American Horror Story

Dr. Malcolm Cross

A common feature of many horror stories, whether in books or on screen, is the sense of lingering menace at what is thought to be the end of the story, even after the hero has vanquished the villain.  Somehow, despite the best efforts of the hero, Jason, Freddy, Norman Bates, Doctor Lector, and Count Dracula always manage to make comebacks in the sequels.  Anyone who feels relieved that the impeachment trial of President Trump is over, that the verdict has been rendered, and that we can now move on fails to understand that regardless of whom you consider to be the heroes and villains of the piece, this is an ongoing American horror story, with menace lingering everywhere, for everyone.

The menace for President Trump is the ongoing threat of Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, and other Democrats to keep investigating him, this time using the putative testimony of former national security adviser John Bolton who, the Democrats believe, will offer more details concerning the President’s attempts to block aid to the Ukraine to extort help in the destruction of the Bidens.  No doubt other investigations of other aspects of the Trump Administration will be launched as well.  There are no double-jeopardy protections for defendants acquitted in impeachment trials, and no limit to the number of times President Trump himself can be impeached and tried.

The menace for the Democrats is President Trump himself.  It’s been frequently repeated that he runs a good chance of winning re-election because of his united base and the strong state of the economy.   The latest Gallup poll shows that his public approval rating is at an all-time high for him—49%.  Also helping the President is the Iowa caucus fiasco.  Political parties which seem disorganized and incompetent in the spring and summer of presidential election years normally lose in November.  President Trump’s re-election, while not a foregone conclusion, is nonetheless becoming more probable.

Mitt Romney, who’s either a hero or a villain, depending on one’s point of view, may not be in much immediate danger.  He’s independently wealthy, he has four years to go on his current Senate term, and if/when he runs for re-election in 2024 he no doubt will have compiled a solidly Republican voting record which will appeal to most of red Utah’s electorate, notwithstanding his vote to convict and remove President Trump.  But several of his fellow senators, whether they be red or purple state Democrats, or blue or purple state Republicans, face greater danger.  Democratic senators Doug Jones of Alabama and Joe Mancin of West Virginia may be especially vulnerable, given their vote to remove the President despite his great popularity in their ruby red states (of course, had they voted to acquit him, they would have faced the anger and the threat of being primaried by members of their own party).  Republican senators Susan Collins and Corey Gardner, from blue Maine and purple Colorado, respectively, faced a similar threat of being primaried by Republicans in their states; having avoided that risk by voting for the President’s acquittal, they will now have to deal with angry Democrats in general elections instead. 

And the menace will linger long after President Trump leaves the White House, whether it be in January of 2021, or January of 2025, or some other time in between.  Whenever a person or institution takes an action for which he, she, or it suffers no unacceptable penalty, a precedent is set for similar actions in the future.  Future presidents, emboldened by President Trump’s acquittal, may be tempted to push the boundaries of acceptable presidential conduct in ways we cannot yet foresee.  Future congresses, having now launched impeachment proceedings against sitting presidents 3 times in the last 45 years (as opposed to once in America’s first 185 years of government under our Constitution), may likewise feel emboldened to impeach future presidents more frequently.

And let’s not forget the menace to ourselves—We, the People.  No doubt impeachment efforts, past, present, or future, will continue to offer the dangers that will come from the decisions of presidents and congresses to divert attention away from national problem solving in favor of mutual assured destruction.

So, to paraphrase Barbossa in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, we should believe in horror stories.  After all, we’re living in one.


Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present).  He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014.  He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.

11 Comments

  1. Now Doc you know the Nuclear Plant in Glen Rose, Tx would never have been built if not from Socialism. Dwain Bruner would have ZERO General Motors were it not for Socialism. In fact General Motors wouldn’t even have been around to save by socialism in the Republican’s mind games over manipulating the thinking of the guys that change your oil. mow your yards build your houses and wait on your tables. Lets see and review 2000 thru 2008. That was George W. Bush wasn’t it Words of Mass Deception. It was such a big big big murderous lie that Bush wouldn’t all inspectors to finish inspecting because he knew his repblican claims were bogus. And the sewer to your house is a socialist idea. And your water bill is democratic socialist thing to buy common things to help all of us like Fire Trucks.

    https://www.alternet.org/2020/02/whit-house-budget-to-propose-savage-cuts-to-medicare-medicaid-and-social-security-while-hiking-pentagon-and-wall-funds/

  2. The Truth is ok for most humans. Some the truth won’t get them wealth. A guy told me its greed.

    https://www.alternet.org/2020/02/here-are-5-ways-trump-has-deepened-and-enlarged-the-swamp-he-pledged-to-drain/?utm_source=push_notifications

    Here are 5 ways Trump has deepened and enlarged the ‘swamp’ he pledged to drain

    It seems like forever ago when Donald Trump promised to “Drain the Swamp” if elected president. Well, it turns out this was one of the biggest whoppers in modern American politics.

    Here are five ways he’s made the swamp even swampier.

    1.He has packed his administration with former lobbyists and corporate executives. He has installed a former Boeing executive to run the Defense Department; a former pharmaceutical lobbyist to run the Department of Health and Human Services; a former coal lobbyist to run the Environmental Protection Agency, and a former oil lobbyist to run the Department of the Interior. In total, more than 300 lobbyists now work in the Trump administration – many in key positions overseeing the industries they used to lobby for.

    2. He and his family are personally profiting from the presidency. Despite Trump’s promise he’d sever all ties with his existing businesses and place all assets in a “blind” trust to eliminate any conflicts of interest, documents show Trump remains the sole beneficiary of his trust and still retains the legal power to revoke the trust at any time. Meanwhile, foreign dignitaries have flooded Trump’s hotels, lining his pockets in clear violation of the Constitution. He even attempted to host the G-7 at his own luxury golf course until he was forced to back down.

    3. He is catering to billionaires and corporations at the expense of the American people. In the fall of 2017, mega-donors shelled out more than $31 million in political contributions to Trump and Republicans. And in return, they got a massive $2 trillion tax cut. Not a bad return on investment. As Trump told his wealthy friends at Mar-a-Lago just days after the tax bill became law, “You all just got a lot richer.”

    4. He is using taxpayer dollars to subsidize his luxurious lifestyle. Since taking office, Trump’s golf trips alone have cost taxpayers more than $110 million dollars. His children have also charged taxpayers for costs associated with business trips around the world that they’ve taken, including India and Uruguay. Taxpayers even footed the bill for Donald Trump Junior’s hunting trip to Canada.

    5. The Trump administration has been riddled with scandals and ethics violations. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross held on to investments and never divested despite pledging to avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has tried to arrange meetings with Chinese officials for her family business. Ethics officials have found Kellyanne Conway broke laws that prohibit government workers from engaging in political activities. The list goes on, and on. This has been the most corrupt administration in American history.

    Trump is exploiting everything that’s vulnerable in our political system. But in order to truly stop the corruption of our democracy, we have to fix what’s broken. We must get big money out of politics, end the flow of lobbyists in and out of government, and strengthen ethics laws.

    Trump has enlarged and deepened the swamp, but the swamp was there before he got to Washington. One of the first tasks of the next president must be to drain the swamp once and for all.

  3. Dr. it’s not over. It’s just starting. Right now lets stop the one most visible and get opened the other ones like Biden’s but right now regardless of Party right is right and wrong is wrong. Barr is not doing his job as our Attorney but Trumps. Fact is Barr’s dad hired Jeffery Epstein at the Elite Dalton School and he is overseeing that investigation and CNN nor Fox are networks covering it and if so rarely with no depth. Its Harvard fiasco involved in that Epstein mess and Barr’s dad was fired from his position at Dalton And Barr the dad did not quit a guy named Ravitch fired him.

    https://www.nytimes.com/1974/02/20/archives/barr-quits-dalton-school-post-charging-trustees-interference.html

    Epstein hired not enough education and no teachers certificate.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/12/nyregion/jeffrey-epstein-dalton-teacher.html

    Barr wouldn’t recuse himself from E[stein’s case is father has loose strings in. Huh…

    ——————————————————————————————————————————————-
    https://www.alternet.org/2020/02/trumps-plan-to-unveil-next-round-of-tax-scam-just-before-2020-election-slammed-as-another-political-ploy/?utm_source=push_notifications

    Tax March’s Quint said Friday that “if Trump had wanted to help the middle-class, he would have done so already. Instead, he continues to push tax giveaways to the wealthy and major corporations while also proposing massive cuts to services that everyday Americans pay into and depend upon.”

    As Common Dreams reported Monday, just two days after promising that the White House “will not be touching your Social Security or Medicare,” Trump unveiled a budget blueprint for 2021 that calls for doing exactly that. Critics condemned the president’s proposal to cut hundreds of billions of dollars from those and other programs as “savage” and “shameful.”

    In a floor speech this week, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) tied Trump’s proposed safety net cuts to the administration’s “tax scam” for corporations and the wealthy.

    President Trump’s budget is his blueprint for how he wants to pay for his #GOPTaxScam – cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. pic.twitter.com/l5KKVHvjrp

    — Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) February 11, 2020

    https://www.alternet.org/2020/02/trumps-plan-to-unveil-next-round-of-tax-scam-just-before-2020-election-slammed-as-another-political-ploy/?utm_source=push_notifications

    Trump’s plan to unveil next round of ‘tax scam’ just before 2020 election slammed as ‘another political ploy’

    The Tax March movement responded critically on Friday after National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow revealed that President Donald Trump has instructed him to unveil the second round of what opponents call the GOP “tax scam” ahead of the presidential election in November.

    “Announcing an ambiguous set of so-called middle-class tax cuts just ahead of the November election is yet another political ploy,” Tax March executive director Maura Quint declared in a statement.

    “We know the truth: the first punch of the Trump tax scam brought higher taxes on working people to pay for the massive giveaways to billionaires and corporations,” she said. “And now, to top it all off, Trump is trying to land a second punch to our pocketbooks. The only promise Trump is fulfilling with this second round of tax cuts is his commitment to enrich the rich at the expense of working people.”

    When Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) into law in December 2017, he told reporters at the White House that “corporations are literally going wild over this, I think even beyond my expectations,” shortly after touting the legislation as “a bill for the middle class.”

    The TCJA slashed the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and included various other permanent benefits for companies and wealthy Americans. Although the legislation also included tax cuts for families and individuals, those benefits are set to expire after 2025. “And once the individual tax rates revert to their former levels, a stingier inflation gauge would raise taxes for most households,” CBS News noted in 2017.

    Fox Business reported Friday that the next round of the administration’s tax agenda is “a middle-class tax cut plan,” and that Kudlow said the president recently told him to “get it out by September,” just two months before Trump will face off with the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee.

    According to Fox Business:

    “It’ll come out sometime in September,” Kudlow told Fox Business‘ Maria Bartiromo.

    The administration, he said, will likely use the Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought’s $1.4 trillion budget request to craft the package and make tax cuts permanent.

    Kudlow said the administration plans to give the middle class a 10% tax cut in addition to strengthening and making permanent “some of the other tax cuts.”

    Chye-Ching Huang, senior director of economic policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, tweeted Friday that reporting on Kudlow’s comments was “yet another occasion for a reminder that the 2017 tax law was costly, tilted to the top, and invites tax gaming by the wealthy.”

    Yet another rumor of the Trump Administration working on “tax cuts 2.0” https://t.co/BndsI59L7W

    Yet another occasion for a reminder that the 2017 tax law was costly, tilted to the top, & invites tax gaming by the wealthy — & all attempts at “2.0” since then shares those flaws: https://t.co/Lb1dgl8q4z

    — Chye-Ching Huang (@dashching) February 14, 2020

    Tax March’s Quint said Friday that “if Trump had wanted to help the middle-class, he would have done so already. Instead, he continues to push tax giveaways to the wealthy and major corporations while also proposing massive cuts to services that everyday Americans pay into and depend upon.”

    As Common Dreams reported Monday, just two days after promising that the White House “will not be touching your Social Security or Medicare,” Trump unveiled a budget blueprint for 2021 that calls for doing exactly that. Critics condemned the president’s proposal to cut hundreds of billions of dollars from those and other programs as “savage” and “shameful.”

    In a floor speech this week, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) tied Trump’s proposed safety net cuts to the administration’s “tax scam” for corporations and the wealthy.

    President Trump’s budget is his blueprint for how he wants to pay for his #GOPTaxScam – cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. pic.twitter.com/l5KKVHvjrp

    — Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) February 11, 2020

  4. Denver Doggett used to say “every time the Republicans get in its bend over little folks cause you haven’t been sweating enough when you work for slave wages.”

    President Trump’s budget is his blueprint for how he wants to pay for his #GOPTaxScam – cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. pic.twitter.com/l5KKVHvjrp

    Lyndon Johnson intended medicare for the little folks and disabled.

    Trump couldn’t borrow a penny from an American Bank. Wilbur Ross was the largest Shareholder in a Bank of Cypress that Trump and Russian laundered money through for years. That stuff is all old you know from about the man that wouldn’t have time to ply golf because he’d be too busy working for us.

    The world is watching ONE man and enablers destroy a country they used to love and respect.

  5. You think I’m a Nancy Pelosi fan? A Bill and Hillary Clinton fan? Nancy Pelosi’s husband has over $1.5 million in Facebook stock. I joined in and signed petition and called her office a few years back because of their large holding in Del Monte stock ad a wage increase for workers of companies like Del Monte and she was taking claim and glory for then found out she had made an exception for that raise to Del Monte underpaid. She corrected it. You think I wasn’t go off the wall on Bill Clinton and Senator Phil Gramm who chaired the Senate Banking committee got rid of the Glass-Steagal Banking Act in 1999. Well hello 2007-08 tranche bailout of Wall Street. I didn’t vote for Hillary for President after the Special Group organized for her to be a member of and receive any profits made in the Trades of the Futures market. She got any profits the 40 plus members made.

    You got me all wrong if you think I am an all in democrat. I have voted democratic what few times I have voted because in spite of their royal padding their pockets have done more for women ad children. But the guy in now will destroy small town Erath County Republican party I always knew.

  6. Our Erath County Republican’s ain’t those kind of cat’s Trump surrounds himself with.
    Hugh Wolfe once wrote a letter to the Empire-Tribune saying we had some of the best living in the world in Erath County. Then once J. Lewis Evans wrote a letter asking why do they have to stick a microphone in everyone’s face.

    And just recently reading here in theflashtoday.com about the 4 year college in town not getting recognition until they were Div. 1 and continued reading to find out TCU in Ft. Worth, Texas roughly 72 miles northeast of Dublin,Texas would give them over $2 million to engage them with a game. That’s recognition? Well that 4 year college in town and spreading their recognizable name in a Tarrant County location is also getting pretty recognizable notice in Stephenville. I walked to a convenience store here a few months ago about week rotation of earth which gives the appearance of the sun rising and in few minutes I was told by a man that as he drove by the old Memorial Field he saw a replay screen stretched across the field being tested or something. Then within the last month a lady that is in a program designed and left in place by old people to continue getting old people assistance she showed me a cell phone pictures of of two signs the Stephenville Police said if she bought and put up then she could put those up and when Tarelton University had their home games then she just had to call the wrecker service. Well I know wrecker drivers and Tarelton Police and a few others at their University so I talked with them that she couldn’t even buy the signs at Wal-Mart and that she was older than me so post-hole digging what post hole digging wasn’t hr forte. She lives on Race Street and its a task for her to get her property tax dollars together. But she does and she is entitled to protection for Fire from this City or Town or whatever you want call it. City says dig in your pocket and then call the Tarleton Sports Brsuner wrecker service and give a Saturday afternoon headache to the driver and have them come haul off the car. Wow a fan comes back and the car is gone. Okay and he eats the charges which goes to Bruner Wrecker Service and the band plays on So I present to a Tarelton official why doesn’t Tarelton buy the signs and put them up because their unrecognizable program which isn’t getting recognizing their drive to get that Div 1 recognition and $2 million TCU will pay as the drive to get those microphones shoved in their face was getting a little recognition here locally. That official said “Oh those houses on Race Street Tarleton was going to buy”. And away they went I never got to to him that I knew and remember when the idea of making Tarelton a walking campus came to town from an idea Hugh and Earnestine Wolfe borrowed from North Texas State University while Hugh Wolfe was put on the Board of Regents at North Texas State University by the largest landholder at the time from Uvalde, Texas Dolph Briscoe also serving as Governor of Texas and that’s been awhile. In fact the Ultra Club and the Ultra sculpture were in their infanceat A&M’s little franchise college.

    I smell something ROTTEN COMING OUT OF RUSSIA and well aware of why George Herbert Walker Bush adopted Texas A&M as his home university. Because that is where whats called the Hitler Secrets were taken and he used that smart bombing to Kissinger Kill in Desert Storm. And doggone if George W. Bush didn’t use some with an invasion of the EXXONMobile attack on Iraq. Costing second gand citizens 5500+ children, fathers , sons husbands and mothers lives. A war the Brains of Bush Karl Rove said we’ll all get rich in. Not all us Karl because some of us were struggling to pay taxes. I smell rotten coming out of Texas A&M where the largest football stadium is available if you can get the tickets.

    Because you see Tarleton is getting recognized locally. But don’t worry A&M is gonna buy it. It’s a great place to live.

    Oh did Tarelton get a team or students quarantined returning from China? John Tarelton never flew. Hold the phone boys hold that phone and lets piece smooth out of the tapestry a bit smoother.

    P.S.

    A&M and Aggie graduates I know aren’t associated in this topic because the Aggie graduates I know most all are 3 putters if they can even get to the course to prove it.

  7. https://www.alternet.org/2020/02/jim-jordan-served-notice-by-osu-wrestler-other-things-are-going-to-come-out-and-its-just-going-to-get-worse/?utm_source=push_notifications

    Jim Jordan served notice by OSU wrestler: ‘Other things are going to come out — and it’s just going to get worse’

    Written by Matthew Chapman / Raw Story February 15, 2020
    The Ohio State University wrestling scandal has exploded back into national headlines with the accusation by former wrestler Adam DiSabato that Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) — who is accused of ignoring the sexual assault of his athletes by school physician Richard Strauss — called him and begged him to deny the allegations being brought forward by DiSabato’s brother Michael.

    On MSNBC’s “AM Joy” on Saturday, DiSabato warned Jordan that the scandal isn’t going away — and that more will come out that will make him look worse.

    “The congressman is calling you a liar,” said host Joy Reid. “Your response, sir?”

    “Well, in his statement, he didn’t say that he didn’t call me. I find that amusing, because, you know, he — he knows that he called me that day, and there’s proof and he doesn’t want to go there. So as far as the lie, I’ve already gone over this several times. I mean, it was blatant knowledge throughout our wrestling team, and there’s others that are going to come out on my behalf, and it’s just going to get worse.”

    “Jim Jordan is just a symptom of the bigger problem at Ohio State,” added DiSabato. “He had superiors, Russ Hellickson, who I just found out called me a liar as well. This guy, we have text messages of him sending it to my teammates telling them to flip. So these people are delusional. And, you know, it’s all going to come out and Ohio State is — it’s going to get worse, because there’s other things that are going to come out. You know, they — they don’t want to go there.”

    “And for — I was going to ask you, you say things are going to come out, is there specific evidence that you have, or that you or others that were victims or connected to victims at Ohio State have, that Jordan himself knew about the abuse that was taking place?”

    “Yes,” said DiSabato. “I mean, the fact that he called me on the Fourth of July. I haven’t talked to this guy in, you know — the last time I saw him was at my teammate Kevin Randleman’s funeral. And Kevin Randleman was a captain as well. If he was alive, he’d be sitting here next to me, you know, with the same story, because he was adamant against it as well. So, you know, to keep denying it is just digging himself a bigger hole. If he would have just came out at the beginning and said, hey, you know, our superiors did nothing, then I wouldn’t be here right now. You think I want to be here?”

  8. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/11022020/hunger-strike-nathan-phillips-natural-gas-compressor?utm_source=InsideClimate+News&utm_campaign=bd57492ea1-&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_29c928ffb5-bd57492ea1-327921145

    Crossing the Line: A Scientist’s Road From Neutrality to Activism
    Nathan Phillips, who just ended a 14-day hunger strike, said he was compelled to action by dissatisfaction with academia’s passivity and the fervor of his students.

    By Phil McKenna
    FEB 11, 2020

    BOSTON—A broken solar panel that once hung in the window of Nathan Phillips’ Boston University office now serves as a message board, propped against the wall next to the professor’s desk. Taped to the panel are faded yellow pages from The Daily Free Press, the university’s student newspaper—articles from the spring of 1986, when BU student Yosef Abramowitz staged a 14-day hunger strike demanding that the university divest from companies operating under South African apartheid.

    Phillips, an environmental scientist, thinks about Abramowitz a lot these days, ever since he began his own hunger strike two weeks ago, to protest what he says are public health and safety violations related to the construction of a large natural gas compressor station on top of a toxic landfill in Weymouth, outside Boston.

    “He showed me that you can force issues into the spotlight, that hunger strikes can do that,” Phillips said of Abramowitz. “He lost the battle, but they won the war.”

    The hunger strike—which he ended at about 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon—carried physical risks. Lanky to begin with, the 53-year-old Korean American professor has lost 22 pounds since he stopped eating on Jan. 29, and has been subsisting on unsweetened tea, sea salt and vitamin supplements.

    The protest also carried professional risks. He has been challenged by colleagues and his increasing activism—Phillips has been arrested for non-violent protests against fossil fuel projects three times since October—may lead other scientists, including some potential research collaborators, to question his methods and objectivity.

    Phillips says they are risks he has to take.

    “There’s really no other recourse that me or others fighting this battle have because the state and federal regulatory and executive agencies have failed the community,” he said. “They have washed their hands of this.”

    An Increasing Sense of Obligation
    Over the last decade, Phillips has undergone a radical shift from a scientist careful to maintain an apolitical stance to a researcher who disrupts pipeline construction projects, places his body in front of moving coal trains and occupies the offices of state regulators. It’s a change that began gradually, he said, fueled in part by growing disillusionment with aspects of academia, and propelled forward by the students he teaches.

    Like other scientists around the country, he’s endured the seeming disdain for science shown by the Trump administration, in particular for climate science, something the president has repeatedly called a “hoax.”

    Phillips is not the only scientist to respond by moving toward advocacy, as researchers with a front row seat to the extent and impact of climate change feel an increasing obligation to take on a more active role. Thousands of scientists now participate in the March for Science, an annual demonstration that began soon after Trump’s inauguration in 2017. More than 1,500 scientists recently signed a petition in support of Extinction Rebellion, an environmental organization that leads non-violent protests over climate change. And last fall, 11,000 scientists warned of a looming climate emergency in the journal BioScience.

    During his hunger strike, Nathan Phillips was challenged on treading the line between scientist and activist. Some colleagues questioned his ethics, which may have compromised Phillips’ ability to collaborate with fellow researchers. Credit: Phil McKenna/InsideClimate News

    The increasing activism by academics is not without precedent. During the Vietnam War social scientists played an active role in the anti-war movement, leading teach-ins and participating in hunger strikes, marches and the occupation of military buildings.

    But for scientists, activism comes with a cost. In the academy, there is an understanding, nearly as old as the scientific method itself, that there is a clear divide between what can be proved scientifically and moral judgment. When scientists engage in advocacy, at some point they cross a line that calls into question their ability to conduct objective research. Where exactly that line falls—signing a petition, taking part in a march, refusing to eat—is debatable. But the potential impacts, including the denial of tenure, ostracism from peers, or being overlooked for grants or awards, can destroy a career.

    A Wake-up Call He Could Not Ignore
    About eight years ago, a researcher Phillips collaborated with was dropped from a study because of what Phillips believes was a demand by a gas company participating in the research.

    “That was crushing,” Phillips said. “It was part of a waking up to the realities of corporate” interests.

    About the same time, Phillips read an opinion piece written by a grad student in The Daily Free Press, calling for divestment from fossil fuels.

    “I’m sitting in my Department of Earth and Environment, we’re doing all of this work on climate science, climate change adaptation, all of this and you get hit with this moral indictment of the university’s investments,” Phillips said. “You have to make a conscious decision to support it or a conscious decision to ignore it, and I chose to support it.”

    That December, he wrote an email to the rest of the faculty in his department calling attention to the burgeoning student movement and urging that the department take a stance on the issue.

    “It is clear to me that the students are on the right side of this issue,” Phillips wrote in the Dec. 5, 2012 email. “And it will be difficult for us as a university to talk-the-talk on sustainability if we don’t put our money where our mouth is.”

    Several of Phillips’ colleagues pushed back. In email responses, they noted that some former students worked in the oil and gas sector and that ExxonMobil had in the past sent recruiters to the department. Coming out strongly in favor of divestment, they said, might jeopardize such recruiting. One faculty member included a gentle reminder that their primary role at the university was as educators. Another noted that an oil company was funding a department research study. Phillips didn’t press the issue at the time but he now says he believes it was a clear example of the capture of academia by fossil fuel interests.

    “It’s a pretty clear statement that the money means there’s some limitations on speech,” Phillips said.

    The Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station protested the construction of a natural gas compressor in Weymouth, Massachusetts on Jan. 15. The site is located near low-income neighborhoods and could have serious health impacts. Credit: Anna Belle Peevey/InsideClimate News

    A month later, in early January 2013, eight students and recent graduates from BU and other area universities were arrested after chaining themselves together at a TransCanada Corporation, now TC Energy Corporation, office in Westborough, Mass., as part of a protest against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

    “Not only are these students calling for divestment, they’re literally chaining themselves to stop the Keystone XL pipeline from happening,” Phillips said. “I felt compelled to join them.”

    Still, he struggled with whether he was willing to go so far as to be arrested. He raised the prospect with a senior faculty member in his department whose advice he respected. The colleague told him not to do it because of the impact it would have on his career, Phillips said, recounting the conversation.

    But on Aug. 18, 2016, Phillips was among the protesters riding in a two-car caravan down Centre Street in West Roxbury, Mass.

    A deep trench ran down the middle of the street where construction workers were laying a large gas pipeline. The drivers of the vehicles came to a stop and Phillips and six other people he had just met got out and quickly walked past construction workers and traffic police to the roadway’s median.

    There, they descended into a trench at the bottom of which lay a 2-foot diameter steel pipe, a trench they would occupy for the next 30 minutes before police could remove and arrest them, charging Phillips and other protesters with trespassing and disturbing the peace. Phillips and others who contested the arrest were eventually acquitted.

    Descending into the trench, the streetscape noise of car traffic, jackhammers, and the voices of the police officers and construction workers went quiet. Phillips and the other activists held hands and sang songs. Time slowed. He felt calm.

    It was “like a cocoon,” Phillips said.

    ‘She Was Always Right’
    Activism was not the goal Phillips’ parents had set for him. The son of a Korean immigrant and a roofing contractor from Pennsylvania, he grew up in a working class family in West Sacramento, Calif., in the 1970s.

    The family’s home and neighborhood were a melting pot of identities and beliefs. Their neighbors were predominantly Mexican American. Phillips’ mother, Kyung-Hi Kim Phillips, fled what is now North Korea with her family as a young girl, led Bible study groups, and, like many Korean immigrants, retained strong Confucian values that she imparted to her children.

    There was an expectation that Nathan and his two older brothers would do well in school and that they would not do anything to dishonor the family. He excelled in the classroom and on the basketball court, but did not participate in student government or other political activities. In the Phillips family, bringing home a good report card was what earned praise.

    But as a child, Phillips recalled, he went with his mother on trips to the grocery store and sometimes she would be overcharged for an item, just a small amount, perhaps a nickel or a dime.

    His mother would ask about the mistake, and the cashier typically would apologize and provide the correct change. But sometimes, the cashier would say, ‘Don’t worry about it,’ because it was only a small amount of money. That’s when his mother would really dig in, Phillips said, telling off the cashier, not for the money but as a matter of principle.

    “She wouldn’t lose her temper, but she would hold the line, and she was always right,” Phillips said. “She would keep them to their word.”

    Phillips’ activism today reflects that same uncompromising devotion to what he thinks is right.

    He is less outraged by the Trump administration, he says, than by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, whose rhetoric on climate leadership doesn’t match his actions. Phillips calculates that the compressor station—the target of his hunger strike—would enable carbon emissions equivalent to more than one million vehicles per year.

    Map: Compressor Station Under Protest
    The Environmental League of Massachusetts recently gave the Baker Administration an “F” on environmental justice, in part for its mishandling of the permitting process for the Weymouth compressor station and the impact the station is likely to have on the health of surrounding, low income communities.

    “There’s been people who’ve spoken out about injustices on the basketball court or the football field and been told basically ‘shut up and play,'” Phillips said. “There is a perception that a scientist should shut up and write papers. I’m bucking that.”

    “I’m a dad,” Phillips said. “I’m a scientist. I’m concerned about the future, and these are inseparable parts of a whole person.”

    A Cost Exacted, An Outcome Unclear
    If he is physically in pain as a result of two weeks without food, he hides it well. Halfway through his strike he stood in the kitchen of his home, a modest single-family suburban house abutting the I-90 Turnpike, mixing a cup of matcha green tea with a healthy dose of sea salt. His eyes shone as he raved about the drink’s “brothy” flavor. The 6’2″ professor said he hasn’t experienced hunger pangs since the first few days of his strike and boasted that he has returned to what he weighed as a senior at River City Senior High School in West Sacramento, when he was a starting forward on the varsity basketball team.

    An avid cyclist, Phillips continued to ride nine miles from home to work each day during his hunger strike, but swapped his regular bike for an electric bike to help conserve energy. More than a form of transportation and exercise, he sees his daily commute as part political activism, pushing back against a car-centric culture. A row of bikes parked neatly in his front yard stand in almost willful defiance to the overpass that overshadows the home.

    Nathan Phillips with his bike. Credit: Phil McKenna/InsideClimate News
    Since beginning his hunger strike on Jan. 29, Nathan Phillips has lost 22 pounds. After his last meal, the only things Phillips consumed until Wednesday afternoon were unsweetened tea, sea salt and vitamin supplements. Credit: Phil McKenna/InsideClimate News

    While Phillips may emerge from the hunger strike with no lasting health effects, it remains an open question what the impact will be on his academic career.

    Rob Jackson, an environmental scientist at Stanford University and a visiting professor at the university’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, said that Phillips “is not an ivory tower professor, and I mean that as a compliment.”

    Still, he added, “I think activism can compromise a person’s ability to do objective research. There will be some people, likely in his own department, who believe he has crossed a line that professors shouldn’t cross.”

    Some scientists who are outspoken on the issue of climate change, particularly female scientists, have come under attack by climate deniers, and in some cases received threats that have left them worried for their safety.

    Phillips says he has recently been the target of similar attacks and acknowledges that his activism has probably already exacted a professional cost.

    He continues to map gas leaks around Boston, a line of research he helped pioneer, but says he wasn’t invited to apply for more recent, larger studies. “There’s a lot of work going on with mapping of gas leaks that is well supported and resourced, and I’m not part of any of that,” he said.

    Before launching his hunger strike, he said, he was chided during a faculty meeting for his activism, although he would not reveal exactly what was said or who said it. As a tenured professor, he has a certain amount of job security and the comments, he said, did not really bother him. What did bother him was that they were made in front of junior faculty members, who do not yet have tenure, and some graduate students who were also present at the meeting.

    “It’s about the subtle or maybe not so subtle signal that that sends to people in a more vulnerable job position about what’s politically acceptable,” Phillips said.

    In another instance, he heard that a senior faculty member from another university with whom he’d been discussing a possible collaboration said it would be better not to partner with Phillips on the project because of his increasing activism.

    Jackson, who has known Phillips for more than a decade and collaborated with him on several studies, said that taking a more critical look at Phillips academic work going forward is justified, but he doesn’t fault him for his activism.

    “If I come out strongly against something personally and then I go do research on it, people have a right to believe that my personal opinions might affect the outcome of my research,” Jackson said. “But God love Nathan for standing up for what he believes in.”

    An Uncertain Outcome
    On Tuesday, Phillips announced he was calling off the hunger strike and would begin eating on Wednesday, five days after presenting a series of three demands to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection at a meeting.

    In his demands, Phillips had called for better decontamination of dump trucks leaving the compressor station site, permanent air quality monitoring there and additional asbestos testing of bricks buried deep in the soil.

    At the meeting, Millie Garcia-Serrano, the state DEP’s southeast regional director, announced that a temporary air monitoring station was already in place, though some results wouldn’t be available until July. She said she would see how the agency could meet the other demands.

    “It would pain me as a human being too for you to walk out of here feeling frustrated and to elongate what I know has been I’m sure physical pain,” Garcia-Serrano said.

    A spokesman for Enbridge Inc., Max Bergeron, told InsideClimate News on Wednesday, “We are proceeding with construction activities for the Weymouth Compressor Station with public health and safety as our priority….”

    Phillips said he is still not satisfied but that, if nothing else, he has intensified pressure on the state agency to “simply do its job.”

    There is little question that he is now an activist, no matter where one draws the line, and in a very public way. His mother, now 87, still doesn’t know this. But, he said, he plans to tell her, although maybe not about his arrests.

    “I think they would roll their eyes at what I’ve been doing,” Phillips said of his mother and his father, who is recently deceased. “But I think when they when consider why I’ve done this, they would be proud.”

  9. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/economy/trillions-of-dollars-in-bank-bailouts-socialism-for-the-rich

    Let up on the people and stop scaring people with lies…

    Trillions of Dollars in Bank Bailouts: Socialism for the Rich?
    Economy Sep 19, 2012 10:24 AM EST

    Photo of the Federal Reserve by: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Paul Solman frequently answers questions from the NewsHour audience on business and economic news on his Making Sen$e page. Here is Wednesday’s query:

    Bill Harshaw: Sen. Bernie Sanders in July 2011 said: The first top-to-bottom audit of the Federal Reserve uncovered eye-popping new details about how the U.S. provided a whopping $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. An amendment by Sen. Sanders to the Wall Street reform law passed one year ago this week had directed the Government Accountability Office to conduct the study.

    “As a result of this audit, we now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world,” said Sanders. “This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else.” This seems to have become a meme on the left. Could you explain?

    Making Sense

    Paul Solman:I could try. The $16 trillion dollar total is, to my mind, a wildly inflated number. Bloomberg.com, which was reporting this story last year, came up with a total of $1.2 trillion, pretty much the amount people originally thought the Fed had pledged at the time of the Crash of ’08. Here’s Bloomberg on the difference between its number and $16 trillion, as explained by Phil Kuntz and Bob Ivry:

    “If a bank borrowed $1 billion overnight for 100 nights, Bloomberg’s analysis would show that the bank had a $1 billion balance at the Fed for 100 days; the GAO method that produced the $16 trillion total would sum up those transactions to $100 billion, even though the bank never owed more than 1 percent of that total.”

    The Fed takes it on the chin from both the Right and the Left. But I can’t for the life of me see that it had any good alternatives to bailing out the banking system when it did. At the time, neither did almost anyone else. That’s the Fed’s raison d’etre: to act as “the lender of last resort” when the credit system seizes up. Is the moral hazard of too-big-to-fail banks, well, too big?* On his Baseline Scenario blog, Simon Johnson has been among the most eloquent and vehement of those arguing yes. I am not about to disagree with him. But the big banks were called “too-big-to-fail” for a reason: they really were.

    Simon Johnson adds:

    “Agreed. These banks became known as TBTF precisely because no one wanted to contemplate ‘another Lehman.’ Unfortunately, once the banks received unconditional government and Fed financial support, they were able to become politically powerful again. The biggest banks today are bigger, collectively, than they were in the run-up to the 2008 crisis. Looking forward, the moral hazard problems are likely to get worse, not better.”

    *- For teachers, we have a classroom lesson on the concept of moral hazard here.

    As usual, look for a second post early this afternoon. But please don’t blame us if events or technology make that impossible. Meanwhile, let it be known that this entry is cross-posted on the Making Sen$e page, where correspondent Paul Solman answers your economic and business questions

  10. Anywhere there is dime to be had Trump’s people are there. This time the alligator is the Secretary of Education DeVoss and they have 10 yachts and huge boats of Amway wealth.

    https://www.alternet.org/2020/02/obama-closed-an-agency-that-accredited-a-university-with-no-faculty-or-students-then-betsy-devos-saved-it/

    Obama closed an agency that accredited a ‘university’ with no faculty or students. Then Betsy DeVos saved it

    Written by Daily Kos February 16, 2020
    If you have never heard of Reagan National University, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, you’re not alone. But like many small colleges you’ve never heard of, this one boasted (at least until this month) full accreditation as sanctioned by the federal government.

    There’s just one small problem.

    By all appearances, at present it has no students, no faculty and no classrooms.

    As an investigation for USA Today by Chris Quintana and Shelly Conlon found, this institution of higher learning was accredited by the Department of Education under the auspices of Trump-appointed Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. Or more precisely, it was accredited by an “approved” and sanctioned agency of DOE with a track record so dismal that, back in the good old days (known as the “Obama administration”) when the federal government was actually being run by competent people who worked for the interests of American ciitizens, it had been summarily shuttered and put out to pasture.

    The agency in question, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges & Schools, has a history of approving questionable colleges, with devastating consequences. It accredited ITT Tech, Corinthian Colleges and Brightwood College, massive for-profit universities whose sudden closures last decade left thousands of students without degrees and undermined the value of the education of those who did graduate. Those closures led President Barack Obama’s Education Department to strip ACICS’ powers in 2016.

    After a Federal Judge ruled that the Obama Administration had failed to consider a substantial number of documents that ACICS had submitted to appeal its closure, DOE was ordered to reconsider its decision, which it did. DOE career employees again found that ACICS failed to meet appropriate standards in its accreditation process.

    But by then Trump acolyte and billionaire-by-marriage Betsy DeVos, who, following standard Trump-appointee procedure, was proceeding to reverse every single action taken by the prior administration, no matter how sensible or helpful to the American people, had begun to remake the Department. DeVos reinstated the ACICS agency despite its horrid past record of promoting colleges that exist solely to rip off American students (usually poorer ones and disproportionately students of color).

    Since its short-lived disbandment, the agency had lost many colleges as “members” and, as Quintana and Conlon note, lost their “membership fees” as well. It needed money, and fast. So, apparently it was time for some quick calls to those “institutes of higher learning” out there.

    Accreditation is the key to obtaining federal grant and loan money for students who want to attend college. Of course, that money then goes straight to the “accredited” college. But as USA Today found out, “Reagan National University” is a very strange college. To begin with, when the reporters attempted to learn more about the college itself, its website links were all dead. They still are.

    Adding further to the mystery, “[n]o students or graduates could be found on LinkedIn or Facebook.”

    When USA Today tried to contact faculty from this so-called college, they could find none. People whose names were listed on the “college’s” website swore they’d never heard of or taught at Reagan National University. Other names had absolutely no internet history, something quite unusual for academics. Phone calls to the University ended in curtly disconnected lines. Attempts to physically visit the school were similarly unavailing, yielding locked offices. Peering through the window, a vacuum cleaner and some insulation were visible.

    As the USA Today investigation found, ACICS specializes in accrediting “for profit” colleges, the same ones notorious for ripping off students with phony promises of inflated job prospects and providing worthless degrees. But since the Obama administration shut it down, its members have dwindled from 290 in 2016 to 63 at present. ACICS told USA Today that Reagan had somehow met its stringent accreditation standards, but it refused to provide any details on how that may have occurred.

    Michelle Edwards, CEO and president of ACICS, defended the council’s accreditation process in emails this month to USA TODAY. ACICS first accredited Reagan in 2017, though Edwards said the university had to address some areas where it was initially out of compliance. She declined to say what those areas were.

    But hey, ACICS pulled out all the stops to get Reagan National U. up to snuff! In January 2019, it sent an (apparently) sternly worded letter to its accredited so-called college, informing Reagan that its job placement rate was a whopping 0%. Of course, the agency’s standard procedure provided a window of time for an institution to “show cause” why its accreditation should not be pulled in such an instance. For Reagan, that “window” expired in May, 2019. According to the agency CEO, “Reagan” provided some sort of satisfactory information to ACICS (we’re not told what that was), and the “show cause” order was lifted.

    But in December, 2019, ACICS really laid the hammer down.

    This time accreditors raised concerns about the language in a course catalog and the university’s grading system. It also hinted at more existential issues, such as a lack of evidence of a qualified person to run the business programs. And the computer science program didn’t have the materials necessary to teach.

    It’s not clear who ACICS was talking to at “Reagan,” if they were actually talking to anyone at all. This entire shoddy episode reeks of either purposeful negligence or something worse. As Antoinette Flores, with the Center for American Progress who studies accreditation asks, how could this agency possibly have accredited a “school” with no faculty and no students?: “You accredited this institution. How did you miss this?”

    In February of 2020, while USA Today was conducting its investigation, “Reagan National University” voluntarily withdrew its accreditation.

    And FOX cable just hypnotizes on.

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