new phrasing, would impress any good con artist with its lack of transparency.  Then, there is the process that must be followed--a set of rules that, like poker, carries a certain amount of swagger and bluff to be successful. Cards are laid on the table only when one has the already won the hand.  

Portrayed as blind and balanced to be fair and equal to all, justice is not the goal of lawyers, nor politician, but a negotiating tool to gain support for personal and political agendas.  Sadly, the farther this country gets from the writing of its Constitution, the more there is an understanding that the law only serves to divide by elevating one group over another. 

By the early 1800s, just 25 years after the Constitution was ratified, the land owners, scholars, inventors and businessmen that sought to design a "more perfect Union" knew they had failed. Largely replaced by elected officials schooled and shaped by military service, wealth or legal education, there was little room for someone with a real world perspective on how daily problems should be remediated. Those, like Daniel Boone, and then Lincoln, who spoke for the common man, were a minority and still are. 

How did a country founded on working class values lose its edge? In the same way it happens today, those with education and wealth easily took control of a fledgling country with an uneducated and easily manipulated populace.

Many with educated and noble family backgrounds (Kamala Harris) had emigrated from countries which experienced political upheaval.  Some. like the Kennedy and Trump families, knew that government office could profitably steer business in a desired direction. Others with social connections and wealth saw it as an appropriate calling for the younger generation as a way to ensure the family legacy or to recover from financial ruin (Joe Biden).  Only in exceedingly rare cases did someone achieve political success with a background of hard work and relationships with ordinary people.

What makes law such a poor background for a leader?  Simple, the act of being a lawyer is about defending one narrow position according to the rules of law. It is not about right or wrong or even justice, but about persuading people to think in a particular manner.  Some examples  might help it be much clearer.  

  • Lawyers defend a concept not a person. They are not required to know, talk to or even believe their clients. Once elected, no official is required to consider anything more than his own values and ambitions. Persons who cast their vote in support of a one-sided philosophy encourage inequality for us all.
  • Evidence is the basis of decisions even if that evidence is manipulated or false. Have we not seen the Biden administration choose which evidence is to be used in regard to vaccine use?  Do the words "alternative facts" (per Kellyanne Conway) come to mind?  
  • Lawyers are not accountable for poor outcomes.  Congress, as well as the President, are exempt from general liability and therefore have no interest in "doing their best". While a doctor can be sued for malpractice, elected officials are cloaked with protection that an average citizen cannot hope to ever obtain. A good publicist can erase every mistake from the public record.
  • Lawyers frequently blame the system when it does not work in their favor and appeal the decision until it is one that is more to their liking. However, they readily claim success when they win the fight. Recently, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi chastised the Supreme Court for taking a more moderate stand on several provisions of on her own political agenda. 

Could it be that our government is not broken but a congregation of 536 (Congress plus the President) homogeneous career-oriented people whose focus is no less narrow-minded than a radical dictatorship or religious cult. Isn't the Law a kind of Bible behind which government stands when criticized?  Does government not seek to bend 330 million people to a single way of life that is much like the caste-system in India and religious extremists in Afghanistan.  Is a system based on wealth and lopsided protection under the law any less unjust for Americans? Doesn't the Law allow all three of these systems to exist openly?

Historically speaking, the American system was set up with three branches for the purpose of bringing different perspectives to the governing process.  Only the Court system was intended to be run by those familiar with the Law.  Unlike the nations that grew out of the British Empire, the US neglected to protect the "commoner" and provide equal representation so that poor and lower-income people could attain elected office as easily as the educated and well-of. 

Over the next few weeks, the country will be witness to the failing of a political system led by those who understand the law but not human nature. Wouldn't it be interesting to see how leadership changed if lawyers were banned from holding elected office. 

Who knows, it might bring us full circle to how the Constitution is supposed to work--of the people, by the people and for the people.  An interesting thought, isn't it? 

Kamala Harris Background Link  

Kennedy Family History in Politics

Trump Family Background

Joe Biden's Family Legacy

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Climate Change: Air Pollution's the Answer--It REALLY Is!!

With another hot, dry summer winding down, the question remains, Why do governments not act on Climate Change? In a new book, Air Pollution's the Answer! How Clean Air Policy Compromised the Planet and Public Health, author Sarah Schrumpf-Deacon chalks up global hesitation to one simple reason—leaders hate being wrong!

“All too often, we, as a modern society, believe in our infallibility. It's just human nature,” explains Schrumpf-Deacon,“If you look at climate change in a broader context, it is fairly easy to see where society turned down the climate change path and how to easily get back on track—even in the middle of a pandemic.”

The book looks at a century and a half of human behavior, scientific progress and environmental responses. Using practical science rather than computer modeling, the author focuses on well-documented environmental cycles that have been disrupted by human meddling. At just over 100 pages, its twelve chapters divide topics into small chunks with everyday object lessons that explain principles rather than dictate theory and change.

“The difficulty will be getting people to accept that a couple of simple mistakes had the power to derail the environment. Even recent reports which acknowledge human intervention as a cause of climate change perfer catastrophic predictions rather than trusting nature to reset itself in the short term,” continues Schrumpf-Deacon, “For too long, civilization focused on making the world perfect for mankind, not understanding that the environment was perfect to begin with. Even the idea that climate change can easily be 'fixed' will be hard to accept.”

The premise of the book begins by throwing out the current focus on 'greenhouse gas theory'. While a significant discovery in its day, the principle was discarded by 19th century scientists as too limited in its focus. Once science accepts this historical reality, other possibilities become much more relevant. In the end, the book's conclusion is that carbon-based gases do not cause climate change but the absence of what is labeled 'air pollution' does. Environmentally the world was crippled when a few essential gases were removed from the atmosphere by reactive and short-sighted legislation known as Clean Air policy. Put back what was removed and the environment is likely to recover quickly.

“What does humanity have to lose by considering a different climate change solution, particularly one that is historically proven to work well?” concludes the author, “By rolling back Clean Air legislation to more moderate and regionally specific levels, all we are doing is returning the environment to a time during which the Earth was healthy and so were the creatures that lived in it. Computer models only parrot the fears and bias of those who use them. What if COVID-19 is the World's object lesson that teaches us that humanity's view of perfect environment is both unhealthy and dangerous?”

Sarah Schrumpf-Deacon is a retired Family and Consumer Science (FACS) teacher, farmer, and freelance writer. She refers to her background as 'eclectic' and brings a broad-based science perspective to her writing. While acknowledging that the book may never have been written without the keen observations of professionals who questioned current climate change theory, she strongly advocates for rural communities in climate change recovery and reminds her readers that cities are, for the most part, environmenally unsustainable.

Air Pollution's the Answer! How Clean Air Policy Compromised the Planet and Public Health was self-published through the IngramSpark platform (Nana Janes Books) and is available in digital and print versions.

***We prefer to not provide a link to a particular seller but searching by author name                can make it easier to find the book.  

Monday, September 20, 2021

DACA Citizenship: It Could Have Been So Easy

What is it about political leadership that gravitates to the sneaky and underhanded while avoiding simple and practical solutions?   As  today's headlines (9/20/2021) report the breakdown of a plan to slip a massive immigration overhaul into a $3.5 billion dollar budget, it seems our leadership has sunk even further into a state of poor character and winner-take-all tactics.

The definition of good character in politics has popped into my head many times over the last few decades. It first came to my notice during the reign of Newt Gingrich, a Republican version of today's Nancy Pelosi.  Gingrich's 100 day agenda conflicted with the plans of then President Bill Clinton.  The tactics then were very similar to those employed now. Gingrich may have ushered in our modern era of aggressive House leadership but that is not to say other officials have not been just as ruthless and uncompromising in the Senate.   

I pose some question to those in Congress: Is your job to manage government and do things by procedure, or were you put in office to lead and do what is right even if the solution cannot be turned into a political advantage?  Did you ever think there was a simple solution to the DACA and immigration issue?  Did you ever look for one or is this all just about winning the fight?

I suppose both parties believe that, as leaders, they do the right thing while excusing themselves from any real ethical issues.  But the question as always is--does Congress (and any President) bother to look for a practical answer to the problem or is it more of an ego boost to strong arm resolutions and create more division in this already divided country? Isn't DACA, like abortion, nothing more than a polarizing issue that is valuable only when it is unresolved?

My first experience with a child of illegal immigrants came long before DACA existed.  As a teacher in an area with a large Hispanic population, it was normal to have diversity in the classroom. Even under those conditions, it was a surprise when a particularly bright and capable young woman revealed that she was not, nor could she become, a US citizen as she had crossed the border illegally when she was but three years old. Unlike her younger siblings, who had been born in this country, she alone lived without a path to citizenship and planned her after-graduation future in the shadow of uncertainty.

Immigration has never been a hard and fast policy in this country. Perhaps that is why it has become such a problem. But, there was a time when Congress acted to shore up immigration rules and put limits on who could and could not stay permanently. The focus was not paperwork but meeting certain requirements that helped future citizens assimilate into the local community. These requirements are clearly and easily found here


The provisions for citizenship set up more than a hundred years ago (1882) were, and still are, simple and straightforward. Citizenship can be achieved in as little as three years if the person is so inclined. Every President and member of Congress in the last decade has apparently forgotten that such laws are firmly in place and preferred to make this situation another 'never-ending political campaign debate. Choosing a signature on paper and political posturing over thought and creativity, an estimated 800,000 young people live in limbo since former President Barrack Obama created the Dreamers initiative in 2012.


By design, the requirements for citizenship are quite similar to the requirements of graduating from public high school. Students typically are required to provide proof of residence and to attend a minimum number of days to earn this credential. If education law is adhered to, students must demonstrate the ability to understand and converse in standard English and obtain a marketable skill before graduating. Frequently, students must be near or have passed the age of 18 and must have demonstrated some level of good character and ethical understanding for confirmation. All of these are found as a requirement for naturalization to this country.

There is, of course, the issue of the Citizenship test, but that is a relatively new provision in immigration law (established in 1986 and revised in 2018). That requirement is also a general part of the high school curriculum. Without realizing it, many native born Americans take the test for a grade in a Civics, Government or US History class. Some do not pass.


So what is all the fuss about and why are young people who have lived in this country for nearly their entire lives being denied citizenship? Clearly, it boils down to a lack of paperwork. Could Congress not put an end to this torture by simply adopting a procedure whereby DACA individuals provide proof of graduation from an accredited public high school in lieu of visa or permanent residence applications. Rather than the eight year timeline proposed by President Joe Biden punctuated by Supreme Court challenges and political grandstanding, citizenship could reasonably be granted without further delays.


While this will not end the debate of the current open border policy, it could provide a reasonable path to citizenship for children left in the care of what is supposed to be a good and caring country.



Saturday, September 11, 2021

Time for the Covid Talk, Mr. President

 Good Morning Mr. President:

While it may have been more respectful to send this directly to you as a citizen comment, I, like many citizens, long-ago realized that the chances of unsolicited input having any real impact on an elected official is approximately the same as winning the Power Ball Lottery with an EasyPick ticket. Nonetheless, there is always hope that these words will someday make an impression on you and your staff.

Mr. President, it is time for the COVID talk.

Too often in this country, federal and local officials have focused on the image of prosperity rather than long-term sustainability as a yardstick for change.  Never considering that these actions would have far-reaching consequences for millions of average citizens, you and other politicians took this country down a path to massive healthcare that thumbed-its nose at nature and broke the one abiding principle of medicine--to do no harm.  Like the opioid crisis that continues to kill an indeterminable number of poor and elderly, COVID-19 is not some freak occurrence of nature but the natural response of caring more about a political platform than healthy and practical living. 

Mr. President, what is this all about?  Do you really believe in vaccines so much that you are willing to threaten people with the loss of their jobs and income? Are you just now realizing that the millions of doses of vaccine that you and your predecessor mindlessly purchased are never going to be used?  What is this really about?

From the beginning of this pandemic, specialists cautioned leaders against banking on a one-time vaccine.  They knew the Coronavirus was endemic (common) and a natural part of building immunity for a healthy life. It has always changed rapidly for the purpose of challenging the body's immune system over time and it will continue to change regardless of the production of millions of vials of vaccine.  Ironically, the Coronavirus is easily kept in check when the environment is healthy and people live within those environmental guidelines. That, Mr. President,  is what Americans no longer have--a healthy and functioning environment.  

The enemy here is not a simple virus that will survive for centuries to come. The enemy here is fifty years of government acting like God to change the environment. If you want to bring an end to COVID-19, it won't be through semi-annual shots but when sulfur (a natural disinfectant) returns to the atmosphere and minerals like magnesium again dirty our water. 

Your strength as a leader is not in following a prescribed political agenda.  You did not rise to the top because you were better than the others but because you had a blunt ring of truth in your words. Now, you follow the advice of a paper-pushing doctor who is as responsible for this crisis as anyone in government.  Not once has Anthony Fauci recommended daily vitamins or more protein in the diet as a way to combat COVID. Not once has he acknowledged that immunosuppresant drugs counteract the very vaccine he promotes. Not once has Fauci laid out a path of  healthy living that does not promote the healthcare industry he has been tasked with supporting.  Is this about public health or public healthcare?

COVID will never end but the end of this crisis will come only when you listen to someone other than Fauci and consider that for all its perceived benefits, clean air and clean water are anything but healthy.  Thus ends the lesson.