Political Matters – November 2020

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By Mordecai Specktor

#4MoreYears in prison
I’m writing at the end of October, feeling apprehensive about the results of the upcoming elections. As I’ve made clear in recent columns, I favor the defeat of the Imperial Wizard in the Oval Office. Trump creates some new form of chaos each day he’s in power; and he poses a clear and present danger to this country and to the world. A second Trump term would be catastrophic – deleterious to the health of the planet and destructive of what’s left of American democracy.

“The Republican administration descended on the federal government, perverted the remit of federal agencies, and eviscerated federal departments in a fury of looting the national assets,” writes Darryl Pinckney in The New York Review of Books. The magazine featured a group of writers holding forth on the 2020 elections; Pinckney’s contribution was titled “A Society on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.”

He continues: “They hadn’t been convinced in 2016 they’d get in. Opportunists have been running amok ever since. No restraint at the top means the shit everywhere is so out in the open and undisguised that everything feels unprecedented. Too many white people would rather let bullies wreck the Republic than have democracy work if that would mean the system also working for people they prefer not thinking about. Plenty of nonwhites want to be white. Nonvoters and voters who didn’t care took it for granted that they’d be fine or just as bad off no matter who won. These bloody days have eliminated that category.”

It’s hard to know where to start with the debacle of the Pres. Dumbass administration. Of course, the nominal president downplayed and continues to minimize the danger from SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, which has killed more than 225,000 Americans – and the victims are disproportionally Native, Black and other people of color. Trump says, when he’s not advocating quack remedies, that we’re “turning the corner” on the virus. It’s a lie: Infections, hospitalizations and deaths are surging in most states.

The Dakotas and Wisconsin have been especially hard hit by the recent wave of infections. With the bungled federal response to the virus – really, a complete abdication of responsibility for a coordinated effort – the U.S. economy is in shambles. Small businesses are shuttering and entire industries have collapsed, with millions losing their jobs. The U.S. does not have an effective social safety net, and the Republicans in the Senate of late have focused on installing another right-wing justice on the Supreme Court, rather than passing a stimulus bill that would have benefited increasingly desperate families across the land.

Regarding Pinckney’s observation at the top that Dumbass and his cronies “perverted the remit of federal agencies, and eviscerated federal departments in a fury of looting the national assets,” at the end of October the Trump administration opened up 9.3 million acres of the Tongass National Forest in Alaska for logging. The Tongass is one of the biggest intact temperate rainforests, according a report in the Washington Post:
“For years, federal and academic scientists have identified Tongass as an ecological oasis that serves as a massive carbon sink while providing key habitat for wild Pacific salmon and trout, Sitka black-tailed deer and myriad other species. It boasts the highest density of brown bears in North America, and its trees – some of which are between 300 and 1,000 years old – absorb at least 8 percent of all the carbon stored in the entire Lower 48’s forests combined.”

Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist with the Earth Island Institute’s Wild Heritage project, told the newspaper: “While tropical rainforests are the lungs of the planet, the Tongass is the lungs of North America. It’s America’s last climate sanctuary.”

The Washington Post also reported in late October that the Trump administration has rolled back more than 125 environmental safeguards, which means “more pollution, drilling and logging, while weakening protections for animals such as bees, bears and birds.”

In our neck of the woods, American Indian tribes are fighting energy development and mining schemes that have the potential to pollute unceded treaty territories that provide subsistence for the people: wild rice, berries, fish and game.

And the recent removal of the gray wolf from the U.S. Endangered Species Act list is the latest outrage. The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), which works on behalf of Ojibwe bands in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, condemned the decision, according to the Star Tribune.

“The tribes have very ancient and traditional relationship with what we call ma’iingan – the word for wolf,” GLIFWC spokesman Dylan Jennings told the newspaper. “The tribes will take whatever means or avenues necessary to help protect their relative.”