Born in the USA…two of a mind

President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen will release a joint book, Renegades: Born in the U.S.A., on October 26th globally via Higher Ground/Penguin Random House.

…”A collection of candid, intimate, and entertaining conversations,” which began in Spotify’s co-produced podcast of the same name. Published in an oversized, fully illustrated format, the book will also feature rare and exclusive photographs from the authors’ personal collections and never-before-seen archival material, including Springsteen’s handwritten lyrics and Obama’s annotated speeches.

“Over the years, what we’ve found is that we’ve got a shared sensibility,” Obama writes in the book’s opening pages. “About work, about family, and about America. In our own ways, Bruce and I have been on parallel journeys trying to understand this country that’s given us both so much. Trying to chronicle the stories of its people. Looking for a way to connect our own individual searches for meaning and truth and community with the larger story of America.”

Springsteen adds, in the book’s introduction: “There were serious conversations about the fate of the country, the fortune of its citizens, and the destructive, ugly, corrupt forces at play that would like to take it all down. This is a time of vigilance when who we are is being seriously tested. Hard conversations about who we are and who we want to become can perhaps serve as a small guiding map for some of our fellow citizens.”

They are what they say they are. “Renegades” compared to the average American stuck into the two-party carousel. Pretty much straight down the middle of any road I ever marched on.

I started a few years before either. It’s been 61 years since my first sit-in in a drugstore in Virginia. But, then I’m older than either of them, as well. My heart, my understanding of class and history stands to the Left of either. But, unlike some of those partaking of political struggle in this benighted land, it ain’t a sect or religion. It’s just what needs to be done to find justice for all.

We can march together.

Trump’s lying ways spread throughout the administration

Trump promised that information from DACA applications would not be sent to deportation agents. But internal emails show that ICE can access databases where that information is kept — and DHS decided not to tell Congress…

The pledge was first made by the Obama administration, when it created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, eight years ago…Even after Trump announced that he was ending DACA, his administration assured immigrants that the information on their applications generally wouldn’t be sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

He lied.

The Trump administration left out the fact that immigration enforcement agencies already had access to databases containing detailed information, such as home addresses, about DACA recipients and millions of other immigrants.

Two weeks later, the communications show, the agency decided to leave that fact out of congressional testimony…

ICE declined to comment on its use of DACA data.

Trump has his own special virus. It feeds on his bigotry as much as his ignorance. And the thread that connects every instance of his corruption is his reliance, his willingness, to lie to anyone regardless of circumstances.

U.S. Has Special Forces in 149 Countries, Ambassadors in 144

❝ A strong legacy of U.S. leadership and engagement in global politics has been reduced today to what I call kinetic diplomacy – diplomacy by armed force.

As of March 2018, the Trump administration has appointed only 70 of 188 U.S. ambassadors. At the same time, it has increased the deployment of special operations forces to 149 countries – up from 138 during the Obama administration in 2016. So while U.S. ambassadors are operating in one-third of the world’s capitals, special operations forces are active in three-fourths.

❝ The use of military force expanded not only under the Trump administration, but under Barack Obama’s as well. Now the Trump administration and Congress are also cutting back on foreign aid.

As a scholar of international security, I’d like to suggest this raises two related questions: Does kinetic diplomacy advance U.S. interests, and how does kinetic diplomacy affect U.S. leadership abroad?

RTFA and decide. I recall when the American public debated changing the name of our War Department to the Department of Defense. We’ve not yet been invaded. But, the claim of “defense” always seems to justify sending our military abroad.

Left & Right Agree — Trump’s infrastructure order is plain stupid


Click to enlargeWhat downtown Houston might look like or worse

No one likes Trump’s new infrastructure order…The 2015 Federal Risk Management Standard update was supported by conservative and liberal groups alike.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump signed a new order that rescinded an Obama-era rule requiring federally-funded infrastructure to follow stricter building standards aimed at reducing flood-related damages. The Obama order also required that federally-funded infrastructure built along the coastline take into account future projections for sea-level rise.

❝ Trump’s order has already prompted swift backlash from across the political spectrum, with everyone from environmental groups to free market think-tanks arguing that there was little upside to rescinding a rule aimed at saving taxpayer money and preventing loss of life in flood-prone areas…

Since the Carter Administration, federal agencies have been required to avoid building in floodplains, but until 2015, there was no requirement that agencies that couldn’t — or wouldn’t — avoid building in flood-prone areas take extra steps to make those buildings resilient…Additionally, federal agencies constructing projects along the coastline were instructed to look at sea-level rise projections for the project’s lifetime, and take those into account when siting and building…

It’s called saving money, saving lives, by reasonable – maybe even smart – construction and siting.

❝ …Flood damage cost Americans more than $260 billion between 1980 and 2013, while federal flood insurance claims averaged nearly $2 billion per year between 2006 and 2015. Since 1998, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has spent almost $50 billion in public grants to help communities recover from federally-declared flood disasters…

Flood insurance requires all private development projects meet the guidelines just erased by Trump. Many local building codes echo national and international standards meant to save lives and ensure that residential and business structures will survive the disasters we’ve already survived – and will confront again.