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Broken Clocks, Corruption, and Over 200,000 Dead Children

A broken clock is correct twice through every cycle. That is how I feel about our current president and his team.

Whether by intention, inadvertence, or a combination of the two, this administration has created an atmosphere of chaos, confusion, and outright corruption. By chance, the current president's supporters can point to a couple of plausible successes: (1) the release of three Americans by North Korea and Kim Jung Un's recent moves that appear to seek reconciliation, and (2) an economy that continues to add jobs with every monthly labor report.

So the broken clock has stopped twice on a couple of favorable situations. Some will argue that the current president's aggression and tempestuousness are bringing North Korea to the table. But a bit of perspective is in order. Kim Jung Un has conceded nothing yet. He has visited China on two reported occasions, so he's not necessarily giving anything away. The three North Korean leaders have played similar games before. So what will be the result of the ultimate deal? Boosted by flattery, will our current president agree to remove troops from Asia, a result that would certainly delight the folks in Beijing, while undercutting South Korea and Japan? If he does so, will Kim concede and give up his weapons (knowing China may have his back and that the nukes are his main leverage going forward)? Having seen the US renege on the Iran deal, would Kim even risk doing this? So will Trump give away the Korean peninsula in exchange for some shiny photo ops? Stay tuned.

Some more perspective: Yes, three Americans were released from North Korean prisons. That is undoubtedly good news. But five dual citizens are still held hostage in Iran. What is the administration doing for them, especially now that--after walking out on the Iran deal and promising to reimpose sanctions--it has less leverage than before?

A second example of the administration's broken clock fortune is the economy. While it has risen under his watch, it has been doing so since 2009. I'm not saying a president and his supporters shouldn't crow about a positive economic situation; that 's what you're supposed to do. But the story of the current president's inadvertent economic gains reinforces my larger broken clock theory.

By my math, a broken clock with a minute hand is wrong 99.9% of the time. That sounds about right for an administration whose prime goals are chaos, obfuscation, and a rabid fetish to reverse anything that the previous president accomplished. And no clock is more broken, no individual more compromised than the current EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Just google "Scott Pruitt", and see what pops up. I found the following headlines:

Pruitt is maybe the basest of all cabinet members and proof that Republicans in Congress will put up with ethical scandals as long as the person (1) is one of their own and/or (2) is compromised by not one, not two, but multiple ethical concerns.

But to see the full cost of Pruitt's (and, by definition, this administration's) policy, this headline is probably the most concerning: Pediatricians are concerned about climate change, and here's why.

As the article points out, future generations are likely to bear the brunt of climate change, and in particular this will affect children. The numbers are stark:

When compared with a future without climate change, an estimated 48,000 additional deaths due to diarrheal illness are projected among children younger than 15 by 2030, according to the World Health Organization.

As for nutritional deficiencies, about 95,000 additional deaths due to childhood undernutrition are projected for 2030, according to the WHO.

The article also notes that extreme weather events such as last year's hurricanes, heat waves, and the Zika virus will be exacerbated by a warming climate, and that this will have a harsher effect on children's health. Deaths due to diarrhea, malaria and nutritional deficiencies among children younger than five are expected to rise.

So while Scott Pruitt may have enjoyed his $43,000 sound proof booth, the $50 a night condo that he rented from a lobbyist (that he couldn't even pay for), and his $120,000 trip to Italy, the polluter-friendly policies that he and this administration are peddling are likely to exacerbate the bad health news for tomorrow's children. The deaths of these 200,000 or so youngsters are therefore laid at the feet of Mr. Pruitt; when he is finally let go, the current president and his enablers will still share responsibility.

The clock will stay broken for the foreseeable future, but we can work together to try and get a new clock. As I've said before, here is the roadmap for this November: 1. Vote, and encourage others to do so. 2. Organize, by joining a group and leveraging this resource. 3. Flip--volunteer to turn a red district blue (I plan to work on NY's congressional district 19).

It's time.

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