Trump’s First 100 Days  By some measures, Trump is easily beating previous presidents.  For example, did you know that the Office of Government Ethics has received about 30 times as many complaints about the Trump administration compared to the same period for the Obama administration?   How should we rate Trump so far?  Nicholas Kristof rates the first 100 days.

Republicans Celebrate the Millions Who Will Lose Their Health Insurance  Shorty after the house barely passed (by 4 votes) a bill to completely change American health care, Republicans gathered at the White House to whoop it up and celebrate.  After so many failures in the first 100 days, it was a desperate and mandatory drill to give Trump something (anything) to brag about. Why are Republicans fighting so hard to take away health care?  The back story widely circulated is that they want to cut billions so that they will be in a position to enact their # 1 priority:  a huge tax cut for the rich.  So who are the winners and losers in the Republican health care act?  It turns out the bill is crafted to benefit those earning over $250,000, people without pre-existing conditions (especially rich people), people who don’t want medical insurance, large employers, and medical industry companies.  The losers?  Older people, poor people, people with pre-existing conditions, hospitals and state governments, and women.  Now it goes to the Senate where majority leader McConnell carefully picked only staunchly conservative white male Republicans to serve on the 13 man committee that will work out a deal with the house Republicans. No women or blacks allowed.  Very telling. Read about it.

Trump’s Flip Flops  Trump lavishly praises the FBI director, then fires him.  Trump ridicules Chris Christie, George Romney, Ted Cruz, then invites them to the White House. Etc.  He appears to many as a man of no convictions.

Trump’s List of Firsts  Don’t believe that Trump has no firsts or that he is not the greatest.  After all, he has the greatest disapproval rating of any president in history.  The LATimes recently examined his accomplishments in an editorial entitled Trump’s List of Firsts.     Here is the same author, this time in the NYT, opining about how the party of stupid created Donald Trump.   And here is yet another LATimes editorial entitled, Let’s Count the Ways Donald Trump has Gone Where No President Has Gone Before.

Billionaires and Millionaires are Filling the Swamp  Another Trump first: the Trump administration is the wealthiest in American history.  Check out the worth of these 36 top Republican officials.

Who is Out of Touch? A Gallup Poll reported that most Americans think that Congress is out of touch with average Americans and that Congress focuses too much on the needs of special interests. Really?  Is the government out of touch with the people or is it the other way around?  Why did voters make it worse by electing Trump and his entourage?  Exactly who identifies with the Rich at Play in Washington? This brings up the old question, how do you get people to vote against their own economic interests?  Trump is an expert at this.

The Link Between Sleep, Sunlight, and Mood  Read The Sleeping Cure.

Trump’s War on Science  Back to the Dark Ages.  It is well-known that Trump is anti-environment and a climate change denier.  But more broadly and more dangerously he is clearly anti-science.  He is cutting funds for research left and right,  removing scientists from review boards (and replacing them with his pet industry friends), and reducing funding for nearly all government agencies that support scientific research.  He had slashed funding for the National Institutes of Mental Health, EPA, USDA, NOAA, DOE, NIST, USGS, and NASA earth science. What funding goes up (way up)?  Military spending.

The War on Journalism Ever wonder why a free press was singled out to be protected in the First Amendment of the Constitution?  One of the first things a dictator or tyrant does when assuming power is try to stifle, intimidate, or censor the press.  We are used to that in Russia and China but now it is happening in Turkey, Egypt, and the Philippines. And now Trump is doing his best right here to marginalize the media.  He labels anything critical of him as fake news and calls journalists “among the most dishonest human beings on earth.”  He echoes Joseph Stalin by calling journalists “enemies of the people.”  Trump rewards reporters who rave about him and blocks from briefings major news organizations he doesn’t like.  He blocked the press corps from accompanying Secretary of State Tillerson on his Asia trip. In a completely unprecedented shocker on May 10, Trump gave a VIP White House welcome to top Russian officials including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.  All American news media were forbidden but the official Russian news agency TASS was invited to cover the event.  The meeting took place in the Oval Office and the Russians immediately publicized it and made a huge propaganda coup.  U.S. security officials are worried that with all the Russians in the Oval Office whether someone had planted a listening device.

Trump’s idea of sound journalism?  Tabloids, gossip columnists, Howard Stern, and his cheerleading crew at FOX News who loves everything Trump.  When FOX’s Bill O’Reilly was fired for sexual harassment, Trump celebrated him and said that O’Reilly “is a good man” and “I don’t think he did anything wrong.”  In the mean time, Summer Zervos, a contestant on The Apprentice (remember the good old days when Trump liked to barge into the women’s dressing rooms?) sued Trump for sexual harassment.  Trump says that reports about what happened are “100% fabricated.”  (Remember the video clip of him bragging about being able to sexually assault women at will?)  His lawyers now take the position that as President he is immune from such lawsuits while he is in office.  Recently the LAT ran a series of editorials called The Problem with Trump.  This one is called The War on Journalism.

More on the Media  Are we entering an era where truth has no meaning, a world of “alternative truths” as Kelly Ann Conway put it?  Older Americans tend to be news junkies, regular consumers of newspapers or reputable TV news programs where outright lies are quickly detected.  But newspaper readership continue to decline, down to 23% according to Pew Research.  They say that young people today do not read newspapers, watch TV news, or visit news web sites.  They may glance at breaking news headlines or stories with good visuals, but mostly they check out social networks.  The result, according to Pew Research, is a narrow awareness of the world which is incidental and passive.  This presents a perfect environment not only for disinformation and fake news, but also for being oblivious to what is going on in the world.

A Day in the News Compare what one might learn on the social media with reading one newspaper.  Take for example one particular day in the news: Tuesday April 20 (the New York Times version).  Of course there are the usual widely covered stories such as the headline about FOX News and O’Reilly, background on France’s Emmanuel Macron, Trump’s foreign policy adviser Carter Page lying about Russia connections, protests in Turkey and Venezuela, general elections in the UK, the US Navy armada is going the wrong way, Ann Coulter at Berkeley, Arkansas trying to hurry up and execute more prisoners, etc.

But read on:  A new study finds that 8 million tons of plastic gets into the oceans each year and much of it ends up in the arctic….Noam Scheiber interviews coal miners who voted for Trump and are beginning to realize that they have been had….Nebraska passes a state law to close liquor stores near Indian reservations (but not elsewhere)….Big story about how Democrats in rural Montana are getting organized and energized….Disclosure of what billionaires donated to the $107 million Trump inaugural fund (see below) and what they got in return.  Much of the money is now unaccounted for and remains in an illegal Trump slush fund….Dennis Overbye describes a newly discovered exoplanet about the size of Earth orbiting nearby star LHS 1140 in its Goldilocks zone. It is likely to contain life.  And Jonah Bromwich tells about how a 2,000 ft long asteroid that narrowly missed Earth at 8:30 AM EST on April 19. Elsewhere in science, Carl Zimmer reports new research on oldfield mice peromyscus polionotus.  They are not only cute but they are one of the few mammals which are monogamous.  They actually found a gene for monogamy.  No doubt drug companies are salivating over patent rights….Trump Towers is violating zoning ordinances resulting in $14,000 worth of fines.  Turns out that Trump has illegally removed benches in public spaces and replaced them with Kiosks hawking Trump T shirts and other Trump crap. OMG, is he profiting from being President??? Jason Chaffetz of Utah, Republican chairman of the powerful House oversight committee, decided to quit Congress….The Shetland Islands got pawned off to Scotland in 1469 in exchange for a nice wedding dowry for the daughter of Christian I of Denmark…. Javier Duarte, fugitive former governor of the Mexican state of Veracruz, is arrested in a Florentine restaurant and extradited from Italy.  Will he get off like other criminal politicians?  On the Op-Ed pages, Brent Staples asks, “Where did all the black teachers go?”  Tim Wu tells how to stop drug companies from gouging.  Kristof warns about how Trump might be blundering into another Korean War, and Gail Collins wails on about how Trump lost his huge aircraft carrier armada:  “What we want to do is take away your crayons and say Good Boy. Now why don’t you go off and nominate some ambassadors for a change? And go find your boats.”  Finally, Ann Beeson has a piece called “Texans Gone Wild.”  It is about what happens when Republicans get all three branches of government.  A Texan drawled that the only thing standing between Texas and the Middle Ages is Joe Straus of San Antonio.

About That Inauguration….  Remember when Trump boasted that he won the popular election by a huge margin (in fact he lost by a huge margin of almost 3 million voters).  Or that attendance at his inauguration was the greatest in history?  That was until actual photos revealed that the crowds were far bigger at Obama’s inauguration.  But he is right about one record:  the Republicans collected a record setting amount of “dark money” for the inauguration, $107 million, which is double what Obama raised.  But with a far smaller inauguration and presumably far fewer expenses, what happened to the majority of that money?  Is it now in an illegal Republican slush fund being used for who knows what kinds of dirty tricks.  What billionaires rushed to throw money at Trump and what favors do they seek?  Huge sums of money came from NFL teams:  Dallas, LA Rams, Washington “Redskins” (a continuing disgrace), Houston, NY Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Tampa Bay.  Not to be outdone, American League Baseball and the Chicago Cubs kicked in huge sums. Sheldon Adelson, gambling casino magnate, gave a record $5 million. Phil Ruffin, casino industry pal of Trump kicked in $1 million and Wynn Resorts donated almost as much. Donor lists were a who’s who in the oil, gas, coal, and energy industries.  Then there were chemical industries, those involved in drilling, mining, and fossil fuels and of course Kelcy Warren, head of the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline. Also flush with slush money was the Venezuelan oil and gas industry, Lockheed Martin, and the New York catering company that Trump uses. So it appears that the main priority for Trump on Day One was to start filling the swamp with Pay to Play.  Lots of anonymous contributors gladly poured in money because inaugural committees can accept secret contributions.  Read.

BTW, the same reporter who wrote about the inauguration also covered the enormous costs to taxpayers for providing security for the Trump family’s extravagant life style including all their visits to their own resorts and country clubs. (This should please all the unemployed coal miners who identify with the Trumps.)  Over $60 million alone goes to protect Trump Towers NYC and Trump’s private pay-to- play club Mara-a-Lago in Palm Beach.  In his first few months in office, Trump spent almost a third of his time at his golf resorts, country clubs, or other private properties, all at taxpayer expense.  

Disturbing Article about the Fishing Industry  “China wants fish, so Africa goes hungry.”

How to Deconstruct America Rumors are the Steve Bannon, Trump’s Chief Political Strategist, is losing favor to insiders in the Trump Royal Family. But remember that one of his (i.e., Trump’s) basic strategies is to keep opponents off balance by doing the opposite of what is expected.  Bannon has been quoted as saying that he is like a Leninist who wants to “bring everything crashing down.”  His goal is to deconstruct the administrative state which explains why Trump appointed so many cabinet secretaries whose goal is to destroy from within the agencies they supposedly represent.  When lecturing to Silicon Valley executives in March, Bannon advised quick decision making and execution rather than thoughtful deliberation.  “Your job is to move fast and break things!”  In a nutshell, that is the Trump presidency so far.  Here is how Bannon thinks.

Are Your Sperm in Trouble?  Speaking of things broken, here is a disturbing piece about endocrine disrupters. The industry lies are reminiscent of how the tobacco industry fought smoking bans.

Why Are There No Pets in the White House? Almost all presidents have had pets in the White House. Alex Beam says that the lack of loveable animals in the White House may be Trump’s biggest mistake. He suggests that ferrets would be ideal for the Trumps.  It appears that Trump doesn’t like animals but perhaps he could fake it.  “Once you’ve learned to fake sincerity, the rest is easy.  Once Donald Trump learns to pretend to love animals he can move on to pretending to love the human race.”  

Choice Words for Trump  While Donald Trump makes strange friends (most corrupt dictators in the world), he is also noteworthy for those he alienates.  Take the very conservative Republican newspaper The Wall Street Journal.  The WSJ recently harshly rebuked Mr. Trump calling him “his own worst political enemy” and going on to assert that Trump has damaged the presidency “with his seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods….The President clings to his assertions like a drunk to an empty gin bottle.”  In the past, Trump has responded to criticism from the WSJ to fire its Editorial Board.  And remember NYC mayor Edward Koch?  The Koch family has recently discovered old letters revealing the mayor’s utter contempt for Trump when Trump repeatedly tried to buy favors from the city (such as trying to get the convention center named after himself).  Mayor Koch referred to Trump as a “self-serving egomaniac” who was “greedy, greedy, greedy.”  He went on to write that “Donald Trump is one of the least likable people I have met….I wouldn’t believe Donald Trump if his tongue were notarized.”

Big Brewers Are Squeezing Out Craft Beer Read more.

The Googlification of Education  Read how Google conquered the American Classroom.

The Superrich Pour Into Washington The Trump administration has brought about a new boom in wealth around the capitol.  There are now over 2,000 residents worth more than $30 million.  The print version title is “In Washington, the Wealthiest Settle In” while the web version title is “Washington Welcomes the Wealthiest.

Republican Health Care Bill Created to Permit Tax Cuts for the Rich Republicans are obsessed with tax cuts at the expense of good health care policy.  Read: “The Health Care Disaster Is Really  About Taxes.”

Profile of Orange County  According to the OCR, Orange County has 34 cities, a population of 3.2 million (8% of California’s population), and 13% of residents are below the poverty line.  Almost half (46%) speak a foreign language at home, 42% are non-Latino white, and 16% have no high school diploma.  The population is 35% Latino, 18% Asian, and about a third of Orange County is foreign born.  The cost of living in OC is double the U.S. average and 48% of children are not developmentally ready for kindergarten.  

Trump’s Lies About Job Creation Exposed 

Trump’s First 100 Days: The Worst of Any President Ever 

The Republican Trumpcare Bill Insults Women 

Republican Hypocrisy: 34 White House Standards Republicans Embrace  Remember when Republicans personally attacked President Obama for everything he did or said?  Here is a handy reference guide for what Republicans consider acceptable presidential behavior:  Opinion | The Republican’s Guide to Presidential Behavior

Briefly Noted Part I  EPA is dismissing scientists on review boards and replacing them with representatives from industries that are heavy polluters….The FDA now has only two dozen people overseeing the $37 billion pill supplement industry. Trump wants to cut their funds even more….White Supremacists have sharply increased activity on college campuses since Trump took office….Republicans have voted to dismantle internet privacy rules. Advertisers and internet companies will now be able to track your internet activity and browsing history without your permission….Los Angeles institutes pay-to-play jail cells.  Wealthy inmates can buy their way into cushier jail cells….During the Vietnam War. American B-52 bombers carpet bombed Cambodia.  Over 500,000 tons of bombs were dropped causing immense death and destruction. The U.S. then lent money to Cambodia to feed and house the refugees but now the Trump administration wants to be paid back plus interest….Harvard Business School graduate Duff McDonald indicts his alma mater in a new book, The Golden Passport. Duff says that the Harvard B school graduates now control much of the world of American capitalism.  Harvard remains intoxicated with its own importance and continues to teach greed rather than business ethics….Turkey has closed 15 universities, 1,000 schools, 28 TV channels, 66 newspapers, 19 magazines, 36 radio stations, five news agencies, and 26 publishing houses….Big tobacco is now buying e-cigarette companies and lobbying Congress not to regulate them….In recent mid-term elections, Republicans were 20 times more likely to vote than Democrats.  Between 2012 and 2016,  Republican gerrymandering gained about six times as many seats in state legislatures compared to Democratic gerrymandering….Remember civil rights hero Rosa Parks who refused to sit in the back of a bus in Montgomery? Her home was saved from destruction by donors who bought it and shipped it to Berlin, Germany where it has been warmly welcomed.

Briefly Noted Part II  Trump relishes in playing favorites with federal funds by rewarding districts that voted for him and punishing those that did not. He does the same thing in filling jobs.  George T. Conway III, husband of Kellyanne Conway, was recently hired to head the civil division of the Justice Department.  He will now have 1,000 lawyers under him charged with defending Trump against a variety of legal challenges….Meanwhile, the women in the Trump Royal Family are making their mark. While working closely with her father in the White House, Ivanka has not given up financial control of her business interests. Recently the Chinese government awarded her lucrative trademarks for her products in China the same day that she attended a state dinner with President Xi Jinping.  Nicole Kushner, sister of Jared Kusher (their father spent years in prison for tax evasion, illegal campaign contributions, and hiring prostitutes to blackmail enemies) is in the news.  She used her White House connections to promote a Jersey City development to Chinese investors gathered at the Beijing Ritz-Carlton. She promised that investors who came up with at least $500,000 could trade that for special favorable treatment in obtaining visas.  As for First Lady Melania Trump, she lives in Trump Towers which is costing the NYC police and fire departments (i.e., taxpayers) over $150,000 per day. But that is nothing compared to the $8 million it costs taxpayers every time the Trumps visit their own resort at Mar-a-Lago  (which is almost every weekend).  Everyone should be relieved to know that Melania won her lawsuit against the London Daily Mail. The Daily Mail had published an article about how Melania worked for an escort service when she was a model in the 1990s.  The report was based on allegations of Paolo Zampolli who ran the modeling agency….What is going on with Wells Fargo after it set up millions of fraudulent bank accounts, then fired lots of employees, pleaded guilty, and paid out $185 million in settlements?  Guess what? They rewarded former CEO John G. Stumpf with $83 million in stock options. Then they gave a huge bonus to the new CEO Timothy Sloan.  PS:  Did you notice that the Trump administration is packed with former Goldman Sachs brass?  They helped write Trumps tax plans which would sharply cut Goldman’s taxes and even better reduce government oversight. Result:  Goldman stock has shot up 36% since Trump was elected….To pay for loss the of revenue from corporations and the superrich, Trump has targeted the school lunch program for kids.  He has also targeted funds for special education in schools. And Secretary of Education Betsy Devos (net worth $1.5 billion) wants to cut provisions in the student loan program….While Trump campaigned to increase transparency in the White House, he has done the opposite (another flip flop on campaign promises).  He ordered a cut off of public access to visitor logs.  The move prevents the public ever from knowing which lobbyists, donors, business partners, cronies, and wheeler-dealers seek favors….Now for the good news:  the journal Nature just reported the discovery of mastodon bones near San Diego.  This means that prehistoric humans lived in California as long as 130,000 years ago which is far different from the accepted wisdom that the earliest people in the Americas date back only 15,000 years.  But modern humans migrated out of Africa about 50-80,000 years ago so probably we are not all related to the early Californians.  If you suspect anyone related to a mastodon, please call 911.

Briefly Noted Part III  California locks up over 118,000 people in prisons. It costs taxpayers $79,812 per year per prisoner.  Corrections cost taxpayers $11 billion per year which is almost as much as the budget for higher education….Saudi Arabia paid lobbyists to defeat a law in Congress allowing victims of 911 to sue the Saudi government.  Some military veterans were paid to protest which they did illegally because many failed to disclose that they were being paid by a foreign government….The Senate confirmed Trump’s pick to head the Food and Drug Administration.  Dr. Scott Gottlieb has close ties with the companies he is now supposed to regulate….The head of the Dept. of Agriculture is normally a scientist with expertise in agricultural research.  Not under Trump who instead has picked Sam Clovis, former talk radio host, Trump supporter, and climate change denier….Trump has appointed Keith Noreika to head the Office of Comptroller and Currency.  As a lawyer with the New York law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Noreika has spent much of his career protecting the very banks that he is now charged with regulating.  He does not need to sign any ethics pledge.  His first moves were to indicate that he wants to undo Obama-era banking regulations….Billionaire Secretary of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was jeered when she gave a commencement address at Bethune Cookman University.  Many graduates turned their back on her.  DeVos has no experience in public education and is an activist who wants to take money away from public schools and give it to charter schools instead….Scientists have reported that bacteria in the gut may adversely affect seemingly unrelated organs in completely unexpected ways….According to the NYT, Trump “burns with frustration” over not getting more credit for his narrow fluke of an election win in spite of the fact that he lost the popular vote by a wide margin.  He hounds visitors to the White House with electoral maps of where he won.  He is “obsessed about proving that he’s legitimate.”

Choice Letters to the Editor

Gangster Presidency, LAT May 11

To the Editor:

President Trump does not understand the concept of checks and balances, which the founding fathers put in place to secure our democracy. He has always done whatever he wants and said whatever he wants. He answers to no one and surrounds himself with yes men and women. (“Absolutely nothing about James Comey’s firing passes the smell test,” editorial, May 9)

Trump conducts his presidency as if he were a gangster, rewarding those who are loyal to him regardless of what the facts are. I can just see Trump telling Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions to come up with a legal basis for firing FBI Director James Comey; ironically Sessions and his deputy came up with something that happened months ago concerning Comey’s handling of Hillary Clinton’s email, the very thing Trump complimented him for doing during the campaign.

Trump has fired Comey, acting Atty. Gen. Sally Yates and U.S. Atty. Preet Bharara, all people of integrity whom Trump cannot control and were investigating the president. It’s time for members of Congress to stand up to Trump and protect the democratic process and the American people.     Alba Farfaglia, San Clemente

 

Charter Schools, NYT May 7

To the Editor:

David Leonhardt states, “Crucially, many charters are open to all comers, which means their success doesn’t stem from skimming off the best” (“School Choice Works While Vouchers Don’t,” column, May 2). In fact, charter schools do skim in several ways: Parents with the wherewithal to apply, which must often be done well in advance and by filling out many forms, have to be organized, aware and English-speaking and have the time to devote to it. That description may not apply to very poor, single-parent or struggling families.

Second, although charters often use a lottery system, many do not accept special-needs students on the grounds that they cannot meet those needs. In addition, charter schools such as the Success Academy network in New York City expel students whose behavior does not meet school standards — standards that have been shown to be punitive, harsh and controlling.

Charters do take money from the public education system; dollars follow each student who attends a charter. Many have additional funds from private sources, such as hedge funds, that public schools do not have.

Since success is largely measured by test results, charters often spend inordinate amounts of time on test preparation and drill, to the detriment of other subjects and the well-being of young children.

The original concept for charter schools imagined that they would serve as an experiment, and if successful, be an example that public schools could incorporate. As long as charters have more funding and are in direct competition with public schools, public schools will suffer. And have.

ANNETTE MARCUS, NEW YORK  The writer is a retired science teacher.

 

Nobody Knew Health Care Could Be So Complicated, NYT Feb. 28

To the Editor:

Re “Trump Concedes Health Overhaul Is a Thorny Task” (front page, Feb. 28):

On Monday, President Trump said: “I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”

Actually, everyone except Mr. Trump knew that. Only stubborn, willful ignorance could produce this startling remark.

Of course, knowing nothing did not keep Mr. Trump from making the repeal of Obamacare a central issue of his campaign or from blithely assuring his supporters that he would magically make the health care system better and cheaper. Sad.

JANICE GEWIRTZ,   Mountain Lakes, N.J.

 

Blame Trump or Those Who Voted for Him?  NYT.  Feb. 24

To the Editor:

Re “Fight Trump, Not His Voters” (column, Feb. 23):

It’s hard to disagree with Nicholas Kristof: Stereotyping is indefensible; demonizing the opposition feeds the dysfunction; and name-calling will win no votes. But it’s also entirely possible that Mr. Kristof has it backward: President Trump is not the true enemy; his voters are.

Donald Trump is an unabashed bigot, a baldfaced liar and someone who bragged about groping women. But as nightmarish as it seems to have those qualities in the White House, sooner or later his presidency will come to an end. And when it does, we will be faced with the true American nightmare: that almost 63 million of us, knowing full well who Donald Trump was, voted for him anyway.

They will not be smarter than they were in 2016 — they will have spent the interim being lied to constantly — and they will not be less angry, because the Trump presidency will certainly have failed them As all reasonable people know, trashing trade deals won’t bring industrial jobs back; building walls won’t make us safer; and market forces won’t deliver health care or educate our children.

So while Donald Trump is certainly the enemy of both reason and compassion, I’m much more frightened of the 63 million people who either didn’t know they were voting against everything this country stands for, or didn’t care.

DAVID BERMAN,  New York

 

Ivanka Trump: White House Adviser-in-Training,  NYT  May 6

To the Editor:

Re “A First Daughter Assembling a Vast Portfolio” (front page, May 3):

So a senior White House adviser says, “I’m still at the early stages of learning how everything works,” and “I’m really, really trying to learn.”

I’m willing to believe that Ivanka Trump is smart. Maybe she has done well in her career as entrepreneur and real estate developer. Yet, she frankly admits that she doesn’t have the knowledge, experience or training to do the job. The fact that she doesn’t take a salary doesn’t make it O.K. She has extraordinary power and influence.

It is profoundly disrespectful to ask the American people to be patient while she tries to educate herself. I feel sorry for the professionals with expertise and experience who are superbly prepared to work in the White House. Their heads must be spinning.

Good intentions are not enough. Being smart is not enough. We deserve better.

HEDY KALIKOFF, HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.

 

To the Editor:

Leaving aside issues of nepotism and Ivanka Trump’s lack of qualifications, is it not telling that our president requires such intervention? If Donald Trump had the slightest notion of what to do and say and how to behave, such babysitting would not be necessary.

RICHARD WILLIAMS,   DAVIS, CALIF.

 

Who is the Showboater and Grandstander?,  LTE not published in the NYT

To the Editor:

The news just keeps getting worse (President Shifts Rationale For Firing FBI Director, Calling Him a ‘Showboat,’ May 12).  The man in charge is a “grandstander” and “showboater.”  He left everyone in “virtual turmoil” and we have “lost confidence in him.”  Firing is the only solution.

Let the impeachment proceedings begin.

Roger Johnson, San Clemente CA

 

Will San Onofre Cause a Mushroom Cloud?  San Clemente Times May 11

To the Editor:

Two recent writers (Jay Gaskins, April 20-26 and Bill Kindel, April 27-May 3) have made mention of fleeing from “mushroom clouds” if there is an accident at San Onofre.  If this is a reference to a Hiroshima-like atomic explosion, Mr. Kindel is correct that there will never be such an explosion.  The nuclear waste they plan to store a few miles from us is not the highly-enriched weapons grade material used in nuclear weapons.

On the other hand, this nuclear waste can become fissile if attacked by missiles.  It is a very attractive target considering that the Hiroshima bomb was a little ball of U-235 about the size of a grapefruit.   Compare that with the nearly two thousand tons of uranium and plutonium that Edison wants to store in Zip Code 92672.

What is worrisome about both letters is a complete misunderstanding of the danger of nuclear waste.  The threat is massive amounts of radiation, not atomic explosions.  Each of the 150 canisters to be stored at San Onofre has more radioactive potential than all of the contamination from Chernobyl which covered much of Europe in 1986.  You can’t hide from radiation and you can’t run away from it.  Gamma radiation (similar to X-rays) will penetrate lead and several feet of reinforced concrete.  It will go right through your house, your car, and it will rearrange your cell DNA while it passes through your entire body.  Remember that women and children are much more vulnerable to radiation. The human fetus is about 50 times more vulnerable than the average adult male that the nuclear industry likes to use as its standard when measuring radiation danger.

Some people fear only things they can see or hear (like an explosion) or things that have an immediate effect (like a bullet).  There is no defense against radiation, and radiation-induced cancer often takes years or even decades to express itself.  Radiation exposure is cumulative over a lifetime, and many radionuclides do not decay to safe levels for hundreds of thousands of years (multiply the half-life of each element times ten).

If you own a hazmat suit, it might protect you from alpha radiation (unless you breathe or swallow potentially lethal alpha particles) but not from neutrons or gamma radiation. Unfortunately, hazmat suits become contaminated and have to be discarded after one use (and they don’t come in children’s sizes).  If your house or property becomes contaminated, everything you own becomes worthless (no insurance policy covers radioactive contamination).

So stop talking about mushroom clouds.  Think about what they have at Fukushima:  huge areas of land which have become contaminated and uninhabitable zones of exclusion.  All it takes is one cracked canister, one big earthquake, or maybe just a truck bomb, drone attack, or airplane crash.  Fortunately, there are quite a few people in San Clemente very upset about our area becoming a nuclear waste dump for the indefinite future.  The sad part is that some are not and many are clueless.

Roger Johnson,  San Clemente

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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