Ethics Are So Last Administration…

It has been difficult–sometimes nearly impossible–to find policy consistency in the Trump administration. Certainly, looking to His Craziness for anything remotely like an ongoing strategy (other than enriching himself and bragging) is a lost cause. But there has been one exception to the chaos rule.

The environment.

From its first day, the Trump administration has waged war on the EPA. Scientists have been summarily dismissed. Enforcement has been dramatically reduced. Years of solid research have been ignored. Rules put in place based upon considerable evidence have been rolled back. Controls on mercury? Gone.  Regulation of toxic substances in consumer goods? Gone. Safeguards against repeats of the disastrous BT spill? Gone.

Publications like National Geographic and Scientific Amerrican have kept running lists of the protections that this administration has gutted. Last December, the New York Times had an article focused on “95 Environmental Rules Being Rolled Back Under Trump.”

Clean air, potable water–clearly not as important as the bottom lines of friends of the administration.

That this administration has no ethical core will come as no surprise to anyone even casually following the news. The cabinet members appointed by Trump seem uniformly chosen for their willingness to destroy the agencies they are supposed to serve. As damaging as this has been in other agencies, it has been most destructive–and most incomprehensible–at the EPA.

Who doesn’t want drinkable water? Who wants to encourage use of chemicals that are demonstrably cancer-producing? How much lobbyist money in the pockets of GOP officials is enough to make them unconcerned about the air their grandchildren will breathe?

I find these questions baffling.

Back in January, The Hill ran a story about the “ethics” of the people Trump was appointing to the EPA.

A House Oversight and Reform Committee review found the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) let political appointees take months to sign required ethics pledges and compile recusal lists, allowing leaders to work on issues where they had substantial conflicts of interest, the panel argued.

An executive order signed during President Trump’s second week in office requires federal employees to avoid working with former clients for their first two years.

“These documents indicate that EPA allowed senior agency officials to avoid or delay completing required ethics forms and that EPA was missing forms entirely for some officials,” committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and subcommittee Chairman Harley Rouda (D-Calif.) wrote in a letter to the agency.

“The Committee identified multiple instances in which EPA officials failed to complete required ethics documents or sign ethics pledges required by Executive Order 13770.  EPA also allowed officials to delay the finalization of critical ethics agreements for significant periods of time after joining the agency.”

In one case–labeled  “egregious,” in the analysis– an EPA employee took 300 days to finalize his recusal statement–and in the interim, took the lead on a number of air regulations “beneficial to former clients from his days as a coal, oil and gas lobbyist”.

The EPA has been staffed with numerous former lobbyists at the same time that it has been divested of scientists. The attacks on environmental regulations have been consistent–despite the demonstrable success of those regulations in cleaning the air and water, and reducing deaths attributable to pollution.

Again, my question is: why? We all have to occupy this planet. We all have to breathe the same air and drink the same water. What political or monetary advantage is more important than the lives and health of our children and grandchildren?

Are these–and others like them– just people who reject science and evidence?

Are the people dismantling the EPA all bought and paid for possessions of fossil fuel interests? Or are they members of the pseudo-religious “God will take care of us, no need to do our part” cult?

Have they identified another habitable planet, and found a way to get there?

I really don’t understand.


  1. Sheila,

    “Have they identified another habitable planet, and found a way to get there?”

    “I really don’t understand.”

    Maybe this can help:

    “My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”
    ~Grover Norquist

  2. Most of them are “bought and paid for,” but in addition, some of them just don’t seem to care. After all, they have spent years working for corporations whose profits depend on skirting regulations, so they are used to thinking that regulations are “burdensome.”

  3. as long as the billion,airs, have there own little world to rule,for now,they see the bottom line first.. seems the only enviroment they see,is that fine landscaping job at one of their many private acreages….they can merely move on to some boat,fly away,buy another island,country, and settle in while we work to,support them..the con game is fully exposed,and still we merely wave the flag and allow them more room to move around.(laws and privileges granted by those elected) some rich asswipe just had a real broker here in NoDak find a hideout for him.,them??she said (the broker)they would pay up to $16K a month for immediate housing..(she approached the people i work for)no regard by agent to tell him to move on,we dont want what your bringing with you. greed baby,greed… like the present admin,its filtered its style of who cares,as long as “the money rules class, “can get what they want..seems they all figure were only here for a short time,and who caresas long as im happy..
    ill pass on a past subject here,and you can think about a final line.. its about mcconnel in a interview whereas he said, basically, if the states need a bail out,because they can not make the bills,suport the people etc, dont come to me….mmm, yesterdays subject,alive again..sorry, i need this to come out, and when , if any state,does belly up, and had to beg for money because of its mismangement etc, will they turn to hedge funds for a bailout,like Puerto Rico? think about that..we have allow money to buy up everthing already. why not a state? the end game of mcconnels?, I still say, everything goes,,the currency the fed reserve, the goverment, given to wall streets not dreaming…but i believe its possible..
    best wishes,washdapaws,, im workin, and best of all, i get to have those face to face discussions, with the working class a safe distance…

  4. Jack,

    “…the con game is fully exposed,and still we merely wave the flag and allow them more room to move around.”

    Is it a “white flag” or just a “yellow” one?

  5. It Is Difficult to Get a Man to Understand Something When His Salary Depends Upon His Not Understanding It. Upton Sinclair

  6. Well, Newt wants to colonize the moon. 45 wants to go to Mars (the planet, not the candy factory). We all know “Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids,” but 45 doesn’t care much about kids until they’re old enough to add to the family coffers.

    One other thing we know is that the Republicans believe in whatever will benefit them. Why do you think 45 cited climate change in his request to Ireland to be allowed to build a seawall around his golf resort?

  7. While I’m pondering all of this I’m going to kick back and follow the President’s advice and have a nice cold glass of lemon-scented Lysol on the rocks. Cheers!!!

  8. What gets measured gets done. When there are no consequences, dat ol devil moon rules.

  9. Thank you, Tom Lund, for bringing us back to today’s reality. I am having trouble forming cohesive thoughts as Republicans remain mute and idle with Trump prescribing deadly injections. He does know better than to recommend drinking Kook-aid; but Jim Jones wasn’t trying to cure a Pandemic, he was carrying out genocide.

    Intelligence is also “so last administration” and it doesn’t require intelligence to have ethics; simply knowing right from wrong.

  10. Let’s not forget that Citibank chose Obama’s administration, and not one fraudulent Bankster was jailed for their wrongdoings.

    Ethics and religion are for the masses to keep them in place, so they don’t get any ideas about how badly they are getting screwed and decide to take matters into their own hands, as Marv suggests we do.

    Once again, profit via consumption drives our society and has since WW2. You can thank Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, for assisting in the design of mass consumerism. Corporations got larger and larger and larger.

    Albert Einstein noticed in 1949 that the Oligarchic control of institutions was already beyond having their power checked by any government. When our government officially cashed in and began working for the Oligarchy is debatable. I would say since our inception.

    Anybody watching can see that the people are being used for their productive capacity. Period. We are easily sacrificed and replaceable. Some people are slaughtered more quickly than others. Watch closely as society begins to “open up.”

    Hoosiers have been sacrificed in abundance for food and energy production for decades. IDEM and the EPA are just letters.

  11. Tom, Lol.
    A little Lye is good for what ales you.

    K O C– Kill Or Cure. Well, umm kill anyway!

  12. The Trumpet is the King of Chaos. There is an old children’s rhyme:
    Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,
    To see a fine lady upon a white horse;
    Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
    And she shall have music wherever she goes

    In the case of The Trumpet,, “He shall have Chaos wherever he goes”.

    The latest is: Coronavirus: medical experts denounce Trump’s theory of ‘disinfectant injection’

    Just a snippet from the article:
    William Bryan, the acting homeland security undersecretary for science and technology, said at the briefing: “Our most striking observation to date is the powerful effect that solar light appears to have on killing the virus, both surfaces and in the air. We’ve seen a similar effect with both temperature and humidity as well, where increasing the temperature and humidity or both is generally less favorable to the virus.”

    Let me think it sounds like the best way to cure Corona is to construct a “Greenhouse” for the solar light, and then a steambath (high temperature and high humidity). A Green House-Steambath, wow. Who needs PPE, and a vaccine when you can be “cured” in the Green House-Steambath. Top it off with Lysol on the rocks – Shaken not stirred.

    What will see now?? The Trumpets lining up with their camouflage -gear and Ar-15’s to buy Lysol.

  13. Well, we’ve all been flogging this EPA/environmental disaster since, virtually, 20 January 2017. It was a forgone series of events. One has to look not much further than Trump’s and Republicans’ donor lists to understand why the Earth is being destroyed for the sake of money. It’s a massive grift. When donors with 7 -9 figure incomes dump millions upon the heads of fundamentally corrupt politician wannabes, voila! They got what they paid for.

    “Are the people dismantling the EPA all bought and paid for possessions of fossil fuel interests? Or are they members of the pseudo-religious “God will take care of us, no need to do our part” cult?

    “Have they identified another habitable planet, and found a way to get there?”

    The cult is the excuse to loot and plunder the environment just as so many wars have been based on religious edicts invented by humans on the spot to justify murder, rape and plunder. Today’s cultists are in silk suits, have body guards, drive/ride in long, black cars and give not a single crap for anything else. Oh, and these same cultists put their massive profits in off-shore banks so they won’t be taxed. You know, that quaint system that allows a society to exist.

    They just don’t care about anything except profits and power to make more profits. Marx knew this almost 200 years ago and warned the world what was coming. Why do you think capitalists are so paranoid about unions and working classes?

  14. This conversation today is key in relationship to November. The young people (including the Berns) are VERY concerned about climate change since they, not we, will feel that burn.

    We must ride that issue with them hard to get them off their bums to the polls…

  15. Marv,
    in yachting, the yellow flag with a red square, quarenteen,,,,until cleared..

    i think away back when we use to boycott items. like gallo wine and the UFW.. we have a issue with how to fight back.. Amazons profit margine went through the roof. and since they now control alot of small package shipping,for the immediate fulfilment class, beaware,you are making a emmision statement.. plus, now that Amazon and such,are tieing up shipping. i recently wanted to send a half a cow hide, tanned,and high quality to a friend out east from,NoDak.. weight 8 lbs,cost $175.00 …thats not a mistake.. so, now we have,Amazon like shippers, about guarenteeing their market price and shipping over your need to send anything to anyone.. theres alot of trucks now, just running amuck, and spreading more emmissions,so the public can be satisfied,NOW! i have a amazon receipt of $2.59 cents for shipping from seattle, to NoDak,, 10lbs… imagine was not my order,i saved it from a aquaintance who i do some work with.. i do not believe amazon has the cost on their package anymore,,but the air has the pricetag… tell jeff to shove his trucks up,,,,buy local,and keep main street alive..

  16. ETHICS?

    I haven’t given it the long analysis needed, but my preliminary thinking is decidedly on the side of “Long Term Vision or Farthest Horizon Orientation” as being equal to or superior to ethics.

    The flaw in Ethics is that ethical determiners can be anything that seems useful for short term thinkers and the hereafter-myth-suckers but is a mammoth failure for everyone in between.

    Ethics is an easy tool for authoritarian leaders, because ethical rules are ironclad and authoritarian by nature. It’s easy to cherry pick which ethical rule gets the greatest short-term results. Example: Our Christian ethics do not allow the killing of the unborn but now “justifies” all manner of atrocities.

    In my experience with Montagnards of Vietnam and the Tzeltal, Maya, Oaxaca, Mixtec, Zapotec, Tzotzil peoples of southern Mexico and my reading about ethics in other cultures, a people’s ethical code almost always evolved from those practices that have proven most apt to achieve short term results, especially for the dominant caste.

    I’ve also noticed that the presence of a code of ethics creates a new blood sport–THE GAME OF FERVENT–he or she who is most extremely fervent wins.

    In contrast, the dominant presence of a code of Long Term Vision or Farthest Horizon Orientation, will tend to create a new thought sport–THE GAME OF WISDOM–he or she who proves wisest wins. It’s a long game but extremely interesting.

  17. Ethics, like economics, is man-made, and “Him what’s got the gold makes the rules,” as the old adage goes. Our task in a democracy (also contrived) is to change who makes the rules via a process we call government (likewise contrived). Perhaps, given this measure, a regulated capitalism would be helpful in determining who has the gold and thereby the power to shape our mores, folkways, morals, ethics etc., a power currently in the grasp of the few with the gold.

  18. Gerald – right, but we need a dual focus. Fix some processes….e.g. don’t pass bills without study of how bad actors might take advantage for themselves and sharply reducing the likelihood of such AND elect servant leaders to make/pass laws, instead of those at the service of themselves and/or special interests. “It takes two, baby….”

  19. Most of us have very limited exposure to the world and it’s mostly to those who live roughly like we do, people who we talk to on many (normal) days. Some work to expand this worldview but most enjoy keeping it limited to people who are easiest to relate to. Jack talks about his trucker friends, and Sheila about her academia and public servant friends, and I about my engineering friends and most everybody about their parenting and grand-parenting experiences.

    What would we find if we followed Trump around for a few months? I imagine he’s an inspiration at Mara Lago. There’s a guy who really knows how to really live.

    They don’t care about ethics there but have a lot of respect for ruthlessness.

  20. We can pontificate about the failings of the previous administration until those proverbial cows come home or we can gird ourselves for the real battle we have, and I do mean have, which should be Job #1 – to get this utter maniac out of the WH as soon as we can. While I was listening to him rattle off his Lysol panacea I couldn’t help but wonder what his thinking, if that’s what one wants to call it, is about the emerging strategic balance in Europe and also in Southwest Asia along with, of course, the Middle East and with the latter the Persian Gulf especially. If what we’ve heard since yesterday is representative of his actual cognitive abilities then the COVID19 is merely one potential catastrophe among several this “man” could get us into at the drop of his MAGA hat.

    With Pompeo saying that long term American funding of the WHO is gone as well then we, all of the world, will be facing famine, disease and all sorts of things and that lack of aid and comfort via the WHO and affiliated international aid organizations will lie squarely at this country’s feet with even more likely threats arrayed against us.

    Logically, he would be Article 25’d by his Cabinet given his completely dangerous and erratic behavior but they are all churls and sycophants so that won’t happen. Likewise Moscow Mitch’s majority in the US Senate won’t act either in the face of Trump’s Twilight Zone behavior. We are in one heck of a mess, one that might be too large to fix with a large chunk of Americans disengaged and also, and quite logically, in hiding.

    We can’t just sit back and do nothing about this unless we are all prepared for the hugely dreadful consequences that loom ahead for all of us that will occur if we sit on our hands as we have been doing so far. To quote the Marine Corps basic dogma – we have to react, adapt, and improvise and we need to do it in a hurry as time is short and also very innocent lives are also being gobbled up quickly as a consequence of Trump’s idiotic failings and the failing of governance overall.

  21. One cannot expect rational thought from irrational people.
    We clearly have people in power whose narcissism doesn’t allow them to consider ANYTHING but their own agenda and personal comfort. CHILDREN — they can deal with shit later. PLANET — looks big enough to handle anything. What’s important is making $$$$$$ NOW!!!
    No sense in wasting time and energy trying to figure them out.

  22. Profits. I keep reading on this blog that “they don’t care about anything but profits”.

    Sorry, but that is wrong, wrong in that it is incomplete. One word is missing–“Immediate”.

    They don’t care about anything but IMMEDIATE profits.

    If they cared about long-term profits, their behavior and policy would enhance and support society a lot more than it does now, because long-term thinking would compel them to act to create perpetual demand for their product or service rather than immediate profits at the expense of the future.

  23. The old marine mantra, “react, adapt, and improvise”, has it’s merits, but I like Marv’s oft-repeated incantation better: skate to where the puck will be, instead of to where it was.

    Bob Knight preached, READ AND REACT.

    Israeli Defense Policy calls it PREEMPTIVE ATTACK, which can be a little rash when the READ is faulty.

    So much depends on the READ, and the rest depends on the WILL and RESOURCES.

  24. jack; I recently order 2 pair of Chic denim capris from Amazon, received the order confirmation with correct information. On Wednesday I received my shipping confirmation; checked it and it didn’t list the item but listed half of the cost of my order so I rechecked the confirmation. It had been changed to 2 separate order of 1 pair of capris each, both had the same order number but only one listed as shipped. Due tomorrow but I’m still trying to understand if Chic only had 1 pair of denim capris in stock. Never had this happen before with multiple items, am seriously considering whether to order from Amazon again as this makes no sense.

  25. It’s not an “old mantra” Larry. It’s just as current as what Marv said with all deference to Marv. It helps Marines prevail in battle which is something we must do as well against all that’s arrayed against us including those that feel that putting UV lights inside our bodies to ward off pandemics is a great idea.

    Semper Fi!

  26. Tom,

    I agree. All I’m saying is do something that works. We must have the capability for pre-emptive action based on a “deep” understanding of the deviant oligarchy. They’re behind almost everything that counts. That’s the way the game is played, whether we like it or not. And our continuing failure to do that is the major reason why we are descending, non-stop, into a “living hell.”

  27. Larry Kaiser nailed it – the disease of the modern business world is the “what’s in it for me THIS QUARTER” mentality. The Robber Barons were “entrepreneurs” who wanted empires; today, we have “serial entrepreneurs” and corporate hoping CEOs who maximize the short term and leave, the future be damned.

    My favorite examples from my early years in IT – Everyone knew that Y2K was coming and code changes were needed. Most companies waited until 1999 when the cost of the fix skyrocketed.

    Second anecdote was EDS under Dick Brown – his MO was to buy companies, taut the increased “book” of new projects, have massive layoffs, and collect huge annual bonuses. He made tens of millions of dollars, fired tens of thousands of people — and lost ten billion dollars in stock value before he was given his golden parachute.

    Again, as Larry brought up, if people complain that video games give today’s youth a short attention span, it is nothing compared to what modern “capitalism” has done to the business elites.

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