Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Trump Show. What's Happening Behind the Curtain?

I know that I'm back in Murka when this is how Our Dear Leader behaves en route to the Flight 93 September 11 Memorial Service in Shanksville, PA:

In a sinister way that is reassuring:  He hasn't developed any significant behavioral changes in the last few weeks.  He's still without any empathy or social intelligence...

And what are the wizards behind the curtain doing while we watch The Trump Show?

1.  Well, Betsy DeVos is fixing the problems in how colleges handle allegations of sexual misconduct:

An analysis by the Education Department has found that its proposed new rules for handling allegations of sexual misconduct on campus would substantially decrease the number of investigations by colleges and school districts into complaints of sexual harassment, assault and rape, and save educational institutions millions of dollars over the next decade.
The department projected that colleges and universities currently conduct an average of 1.18 sexual harassment investigations each per year, and that under the new rule, the figure would fall to 0.72 investigations per year, a decline of 39 percent. There are about 6,000 colleges and universities nationwide.

Hilarious stuff, especially for those victims of sexual misconduct whose cases will no longer be investigated.  But wait, there might be more:

The impact analysis does not specifically account for how investigations could be affected by the narrower Supreme Court definition of sexual harassment that the department plans to adopt. The new definition defines it as “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it denies a person access to the school’s education program or activity.”

The draft regulations would allow a school to dismiss a Title IX complaint if it does not meet the new definition of sexual harassment, even if the conduct is proved to be true.

The bolds are mine. 

Note that what our Betsy-The-Busy-Beaver is building is a dam which would keep many campus sexual misconduct cases from getting any kind of hearing at all.  This follows logically from the new narrower definitions of the circumstances in which a college is expected to investigate sexual misconduct as well as from that new definition of sexual harassment*.

2.  The Environmental Protection (heh) Agency (EPA) is planning to allow more methane in the air:

The Environmental Protection Agency, perhaps as soon as this week, plans to make public a proposal to weaken an Obama-era requirement that companies monitor and repair methane leaks, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times. In a related move, the Interior Department is also expected in coming days to release its final version of a draft rule, proposed in February, that essentially repeals a restriction on the intentional venting and “flaring,” or burning, of methane from drilling operations.
The new rules follow two regulatory rollbacks this year that, taken together, represent the foundation of the United States’ effort to rein in global warming. In July, the E.P.A. proposed weakening a rule on carbon dioxide pollution from vehicle tailpipes. And in August, the agency proposed replacing the rule on carbon dioxide pollution from coal-fired power plants with a weaker one that would allow far more global-warming emissions to flow unchecked from the nation’s smokestacks.
“They’re taking them down, one by one,” said Janet McCabe, the E.P.A.’s top climate and clean-air regulator in the Obama administration.

The bolds, once again, are mine.

The EPA is also considering changing the method the government uses to quantify the kind of benefits from regulation which take the form of lives saved.  The change, of course, is to make such benefits smaller:

Last week the Trump administration took a crucial step toward de-emphasizing the life and health benefits in this calculus when the Environmental Protection Agency said it would rethink a major regulation that restricts mercury emissions by coal-burning power plants.
The 2011 mercury rule — based on decades of research showing that mercury damages the brain, lungs and fetal health — is among the costliest but most effective clean-air policies put forth by the Environmental Protection Agency. Utilities estimate they have spent $18 billion installing clean-air technology, and mercury pollution has fallen by nearly 70 percent.
So.  This administration deems any regulation "cumbersome" if it reduces the short-term profits of some industry**.  Never mind what the costs of removing that regulation might be in lives lost or planet destroyed.


*  Spend a little time thinking about that new definition of sexual harassment.  What does "pervasive" mean (in every math class, for a month?  everywhere the victim goes?  four times a semester?)
What does "severe" mean?  Who defines that?

And what is "objectively" offensive in sexual harassment?  People do not agree on that when street harassment is discussed, and it just might be the case that what women, on average, find offensive (or frightening), some percentage of men might not, given the different life experiences that the two sexes have.

Finally, does that definition apply to a perpetrator who practices severe, pervasive and "objectively" offensive harassment, but chooses many, many targets for it?  As far as I can tell, such a perpetrator would get off scot-free.

**  Well, there's also a theory that Trump wants to demolish the House That Obama Built, down to its foundations,  never mind the pain and suffering that might cause.  This is because Obama once made fun of Trump.  Which is treason.