Friday Reads: Animal Farm

It’s difficult not to think about what the current state of affairs means in terms of the celebration of Independence Day as we head into Fourth of July Festivities.  Our country was born of the Age of Reason.  Thomas Jefferson–who wrote the document proclaiming US Independence–was an amateur scientist and philosopher.  He might be considered the ideal Renaissance man if he had also found a way to support his causes and lifestyle with employees instead of slaves.

There’s always been this dark side to the American Dream and there have been many people throughout history who have fought those inclinations. It’s been a slow climb from the idea that we all are created equal to getting to a society that actually lives that value. The climb continues.

Why is it so difficult to treat one another with the respect and dignity we each deserve?

The Republican leadership and Administration is based on the most vulgar, salacious, and base motivations we’ve witnessed since Andrew Jackson was committing mass genocide on human beings he considered “savages” and since a group of people considered the nation’s black Americans to be not wholly human.  They deemed all folks with African descent to be precisely 3/5ths human.  All of this was done in the name of the same religion that tortures our better angels today.

The cognitive dissonance is simply mind boggling.  Today, Ahvaz Iran has reached an almost unheard of temperature of 129.  It’s one of the hottest temperatures ever recorded on the planet. 

Another weather source, the Weather Underground, said Ahvaz hit 129.2 degrees Thursday afternoon. The heat index, which also takes humidity into account, hit an incredible 142 degrees.

Fortunately, the weather forecast for Ahvaz on Friday is for “cooler” weather, with a high of only 119 degrees, according to AccuWeather.

The official all-time world record temperature remains the 134-degree temperature measured at Death Valley, Calif, on July 10, 1913. However, some experts say that temperature isn’t reliable. Weather Underground weather historian Christopher Burt said in 2016 that such an extreme temperature was “not possible from a meteorological perspective.”

Scorching heat is one of the most expected outcomes of man-made climate change, according to a 2016 report from the National Academy of Sciences and a 2015 study in Nature Climate Change.

The prestigious magazine  Science published a study estimating the economic cost of climate change to the US economy.  It’s not pretty.  You can read the fully study at the link.  This is its Abstract.

Estimates of climate change damage are central to the design of climate policies. Here, we develop a flexible architecture for computing damages that integrates climate science, econometric analyses, and process models. We use this approach to construct spatially explicit, probabilistic, and empirically derived estimates of economic damage in the United States from climate change. The combined value of market and nonmarket damage across analyzed sectors—agriculture, crime, coastal storms, energy, human mortality, and labor—increases quadratically in global mean temperature, costing roughly 1.2% of gross domestic product per +1°C on average. Importantly, risk is distributed unequally across locations, generating a large transfer of value northward and westward that increases economic inequality. By the late 21st century, the poorest third of counties are projected to experience damages between 2 and 20% of county income (90% chance) under business-as-usual emissions (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5).

Meanwhile, the man responsible for the EPA–professional whackadoodle Scott Pruitt–launches  program to ‘critique’ climate science.

“We are in fact very excited about this initiative,” the official added. “Climate science, like other fields of science, is constantly changing. A new, fresh and transparent evaluation is something everyone should support doing.”

The disclosure follows the administration’s suggestions over several days that it supports reviewing climate science outside the normal peer-review process used by scientists. This is the first time agency officials acknowledged that Pruitt has begun that process. The source said Energy Secretary Rick Perry also favors the review.

Executives in the coal industry interpret the move as a step toward challenging the endangerment finding, the agency’s legal foundation for regulating greenhouse gases from cars, power plants and other sources. Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy Corp., said Pruitt assured him yesterday that he plans to begin reviewing the endangerment finding within months.

“We talked about that, and they’re going to start addressing it later this year,” Murray said in an interview. “They’re going to start getting a lot of scientific people in to give both sides of the issue.”

But another person attending the meeting said Pruitt resisted committing to a full-scale challenge of the 2009 finding. The administration source also said Pruitt “did not promise to try to rescind the endangerment finding.”

Climate scientists express concern that the “red team, blue team” concept could politicize scientific research and disproportionately elevate the views of a relatively small number of experts who disagree with mainstream scientists (Climatewire, June 29).

Pruitt told about 30 people attending a board meeting of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity yesterday morning that he’s establishing a “specific process” to review climate science, the administration official said. Murray and two other people in the room interpreted Pruitt as saying he would challenge the endangerment finding.

Challenging the endangerment finding would be enormously difficult, according to many lawyers. The finding is built on an array of scientific material establishing that human health and welfare is endangered by a handful of greenhouse gases emitted by industry, power plants and cars. It stems from a Supreme Court ruling in 2007.

If Pruitt somehow succeeded in rolling back the finding — an outcome that many Republicans say is far-fetched — the federal government would no longer be required to restrict greenhouse gas emissions.

Other evidence that there is no sign of intelligent life in the majority of Republicans are  these doozies:

Trump Administration Appoints Anti-Transgender Activist To Gender Equality Post

“To put it simply, a boy claiming gender confusion must now be allowed in the same shower, bathroom, or locker room with my daughter,” wrote the new senior adviser for women’s empowerment at USAID.

Oh, and this one.

White House council for women and girls goes dark under Trump

The administration is evaluating whether to keep the office, created under President Barack Obama to focus on gender equality

I agree with Ezra Klein on this: “It turns out the liberal caricature of conservatism is correct. It’s depressing. But it’s true.”  These people are motivated by greed and feeding a group of religious zealots who think Eve is the root of all evil and any one not pristine white carries the stain of sin.

Marc Thiessen, the George W. Bush speechwriter who now writes a column for the Washington Post op-ed page, is aghast at the Senate GOP’s health care bill. “Paying for a massive tax cut for the wealthy with cuts to health care for the most vulnerable Americans is morally reprehensible,” he says.

“If Republicans want to confirm every liberal caricature of conservatism in a single piece of legislation, they could do no better than vote on the GOP bill in its current form.”

But at what point do we admit that this isn’t the liberal caricature of conservatism? It’s just … conservatism.

Though Republicans had long promised the country a repeal-and-replace plan that offered better coverage at lower cost, the House GOP’s health care bill cut hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes for the rich and paid for it by gutting health care spending on the poor. It was widely criticized and polled terribly.

Senate Republicans responded by releasing a revised health care bill that also cut hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes for the rich and paid for it by gutting health care spending on the poor. It has also been widely criticized, and it also is polling terribly.

Donald Trump, who ran on a platform of covering everyone with better health insurance than they get now, has endorsed both bills.

Republicans, in other words, have repeatedly broken their promises and defied public opinion in order to release health care bills that cut spending on the poorest Americans to fund massive tax cuts for the richest Americans. (The Tax Policy Center estimates that 44.6 percent of the Senate bill’s tax cuts go to households making more than $875,000.)

Fundamentalism of all sorts has always been the basis of the evil done by this country.  Republicans are feeding it.

How do you make climate change personal to someone who believes only God can alter the weather? How do you make racial equality personal to someone who believes whites are naturally superior to non-whites? How do you make gender equality personal to someone who believes women are supposed to be subservient to men by God’s command? How do you get someone to view minorities as not threatening personal to people who don’t live around and never interact with them? How do you make personal the fact massive tax cuts and cutting back government hurts their economic situation when they’ve voted for these for decades? I don’t think you can without some catastrophic events. And maybe not even then. The Civil War was pretty damn catastrophic yet a large swath of the South believed and still believes they were right, had the moral high ground. They were/are also mostly Christian fundamentalists who believe they are superior because of the color of their skin and the religion they profess to follow. There is a pattern here for anyone willing to connect the dots.

“Rural, white America needs to be better understood,” is not one of the dots. “Rural, white America needs to be better understood,” is a dodge, meant to avoid the real problems because talking about the real problems is viewed as “too upsetting,” “too mean,” “too arrogant,” “too elite,” “too snobbish.” Pointing out Aunt Bee’s views of Mexicans, blacks, gays…is bigoted isn’t the thing one does in polite society. Too bad more people don’t think the same about the views Aunt Bee has. It’s the classic, “You’re a racist for calling me a racist,” ploy. Or, as it is more commonly known, “I know you are but what am I?”

I do think rational arguments are needed, even if they go mostly ignored and ridiculed. I believe in treating people with the respect they’ve earned but the key point here is “earned.” I’ll gladly sit down with Aunt Bee and have a nice, polite conversation about her beliefs about “the gays,” “the blacks,” “illegals,”…and do so without calling her a bigot or a racist. But, this doesn’t mean she isn’t a bigot and a racist and if I’m asked to describe her beliefs these are the only words that honestly fit. No one with cancer wants to be told they have cancer, but just because no one uses the word, “cancer,” it doesn’t mean they don’t have it. Just because the media, pundits on all sides, some Democratic leaders don’t want to call the actions of many rural, Christian, white Americans, “racist/bigoted” doesn’t make them not so.

Paul Krugman is more succinct.  He calls it Republican ‘cruelty’. It is exactly that.

The puzzle — and it is a puzzle, even for those who have long since concluded that something is terribly wrong with the modern G.O.P. — is why the party is pushing this harsh, morally indefensible agenda.

Think about it. Losing health coverage is a nightmare, especially if you’re older, have health problems and/or lack the financial resources to cope if illness strikes. And since Americans with those characteristics are precisely the people this legislation effectively targets, tens of millions would soon find themselves living this nightmare.

Meanwhile, taxes that fall mainly on a tiny, wealthy minority would be reduced or eliminated. These cuts would be big in dollar terms, but because the rich are already so rich, the savings would make very little difference to their lives.

More than 40 percent of the Senate bill’s tax cuts would go to people with annual incomes over $1 million — but even these lucky few would see their after-tax income rise only by a barely noticeable 2 percent.

So it’s vast suffering — including, according to the best estimates, around 200,000 preventable deaths — imposed on many of our fellow citizens in order to give a handful of wealthy people what amounts to some extra pocket change. And the public hates the idea: Polling shows overwhelming popular opposition, even though many voters don’t realize just how cruel the bill really is. For example, only a minority of voters are aware of the plan to make savage cuts to Medicaid.

In fact, my guess is that the bill has low approval even among those who would get a significant tax cut. Warren Buffett has denounced the Senate bill as the “Relief for the Rich Act,” and he’s surely not the only billionaire who feels that way.

Which brings me back to my question: Why would anyone want to do this?

Because they can and because they love power and money.  Their mega-rich donors will shower them in both.

I think we can forever ask ourselves the big question of why do these uneducated white people continually fall for it?  The answer is that their life basically sucks and they’re doing what ever they can to feel better about it. Religion and Republicans give them a feeling of superiority based on the only thing they have: the identity birth gave them.  Every one is paying an awful price for that.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today? Tuesday is Independence Day if we can keep it.

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44 Comments on “Friday Reads: Animal Farm”

  1. dakinikat says:

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    Keep in mind that many of those moronic voters tune into Right wing radio and watch Christian Broadcasting channels all day long. Throw in 24 hours of Fox News and you can easily identify those who vote consistently against their better interests.

    They have no desire to listen to opposing views. They believe that “god” is helping them choose their candidate via the media. They are comfortable sending their few dollars to conniving “preachers” who promise them heaven. They “love” their fellow man as long as he/she is the right color. Education is for the “elites”. They prefer superstition to reality.

    These are the yahoos who gave us Trump. Morons.

    • Fannie says:

      They are mindless Pat, mindless.

    • Enheduanna says:

      They’re being used by flim-flam evangelical hucksters and controlled by rich conservative backers of this huge propaganda network. Fox News and hate radio together could turn out to be the worst things that have ever happened to this country, and I include all the wars that have come before.

  3. dakinikat says:

    Why are these tweets different from any other?
    By Jennifer Rubin

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/06/29/why-are-these-tweets-different-from-any-other/?utm_term=.889d81be9d7c

    President Trump’s latest outbursts are not part of a brilliant strategy. He gains nothing, at a time when his grasp of his job is openly questioned. He gains no allies in the health-care debate. He reminds the country that Republicans who chose to ignore or rationalize this kind of behavior will go down as moral quislings. He reminds us that the conservative evangelicals who embraced him are not exemplars of moral or religious behavior. They are apologists and tribalists who rejoice in his exacting revenge on “elites.” No upside comes from this behavior; it’s the reaction of a man-child who cannot contain his belligerence.

    As for Sanders, she joins the legions of those who will do anything, defend anything, justify anything for their moments(s) in the White House. Patriotism, decency, honor? These have no place in their calculus. We need shed no tears when they are humiliated, undercut and eventually fired by their boss. They’ve made their pact with the devil and deserve no sympathy.

    If these tweets fortify his base, that speaks volumes about those who would be buoyed by such conduct. But that’s an exercise in diminishing returns. He is shedding support from those who see him for what he is and retain reason and decency in their political judgments.

    Does this indicate his mental unfitness to serve? Yes, but there have been dozens of signals he is, as Sasse put it, “not normal.”

    What is to be done? We’d applaud if Republican leaders rebuked him in some formal way (a resolution perhaps). But don’t hold your breath. Opponents of the president and defenders of democratic norms and simple decency should fortify themselves and redouble their efforts. They’ve been reminded who is in the Oval Office and the damage he does to our society on a daily basis.

    I still can’t believe I quote her … sigh.

  4. Fannie says:

    All I seem to be doing is shaking my head this morning………….I listened to Joe and Mika, and yes it pisses me off. While Joe goes on about Trump degrading a list of women, not one mention of Hillary Clinton being degraded. He went on to say that all those struggling people voted for Trump to help them, then talks about the nice wages they make. He also said that Bill Clinton wasn’t a good role model for kids, comparing him to Trump. I got news for Joe, Bill Clinton is no comparison to Trump……..yet it gave him great satisfaction to say so, maybe he’s hoping the republicans will get the SOB out of office. I wondered about the female intern (Lori Klasutis) who was found dead in his office some years ago. Regardless, Hillary Clinton talked about the impact that Trump was having on children, our society, and global relations. I guess they thought he was harmless, and now that it’s in their back yard, it’s time to do something. Come on, the republicans are mindless, just mindless when it comes to the treatment of women!

    • Pat Johnson says:

      The nation is on the verge of a collective nervous breakdown if this insanity continues.

      President Stupid is about to venture overseas next week and will meet in private with Putin.
      Meanwhile the investigation into collusion and corruption drags on with daily tidbits tying his campaign to Russia while the GOP leadership remains silent.

      All this idiot has done is undo all the good that Obama accomplished in 8 years. Healthcare, clean air and water, financial restrictions, education reforms, etc. Shameful!

      Elected leaders took an oath to defend and protect us. They are failing. They have given the keys to the family car to an ignorant clown who is driving it off the cliff.

      How much further can the elastic stretch before it gives out? Time is running out.

    • NW Luna says:

      Joe and Mika were OK with Trump until he came for them.

  5. dakinikat says:

    Former AG Eric Holder sends mysterious 3 a.m. tweet telling DOJ staff to ‘be prepared, be strong’

    http://www.rawstory.com/2017/06/former-ag-eric-holder-sends-mysterious-3-a-m-tweet-telling-doj-staff-to-be-prepared-be-strong/

  6. Pat Johnson says:

    I have no sympathy for Joe and Mika. For months they fluffed up the Orange Buffoon, giggling and cheering him on each morning while taking potshots at Hillary every chance they had.

    I had to quit watching as it spiked my blood pressure listening to them fawning over this dolt who never once could give an accurate answer to policy questions but dodged them all while the hosts played slap and tickle with him.

    Something happened that turned the tide and they became more critical after the election. It drove Trump into a frenzy and he turned his wrath on them. But I still remember, Mika mostly, condemning Hillary and forever bringing up those e-mails as she continued to “normalize” the idiot Trump.

    Karma’s a bitch!

    • Enheduanna says:

      Agree – I hope Joe and Mika are happy now. How many millions in free air time did MSNBC give to him?

      My opinion of Mika doesn’t diminish the outrage I felt over what tRump tweeted about her, though. I do wish she had refrained from responding – her tweet with the Cheerios tiny hands jab brought her down to his level and dignified his tweet.

      • joanelle says:

        I agree. During the election we saw too much of Democrats (even Hill) replying to his targeted mean and hurtful tweets.
        Had no one responded, and stuck to their campaign plans his anger and frustration would eventually turned on itself.
        But we humans find it difficult to ignore such attacks, which only fuel his glee!

    • Riverbird says:

      I agree completely.

    • Fannie says:

      She did, she kept saying if only Hillary Clinton would show who she really is, everybody would like her……If only she would have talked about those poor white folk(s), if only she had a plan………..OMG, Mika drove us nuts, and not to mention Joe.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I agree. I don’t care about them; I still think the Trump tweets were disgusting.

  7. NW Luna says:

    dak, a righteous post! We should not change what we stand for in attempt to appeal to racist and misogynist voters, or voters who congratulate themselves for not understanding science or not listening to educated experts. They’re insecure people motivated by hate and a desire to tear others down so they can stand on top. If it was not for the Electoral College and concerted voter suppression efforts, they would be a much smaller minority.

    All the voters who think climate scientists don’t know what they’re talking about should get their car brakes tuned up by their neighbor’s toddler.

  8. dakinikat says:

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      And then there’s Missouri:

      • Enheduanna says:

        The crazy thing is – it’s these states that have repressive laws and make it hard for women and girls to access reproductive health care and education that have the highest out-of-wedlock pregnancies and abortions.

        This law doesn’t sound like it would pass SCOTUS challenge.

    • Fannie says:

      The republicans have been doing this to our election systems since the 90’s. They have gotten away with all kind of election fraud in communities, and states. The gerrymandering is totally out of whack, and Trump thinks that we should give me our personal data! If I recall it was his white supremacist, Steve Bannon that became a data collector, and made millions and millions off it, likely selling it to Putin.

      Les we forget, just two weeks ago the RNC exposed 200 million voters, just left the door wide open, and nobody got a slap on their hand, not one republican is trying to get to the bottom of this.

      Trump is filling the glass full of bullshit, and serving it up like we are all going to partake. NOT.

  9. bostonboomer says:

    The shooter at a hospital in the Bronx was a doctor.

    The BRONX — A former doctor wearing a white lab coat who opened fire inside a Bronx hospital Friday killed at least one person before apparently killing himself, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press.

    A PIX11 News source identified the suspected shooter as Henry Bello. A doctor by that name appears on the hospital’s list of employed family medicine physicians as of Friday afternoon. But he is not listed on the state’s website of practicing doctors.

    Bello has three previous arrests on his record, according to PIX11 sources.

    Gunfire broke out at about 2:50 p.m. inside the Bronx Lebanon Hospital at 1650 Grand Concourse, according to the NYPD.

  10. NW Luna says:

    Well. Surprise, surprise!

  11. Enheduanna says:

    This made me really happy yesterday:

    https://wonkette.com/619633/gop-committee-votes-yes-on-barbara-lee-amendment-to-end-all-these-motherfucking-wars

    Thank goodness for Barbara Lee – that is what a real patriot looks like. And as slim a chance as this has – it’s a strong rebuke to tRump’s idiot tweet spasms. He’s getting aggressive about North Korea, too – so I hope Congress is paying attention.

    • quixote says:

      If the Repubs are nervous enough about the orange baboon starting some poo-flinging war that they actually pass this — it’s attached to defense appropriations, right? It may well pass?? — the main thing is it will give the military latitude to delay carrying aout insane orders.

      Right now, with the AUMF, they can’t do that without officially being insubordinate.

  12. bostonboomer says:

    If your state isn’t on this list, call your governor. PA gov will also refuse.

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    • Fannie says:

      Called Otter in Idaho………

      • joanelle says:

        Christie, as his puppet, has tRump’s hand up his behind and will do whatever is in line with his ‘fearless leader” asks. He, too is a leader, having the lowest approval rating of all U.S. governors

        • thewizardofroz says:

          The Secretary of State in NJ also happens to be Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno who is running for governor against Democrat Phil Murphy. I’m thinking contacting his campaign office to ask him to speak out about NJ not being on that list might be a way to sway Guadagno to join the list.

          Roz in NJ/NYC