Does he even pay attention?


The Irony of yet another time that Trump wants to blame everyone else for his troubles, this time he claims the enemy is specifically all those Democrats running the Russian probe and the “raid” on the offices of Michael Cohen , his attorney.

But the reality is, those in charge of all of this are:

Mueller a republican appointed by Trump,
Rod Rosenstein a republican appointed by Trump,
FBI Director Chris Wray appointed by trump, and                                     U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman also appointed by Trump.

So it is hard to understand upon what he bases his claim,

“These are the most biased group of people. These people have the biggest conflicts of interest I’ve ever seen. Democrats, all, or just about all, either democrats or a couple of Republicans that worked for [former] President Obama.”

He is not the country

After the FBI raided the New York office and residence of Michael Cohen with search warrants obtained by FBI agents and federal prosecutors in New York in coordination with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team looking for information about a $130,000 payment the attorney made to porn star Stormy Daniels, Trump declared that beside it being a witch hunt and a disgrace, he also declared it was

 “an attack on our country in a true sense, an attack on what we all stand for.”

But Trump may have forgotten he had pretty much invited them to do that when in response to a question about his knowledge of the pay off Trump had suggested they go get the answer.

“You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. You’ll have to ask Michael.”

As far a being an attack on the country, again, Trump has inflated himself to be as great as if not one and the same with the country.

He isn’t. Nor was the raid on Cohen’s offices, complete with search warrants, a raid on the country. 9/11 and the attack on Pearl harbor were attacks on the country.

Oh, by the way, a guy died

In the 1990s when New York City, a city of skyscrapers, was considering a city ordinance requiring all tall residential buildings to have fire sprinkler systems in them, Donald Trump fought against that because saving money on construction costs was preferable to saving lives.

When the bill was modified so as not to require existing buildings to add sprinkler systems, Trump backed off.

Over the weekend a fire broke out on the 50th floor of Trump Tower. When firefighters arrived, they found the apartment on that floor was engulfed in flames. They pulled out the one person they found in it. He was unconscious, and they sent him off to the hospital where he later died.

Six firefighters suffered minor injuries.

With one tenant dead and six firefighters injured, Trump revealed his priority, self-praise and possessions over people, by tweeting,

 “Very confined (well built building). Firemen (and women) did a great job. THANK YOU!”

By the way, a guy died.

And while fire fighters were still dealing with the fire, apparently to imply how wonderful his building was constructed, Trump also tweeted that the fire was out, which it wasn’t until an hour after he said it was.

By the way, a guy died.

His praise of his buildings construction and his thanking of firemen, and oh, by the way, women, was all he has said about the fire.

By his account, it was a quick, simple, and safe event.

On Sunday morning he sent out a series of tweets on a variety of subjects, but even though he would have known by then that the tenant, 67-year-old Todd Brassner, had died, he had nothing further to say about the fire beyond what was in his one tweet the night before.

Other residents of the tower spoke of the chaos that went on in the building because there is no evacuation system in place.

It s a very well constructed building, according to Trump.



By the way, a guy died.

But after insurance is settled and the apartment is ready to rent, a new tenant will move in and pay the rent, and all will be well for Trump.

A break from politics

For the last two years I have been one of the people transcribing whaling voyage log books from the 19th Century at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

Our job is to type up the log books to make them more accessible to the general public that may want to research a particular voyage without having to deal with deciphering the idiosyncratic handwriting of the log keepers.

The logs were kept by the First Mates who had varying levels of education, so even though they may have included the important information in each log entry, their handwriting was not in any one particular style, and often they relied on phonetically spelling words according to their regional accents and dialects.

Unlike Jean Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise who begins each Captain’s Lo entry with a star date followed by a summary of recent activity and mention of an upcoming event followed by ruminations and philosophical assessments of both with assessments of crew behavior, the whaling logs, being a record related strictly to business, were rather cut and dry listing the date, weather, temperature, wind direction, the ship’s course, and, in the barest descriptions, ship’s business.

There is little narrative detail.

Whereas in Moby Dick Melville often describes getting a whale in romantic and flowery details heavy with philosophical and theological interpretations, the logs simply state sighting whales, lowering the boats, harpooning the whale, getting it back to the ship, cutting it, rendering the oil out of the blubber, storing the oil, bones, and baleen below decks, and the day ending.

There is no poetry to it.

Occasionally an event may happen on board that is not strictly the basic business of the ship, and that will be noted as simply as possible. Putting someone in chains because of a fight may be noted without any details about the fight or the reason for it.

When the Whaling Ship Manhattan entered Tokyo Harbor, the first American ship ever to do so, in order to return some fishermen it had rescued from an island they had swum to when their junk had run aground, as historic as the event was, there are no details about the actual encounter with the emissaries of the Emperor who boarded the ship for inspection. Beyond  mentioning that it happened, the log lists the various food items, like sacks of rice and barrels of beans, the Japanese gave to the ship as an act of gratitude. This most historic of events is reduced to an inventory list.

Any details we have would have come from personal journals and descriptions of events upon the ship’s return to port.

The Milo of New Bedford was one of the last ships captured by the confederate Navy at the end of the Civil War. The log  of a ship that met up with it soon after referred to the capture as merely “the recent event” with no description of it.

The log of the Milo itself merely states it had to go to the nearest port. For the confederacy it was a major coup as four other ships had been captured  with it, but, being a whaling ship, for the Milo it was a “meh”.

While deciphering the spelling, handwriting, and sentence structure of the various First Mates, you get to know something about them as you have to come to understand who they are, and their writing style and approach to their job reveals a little of their personalities.

Although they may have died over 200  years ago, the transcribers speak of the First Mates by name and as if they are people we have met. In one sense they are.

There is no time or deadline pressure, so transcribers can take the time to find out anything they can about the log keeper and investigate some hint as to whom the First Mate is, and this has sometime helped in deciphering them.

The thrill of the transcribing duty is that the log books have sat on shelves either in libraries, business offices, museum archives, or the attics of the log keepers’ descendants, and the person transcribing may be the first person to have read the log page by page, entry by entry, since the book was handed to the ship’s owner at the end of a voyage.

A long dead and little known individual becomes known by someone in the 21st century, and can now be known to people in the future how ever long that is.

They get a second life, and a person unknown in the wider historic record becomes a known part of history.

Recently the duties of log book transcription have given way to transcribing ship crew lists so that the Whaling Museum can contribute to the crew list database project involving all harbors world-wide from which whaling ships set out on voyages.

The original lists, once compiled, had been submitted to the local customs house before a voyage began, and were amended or recertified at the completion of a voyage as the original crew may not have returned intact or with the same members due to desertions, discharges, deaths, or necessary replacements due to these, and these changes had to be noted.

Besides the names of each crew member their place of origin, place of residence at the time of the voyage, the crew member’s age, height, skin color, hair color and type, and occasionally eye color were also included. The physical traits were important for identifying any bodies found by one ship that might have been lost at sea from another.

Once giving the found body a decent burial at sea, upon returning to port, the Master of the finding vessel would present the identifying physical traits that were observed on the body to a clerk at the customs house who would attempt to match them to any crew members listed as “lost at sea” by another ship.

The Quakers of New Bedford saw the value of education, and believing in equality saw that both girls and boys received a basic one at least.

Girls and boys were instructed in Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmatic, but, whereas boys would need further education to be able to play their gender assigned roles as the ones who would run the family business, girls’ formal education would be replaced with reading, attending lectures, having gatherings of other women who would teach each other or be taught something by some expert because their roles as wife and mother did not require further education beyond the basics.

If, however, a woman wanted to get more formal education or, ending up in a position with the family business needed it, it was not prevented.

Some women were happy with the wife and mother level of education while some wanted more.

Other places had varying attitudes toward education with some limiting it just to boys with others, even at that, making education available in varying levels from none to little to basic to more advanced.

Because of the city’s place in national and international business, merchants and owners of businesses, such as those involved in whaling, had to have a good knowledge of the world and be familiar with the names of places around the globe. So simply telling the clerk you were from Philadelphia, Hillsborough, New York and the like would cause no trouble

If a place of origin or present place of residence had a name that was obscure, it might have had to be spelled out, but considering the number of illiterate and near illiterate men who would sign up who couldn’t spell the name of where they came from, the list maker would have to do his best.

Eventually over time, as whaling vessels sailed further afield and places with obscure names became common, the correct spellings would be as automatic as the previously well known ones had been.

One of my recent crew lists was from an 1823 voyage, and among the places of origin there was one crew member from Ireland and two listed merely as foreign, although at the time of the voyage their place of residence was New Bedford.

But also among those listed were four from places obviously not known by the person making the list, and who themselves may not have known how to spell their home towns forcing the scribe to do his best phonetically.

Two were from “mowe”, one from “Whoahoo”, and one from “Owhyhee”.

We are supposed to keep our transcriptions faithful by preserving words as written while making notations in the comment column of the transcription template, and it was there I typed what I thought might be the actual place names.

I surmised they are in order, Maui, Ohau, and Hawai’i.

Considering the exactness sought by the Quakers in their business records, this inexactitude must have annoyed the clerk who, as voyages to the Pacific became more common, may have seen how mistaken, and even comical, his 1823 list would look to future generations who might see this list, comforting himself that that would most likely never happen after the list had served its purpose and joined others in the bowels of the office archives where no one would ever have reason to look it up.

And there I sat 195 years later being the first person to look closely at it after it was squirreled away, and making it conveniently readable for people from now into the future.

And, although it does not appear on the digital spread sheet, the clerk’s signature is there at the bottom of the original.

I have noted his name and will look for it on future lists hoping he had the chance to redeem himself.

The Pruitt Wave

Any thinking person who lived in Oklahoma when Scott Pruitt was a state senator and the Attorney General knew what the rest of the country was in for when he became head of the EPA.

One of his biggest flaws was his rejection of science.

In 2005 he told a radio interviewer that there are not “sufficient scientific facts to establish the theory of evolution”.

His connections and dealings with the moneyed and the oil and gas industry were questionable.

On a state senator’s salary of $38,400, he joined with a top republican donor and oil guy, and with a bank loan was able to help buy Oklahoma City’s baseball team, the Black Hawks, for $11.5 Million and sell it 7 years later at a profit.

He lost his bid to go to Washington as a representative and to be the state’s Lieutenant governor, but did finally get elected to be the state’s attorney general in 2010.

His first act as AG was to dissolved the Environmental Protection Unit in the Attorney General’s office, claiming he wanted to increase the operational efficiency of his office, and replaced it with the “Federalism Unit” whose job it was to fight President Obama’s regulatory agenda, sue the administration over its immigration policy, oppose the ACA, and eliminate both the Dodd-Fank reforms and the Consumer Protection Agency.

He got campaign contributions from fuel corporations which gave him $300,000 for his campaigns over the years.

I left the state and moved back to Massachusetts the year after he became the AG, but I did keep watching what Pruitt was doing in the state I called home for 18 years.

In 2013 Pruitt filed a lawsuit alongside the Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company and an energy industry group funded by a major financial backer of his in opposition to a regulation they did not like.

He sued the EPA to block the Clean Power Plan, again on behalf of Oklahoma utilities unwilling to follow regulations on their coal-fired plants, testified against the EPA in a congressional hearing, and by the time he went to Washington to lead it, he had sued the EPA 13 times mostly to help the oil and gas industry who faithfully continued to finance him.

He claimed the Supreme Court decision ending the Defense of Marriage Act had no effect in Oklahoma, and then, when a federal court declared that the Oklahoma voter-approved amendment in 2004 to the state constitution defining marriage as only the union of one man and one woman was a violation of the U.S. Constitution,  Pruitt criticized the Supreme Court when it refused to hear Oklahoma’s appeal in the definition of marriage case.

When there were questions about the management of the Tar Creek Reclamation Superfund lead-contaminated waste site near Miami, Oklahoma, he blocked the results of the audit by the State Auditor and Inspector, Gary Jones, from being released to the public.

A state’s rights champion, he joined a lawsuit targeting California’s prohibition on the sale of eggs laid by caged hens and went after Colorado for legalizing Marijuana.

After Oklahomans for Health collected the legally required number of signatures for a referendum on the ballot for the legalization of medical marijuana, he attempted to rewrite the name of the law to make what had been clear very confusing and misleading, and the time he wasted in trying to do this did prevent the question from being on the 2016 ballot as planned, delaying it until 2018, but  with the title as it had been written.

Pruitt used his office’s stationery to send form letters written by energy industry lobbyists to federal agencies during the time for public comments on a particular issue.

In 2015 he wrote a letter to school superintendents stating that schools can lawfully hand out religious literature on campuses, but judging from his defense of the Ten Commandment tablets being displayed on the grounds of the state capitol building and other comments and actions over the years, it was clear to most and cheered by some that the religious material would favor his religion..

When the Center for Media and Democracy made Freedom Of Information Act requests for emails of his communication with fossil fuel industries, he had to be ordered by the Oklahoma District Court to release thousands of them.

They showed that as Oklahoma’s Attorney General, Pruitt had acted in concert with oil and gas companies to challenge environmental regulations, using his letterhead on a complaint filed by one firm, Devon Energy, which is doing quite well in Oklahoma, and that the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers had provided his office with language to use in opposing ozone limits and the renewable fuel standard program in 2013.

As self-serving and dangerous to the people in his home state that his actions were, as head of the EPA, he gets to affect all of us nation wide.

According to The Washington Post,

“In legal maneuvers and executive actions, in public speeches and closed-door meetings with industry groups, he has moved to shrink the agency’s reach, alter its focus, and pause or reverse numerous environmental rules. The effect has been to steer the EPA in the direction sought by those being regulated. Along the way, Pruitt has begun to dismantle former president Obama’s environmental legacy, halting the agency’s efforts to combat climate change and to shift the nation away from its reliance on Fossil fuels.”

Regarding climate change, he has claimed carbon dioxide is not “a primary contributor to the global warming that we see”, a stance that contradicts the EPA’s public position published on the official website which stated, “Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change”. He removed several agency web pages containing detailed climate data and scientific information, issued a directive to stop litigants from pressuring the EPA to regulate, fired scientists from the agency’s 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors, intending to replace them with industry representatives, removed several scientists from EPA advisory panels, forbade any scientist who receives a grant from the EPA from then serving on those panels, and meets with industry representatives almost daily while rarely meeting with environmentalists.

He has removed, relaxed, or delayed 67 environmental rules, and, after it was there for twenty years, the Climate Change section on the EPA website was taken down in April of 2017

So far this year he has proposed a rule to relax the regulation of coal ash, that stuff that keeps getting into rivers and streams from which cities get their water supplies, postponed a new rule to limit liquid waste that is discharged into bodies of water by power plants, and has put a halt to a rule that requires mines to guarantee they can pay for reclamation.

If it benefits the bottom lines of the fossil fuel companies, regardless how bad it is for people, he is all for it.

Pruitt has been granting Renewable Fuel Standard waivers to several highly profitable refineries, one being the biggest and most profitable refinery companies in the nation which had net profits of $1.5 billion last year, when they are meant for small refineries experiencing unique economic hardship.

He wants to reduce regulations on auto emissions while reducing the requirements for auto manufacturers to  produce energy efficient cars. Inefficiency means having to buy more gas, and his friends make more money.

He has traveled to Iowa twice to promote the repeal of the Clean Water Rule.

And while doing these things and more, he has found ways to make his position in DC pay off for him (even more).

He has ignored the White House to give high EPA salaries to Oklahoma friends he brought to Washington with him, put a sound proof phone booth in his office and charged the taxpayers for it, pays $50 a night to stay in a condo owned by an oil-lobbyist,  although it would seem he owes some of that as he has missed some due payments, and has flown first class because he feels people in coach are mean to him, if not in action, in assumed attitude., and this makes him uncomfortable.

He continues to be good to his friends.

He has put the wants of lobbyists ahead of the needs of the American people, and treats companies that attempt to skirt the established rules and regulations like he should be treating those who follow both. He treats those who ignore the laws  politely while punishing those who don’t.

He is promoting cheating.

The whole country now has to deal with what had been limited to Oklahoma, and having lived there, I can assure you, you won’t like it.

Meanwhile at the Oklahoma state capitol

Oklahoma is a state with self defeating beliefs and practices.

It will cut corporate taxes, give subsidies to fossil fuel companies, and make all kinds of concessions to companies to come to the state without requiring they hire locally and keep their money in the state, and then establish ways to cover the losses to state revenue by taxing the people who have been living there.

Everything you buy in Oklahoma is taxed including necessities like food and clothing, and the money raised that way is used to improve infrastructure which on its face sounds good, but in reality those improvements are mostly beneficial to the subsidized companies with the citizens benefiting on an overflow, “trickle down” basis.

When the idea of a state lottery and tribal casinos was proposed in the most conservative state in the country which does more to please the Southern Baptist Convention than what is best for the citizens, the promise was that the money from both would go to public education.

At the time public education in Oklahoma was hurting, and the teachers speaking up about that were ignored.

As the money began coming in, rather than add it to school funding, the amount from the lottery and tribal casinos was used to substitute for school funding instead of being added, so the funding remained flat.

And in a state that values the oil and gas industry over education, this meant that as corporations and shareholders gained, the education of the children of the state was swept aside.

Teacher pay remained the second lowest in the country while teacher pay in surrounding states rose realistically. A person wanting to teach may have a commitment to the students, but that person also had a commitment to their own family and could not meet that at the wages the state offered.

Teachers went elsewhere.

School buildings aged, and without the funds that should have been available to maintain buildings and keep educational materials current, building spiraled past normal maintenance into the duct tape and Bondo condition, textbooks became old, dated, and too expensive to replace, desks became threats to student safety, classrooms became overcrowded with not enough desks or supplies, and conditions became so bad that teachers left and students stopped getting the individualized attention so necessary for effective learning.

It was as if the states intention was to guarantee that students learned little, questioned not at all, and accepted the mismanagement of the state by the legislature as if that was just the way it was.

The decline should not have come as a surprise.

Teachers had been pointing this out for years, but they were not corporation, and somehow teachers speaking in a unified voice was anti-American, was a betrayal of the Oklahoma Spirit”, some undefined and amorphous thing that could be invoked to shame people into blind obedience an acceptance, and a move against Jesus.

Hours, wages, and conditions of employment, with the latter dealing with good working environment, classroom conditions, class size, educational materials, and what would make the schools good learning environments for students, were things controlled in collective bargaining agreements, so the state demonized unions as collections of self serving thugs who hated children, somehow brought in religion, and lied to the people about the true nature of right to work laws.

Conditioned not to accept reality or question the people who had made the promises about lottery and casino money, most voters believed what they were told and voted against their own self interest.

Even in those work places that were not unionized, management would watch union contracts and stay close to them so their workers would not unionize. With right to work they no longer had to be wary of that and the hours, wage, and conditions of employment of the workers in the state became worse. Getting workers to hate unions because their members had good hours, wages, and conditions of employment somehow was effective because hatred came from jealousy and a blindness to their being able to get the same if they organized.

Rather than do what was necessary to get what was best for them, the easily led citizenry got angry at those who had.

Yet even as wages went down taxes went up to subsidize the losses created by corporate subsidies and tax breaks.

This last is now being used to turn the public against teachers as the legislators and governor continue the abuse of their citizens as they claim teachers want more money and are selfish that way.

The governor, Mary Fallin, has equated the teachers’ converging on the capitol to rally for better school funding to teenagers wanting a better car. Equating professionals to teenagers reveals a lot about her attitude toward teachers. Just because an adult has chosen to be in the classroom all day teaching students does not make them their peers.

In a state with a self created, but avoidable teacher shortage, some legislators have even suggested that if teachers did not like their low wages or the conditions at their schools, they should perhaps think of going elsewhere. Too many obviously have, and too few have seen any benefits in applying to teach in a state that notoriously disrespects its teachers and does not understand that to hire people, they should make it worth their while to teach there when respect and a decent wage can be had as close as the state across the line.

Once, when extolling the value of a good education to a class of seniors, I was asked by a student that if an education was the opening to a good paying job, why was I being paid the little I was.

And if it wasn’t bad enough and sadly so transparent when the legislators who treat education like a bastard child hidden in the attic attempt to claim that teachers do not like children, many have decided another way to vilify teachers is to claim that during the last few days with the teachers along with children and their parents converging on the capitol, they have been receiving death threats and threats of physical violence while to date no neutral observer, legal or media, has witnessed any threats or attacks, and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the Oklahoma Bureau of investigation have stated that no one as presented them with any proof of this.

What the teachers want is that the politicians stop pleasing their corporate overlords and do what they were elected to do.

They need to realistically fund education, pay attention to maintaining acceptable learning environments, allow for productive class size, make sure classrooms have the supplies and textbooks that are needed without having teachers use their money to buy them, and keep the teachers they have and attract the next wave of teachers by offering decent hours, wages, and conditions of employment that are competitive with other states.

That is why the Oklahoma teachers have gone to the state capitol.