“If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you….” sounds an awful lot like a public official making a confession about his own corruption. This admission to what appears to have been a crime, or at least what should have been a crime, comes from former US Congressman, current acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and current Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney. Mulvaney’s scandalous remarks were part a speech he delivered at an American Bankers Association conference where he also discussed his desire to eliminate public access to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s online database of customer complaints against banks. While defenders of Mulvaney point to his broader message of civil engagement, it is both troubling and a clear example of wrongdoing.
Earth Day is not a particularly important holiday to the American People. In fact, most probably do not even realize Earth Day 2018 occurred while interest is declining. The majority of Americans certainty care about things like pollution. They want the water they are drinking to be safe, the air they are breathing to be free of pollutants, and the food they are eating to be healthy. In American politics, however, environmental concerns tend to garner public outrage only when there is a noticeable problem. Absent a major disaster, such as the ongoing 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, or controversy, such as the Flint Water Crisis, environmental issues receive very little public attention. Environment issues are not, of course, the only issues that Americans confront in a very passive and reactive way. It is how they deal with all issues that do not have an immediate and personal impact on their lives.
Russia and Saudi Arabia, due to an agreement brokered by the major oil producing countries to cut global oil production, appear to be largely responsible for a steady decline in global crude supplies and subsequent uptick in fuel prices. Because the need for transportation makes gasoline and diesel fuel a necessity, rising prices tend to hurt the wallets of average consumers. Lacking a nationwide public transportation system, gasoline-powered vehicles offer Americans a sense of freedom and empowerment, thus a rise in gasoline prices is particularly enraging to Americans. Donald Trump’s so-called oil rant certainly plays into those sentiments, even if the oil industry receives such price increases as positive developments. Clearly, perception plays a big role in how shifts in energy prices are received and analyzed, but what actually matters is the real world consequences.
Debating Authorization for Use of Military Force: Congress Needs To Provide Real Oversight of the Military and Executive Branch
The US military is both the strongest war power in the world and one of the more influential economic players in the global economy. It, along with the US national security apparatus, fall under the command of the US President while the actions of the US military are supposed to be constrained by the US Congress. Since the Cold War and the rise of the United State as the world’s only superpower, however, Congressional oversight has waned. While the US military’s budget has steadily grown and the US has become increasingly involved in a rising number of conflicts, Congress has ceded more and more of its oversight authority to the President. Politicians do, however, periodically raise concerns over whether or not Congress should afford the President such broad powers, which is happening now with the potential passage of a new bill.
Long before the Information Technology Age established a firm grip on the world, math and science students of all ages, abused calculators in their quest to finish their homework as quickly as possible. Generations of children and young adults would punch numbers into their calculators then jot down whatever was displayed on the screen. The sight of a student using a calculator was a pet peeve for most STEM teachers. These educators used calculators and other mathematical aids themselves, but they used them as tools. They knew how to do the math without the calculators and they knew how to use the calculator to arrive at a correct answer. Today, a “hello, Google,” or a “hey Cortana,” or maybe a quick “Siri,” or “Alexa,” will deliver an immediate answer to pretty much any question, but human nature alone dictates this technology is being abused just as calculators have always been.
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