Tuesday Reads: Yeah, But Her Emails . . .

Good Afternoon!!

I’m having another one of those days when having a corrupt, moronic, megalomaniacal monster as “president” is just too much to bear. Why is the universe torturing us like this? Is there any hope for the future?

One positive sign is that people of conscience in the government continue to leak information that Trump would prefer to hush up. Vanity Fair summarizes reporting from The NYT and The Guardian: Damning Federal Climate Report Leaked Before Trump Can Suppress It.

According to a government report that was leaked to The New York Times, average temperature in the U.S. have risen rapidly since 1980, and recent decades have been the hottest in the past 1,500 years. “Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” reads the congressionally mandated report, which was drafted by scientists spanning 13 federal agencies. The National Academy of Sciences has signed off on the paper, and it is now awaiting approval from the Trump administration.

According to the Times, scientists fear that the Trump administration could either alter or suppress the findings, and for good reason. The notion of the president’s team signing off on such a report seems about as plausible as the president having read the pope’s manifesto. Its assertion that “many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change” jar inconveniently with Trump’s instinctive assumption that global warming is actually a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese.

And The Guardian obtained some internal administration emails that demonstrate Trump’s efforts to censor scientific research and results

It must be irritating for the White House, then, that just as the Times broke their story, the Guardian obtained a series of e-mails that implicate his administration in a bout of hoax-perpetuation, too. Staff at the Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) have been told to get inventive with their use of language, and are being advised to replace the term climate change with the phrase “resilience to weather extremes,” according to the outlet. Bianca Moebis-Clune, director of soil health at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (N.R.C.S.), a U.S.D.A. unit that oversees farmers’ land conservation, helpfully circulated a concise encyclopedia of other, non-synonymous terms. For example, “reduce greenhouse gas” could, and should, be replaced by “build soil organic matter, increase nutrient use efficiency.” “Sequester carbon” is no longer wholly appropriate, so staff should now refer to “build soil organic matter.”

“We won’t change the modeling, just how we talk about it—there are a lot of benefits to putting carbon back in the sail [sic], climate mitigation is just one of them,” she wrote in an e-mail to staff on February 16, referencing advice from a colleague from the U.S.D.A.’s public affairs team to “tamp down on discretionary messaging right now.” Still, her note was not all negative. References to economic growth, emerging business opportunities in the rural U.S. and “improved aesthetics” should be “tolerated if not appreciated by all.” In another e-mail to senior employees on January 24, just days after Trump was inaugurated, Jimmy Bramblett, deputy chief for programs at the N.R.C.S., said, “It has become clear one of the previous administration’s priority is not consistent with that of the incoming administration. Namely, that priority is climate change. Please visit with your staff and make them aware of this shift of perspective within the executive branch.” He added that “prudence” should be used when referring to greenhouse gases, and that existing work on air quality regarding these gases could be stopped.

More from The Washington Post: White House reviewing new report that finds strong link between climate change, human activity.

The draft report, which has undergone extensive review, estimates that human impact was responsible for an increase in global temperatures of 1.1 to 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit from 1951 to 2010.

“Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate changes,” the report notes. “There are no alternative explanations, and no natural cycles are found in the observational record that can explain the observed changes in climate.”

That counters what Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and Energy Secretary Rick Perry have said.

It remains unclear how the White House — which announced in June that it would pull out of the Paris climate accord — will handle the report. Many scientists are looking at it as a test case of the administration’s attitude toward science in general.

“The current situation will provide an acid test of whether the Trump administration is open to hearing the scientific truth about climate change or is so much in the thrall of fossil fuel interests that they are fixated on hiding the reality from the public,” Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University, said Monday night.

The Climate Science Special Report is a key element of the National Climate Assessment, which, according to the 1990 Global Change Research Act, is supposed to be issued every four years. However, the assessment has come out only three times. The 2000 assessment, finalized under President Bill Clinton, came under attack once George W. Bush took office. Bush administrationofficials declined to cite it in subsequent federal reports, arguing that aspects of the data analysis were flawed.

According to the WaPo, the White House has had a copy of the report for “several weeks.”

Kurt Andersen has a new book coming out on September 5 called Fantasyland: How American Went Haywire; and The Atlantic has published an excerpt from it as its September cover story: How America Lost Its Mind. It’s a long article, and I haven’t finished it yet. Here are the first several paragraphs:

When did america become untethered from reality?

I first noticed our national lurch toward fantasy in 2004, after President George W. Bush’s political mastermind, Karl Rove, came up with the remarkable phrase reality-based community. People in “the reality-based community,” he told a reporter, “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality … That’s not the way the world really works anymore.” A year later, The Colbert Report went on the air. In the first few minutes of the first episode, Stephen Colbert, playing his right-wing-populist commentator character, performed a feature called “The Word.” His first selection: truthiness. “Now, I’m sure some of the ‘word police,’ the ‘wordinistas’ over at Webster’s, are gonna say, ‘Hey, that’s not a word!’ Well, anybody who knows me knows that I’m no fan of dictionaries or reference books. They’re elitist. Constantly telling us what is or isn’t true. Or what did or didn’t happen. Who’s Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was finished in 1914? If I wanna say it happened in 1941, that’s my right. I don’t trust books—they’re all fact, no heart … Face it, folks, we are a divided nation … divided between those who think with their head and those who know with their heart … Because that’s where the truth comes from, ladies and gentlemen—the gut.”

Whoa, yes, I thought: exactly. America had changed since I was young, when truthiness and reality-based community wouldn’t have made any sense as jokes. For all the fun, and all the many salutary effects of the 1960s—the main decade of my childhood—I saw that those years had also been the big-bang moment for truthiness. And if the ’60s amounted to a national nervous breakdown, we are probably mistaken to consider ourselves over it.

Each of us is on a spectrum somewhere between the poles of rational and irrational. We all have hunches we can’t prove and superstitions that make no sense. Some of my best friends are very religious, and others believe in dubious conspiracy theories. What’s problematic is going overboard—letting the subjective entirely override the objective; thinking and acting as if opinions and feelings are just as true as facts. The American experiment, the original embodiment of the great Enlightenment idea of intellectual freedom, whereby every individual is welcome to believe anything she wishes, has metastasized out of control. From the start, our ultra-individualism was attached to epic dreams, sometimes epic fantasies—every American one of God’s chosen people building a custom-made utopia, all of us free to reinvent ourselves by imagination and will. In America nowadays, those more exciting parts of the Enlightenment idea have swamped the sober, rational, empirical parts. Little by little for centuries, then more and more and faster and faster during the past half century, we Americans have given ourselves over to all kinds of magical thinking, anything-goes relativism, and belief in fanciful explanation—small and large fantasies that console or thrill or terrify us. And most of us haven’t realized how far-reaching our strange new normal has become.

Continue reading at The Atlantic link.

One more hopeful bit of news is that Trump’s base is shrinking. Yesterday Trump tweeted the “fake news” that he wants people to believe. The Washington Post: No, Donald Trump’s base is not ‘far bigger and stronger than ever before.’

President Trump is clearly rankled by the notion that his political support is slipping, pushing back against the idea during a barrage of tweets Monday from his Bedminster, N.J., golf club, where aides said he is having a “working vacation.” [….]

In fact, as his overall approval rate has sunk, some of the president’s core supporters have soured on his performance, polls show. A Quinnipiac University poll last week found 23 percent of registered voters “strongly approve” of Trump’s handling of his job, down from 29 percent who felt that way during his first week in office. Even white voters with no college degree — one of the demographics that backed his candidacy most enthusiastically — disapprove of how Trump is handling his job by 50 percent to 43 percent.

His support among Republicans is still around 75%, but the trend is downward. You can read the Trump tweets at the WaPo link, if you wish.

I know there’s much more happening, but I’m burned out at the moment. I’m hoping the return of Rachel Maddow tonight will give me something to hang onto.

What stories are you following today?

Advertisements

49 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Yeah, But Her Emails . . .”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Raw Story: ‘Parallels of history escalate’: Anne Frank Center cites 6 chilling reasons Trump is turning into Hitler

    http://www.rawstory.com/2017/08/parallels-of-history-escalate-anne-frank-center-cites-6-chilling-reasons-trump-is-turning-into-hitler/#.WYnxJkGVTgk.twitter

  3. dakinikat says:

  4. dakinikat says:

    ‘It was like a mini-Katrina’: Shaken New Orleanians overwhelmed by Saturday’s sudden flooding

    http://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/news/environment/article_53f362f6-7aba-11e7-92f1-574dc11582bd.html

    Janine Hayes was working her shift at the Port of Call restaurant on Esplanade Avenue, at the edge of the French Quarter, when the deluge started Saturday afternoon.

    She and her co-workers noticed the water was pooling faster than it does in a typical summer storm. Alarmed, they started keeping a closer watch. And during one of these periodic checks, a co-worker saw something worrisome — some kind of black apparatus in the water.

    A closer look revealed the unidentified item was a wheelchair. In it was a paralyzed man, struggling to keep his head above water.

    “It was crazy,” Hayes said, adding that several waiters and others ran outside immediately to help.

    “It took all their strength to get that man’s face out of the water and lift the whole apparatus up and get him up on the dry sidewalk,” she added. “And he was crying.”

    Hayes’ story was one of many harrowing tales to emerge from Saturday’s flooding, a freak event that meteorologists and city officials said dropped between 1 and 10 inches of rainfall over a few hours in the New Orleans metro area.

    That freak event also happened 2 weeks ago … and from my vantage point of my house only … thursday

    • Enheduanna says:

      How horrifying that must have been for everyone involved, including the rescuers. So glad they were able to get him up.

  5. dakinikat says:

    Thanks so much for Kurt’s latest. The only thing I’d say is that most americans have always been not reality based. It’s just they’re no longer so far removed from having a public voice that we didn’t see them or hear from them. Now that we have media and social media, the voice of crazy rules the airwaves because crazy sells to them.

    • Enheduanna says:

      I remember discussing with my Mom a few years ago how people were jumping the shark in religiosity. I think surveys showed 80% of us literally believed in angels, which I find preposterous.

    • Pilgrim says:

      Reading the article (long though it is, but excellent) you see that he says exactly what you’re saying, with quite a bit of relevant detail.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  7. teele says:

    If we can’t refer to the increase in severe weather events as climate change, perhaps we should simply refer to them as trumpweather. As in, “I saw on the internet that there was another trumpicane down south last week — a really horrible storm, the worst rain in 30 years. A YUUUUGE disaster.” Or “There was a bad,really terrible bad, trumpnado in Oklahoma a couple of days ago, flattened an entire town.” Or, “A trumpquake shook the suburbs of Los Angeles yesterday, frightening the residents, already reeling from a trumpslide caused by massive trumpstorms.” Name every hurricane next year “Donald” (Donald 1, Donald 2, Donald 3, etc.). Perhaps if his name is associated with disaster, he will want to revert back to discussing climate change.

  8. dakinikat says:

    Charlie Pierce is writing from Nebraska about the KPL.

    http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a56890/nebraska-farmers-oppose-keystone-xl/

    SILVER CREEK, NEBRASKA—In the early morning, cows graze randomly as cows will, down in the swales and up on the gentle hillsides on which they seem improbably to maintain their balance against the slopes. The swallows swoop and dive over the endless fields of corn that are interrupted only by endless fields of soybeans, which are then interrupted by more endless fields of corn, vast oceans of shining green leaves, until you finally get to the Platte River. The Keystone XL pipeline is supposed to go under the river, through the soybeans and the corn, up a hillside and down a swale, and right through this little spot at the intersection of County Road 133 and Havens, where a feral cat comes creeping out of the corn only to duck back into it when somebody notices.

  9. Jslat says:

    Glen Campbell just died. 81years old. 😢

  10. dakinikat says:

    Oy. Where’s the bomb shelter?

  11. NW Luna says:

    Hilarious! Click thru for the details. Trump is so infantile.

  12. bostonboomer says:

    Boston Globe:

    FBI raided home of former Trump campaign chair in July

    FBI agents raided the Alexandria, Va., home of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman late last month, using a search warrant to seize documents and other materials, according to people familiar with the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

    Federal agents appeared at Paul Manafort’s home without warning in the predawn hours of July 26, the day after he met voluntarily with the staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    The search warrant was wide-ranging and FBI agents working with special counsel Robert Mueller departed the home with various records.

    The raid came as Manafort has been voluntarily producing documents to congressional committees investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. The search warrant indicates investigators may have argued to a federal judge they had reason to believe Manafort could not be trusted to turn over all records in response to a grand jury subpoena.

  13. dakinikat says:

    Canadian PM Trudeau quietly sends national security adviser to North Korea as Trump vows ‘fire and fury’

    http://www.rawstory.com/2017/08/canadian-pm-trudeau-quietly-sends-national-security-adviser-to-north-korea-as-trump-vows-fire-and-fury/

    • Enheduanna says:

      I have to plead ignorance of details on what’s going on – but I wonder if Canada was part of the sanctions? Are the sanctions just unilateral from the U.S.?

    • NW Luna says:

      Per article, it’s rumored to be to negotiate return of a Toronto minister held captive in NK. Of course may involve other talks.

  14. dakinikat says:

    Trump’s Pointless Untruths About U.S. Nuclear Weapons
    The president’s claim to have made the U.S. nuclear arsenal “far stronger and more powerful than ever before” only undermines his credibility, right when it’s needed more than ever.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/08/trumps-pointless-untruths-about-us-nuclear-weapons/536319/

    Trump’s messaging often suggests an obsession with toughness and machismo, but there are limitations to aggressiveness. The problem that the U.S. faces in North Korea is not that its nuclear deterrent is insufficient; it’s that the American nuclear threat hasn’t convinced North Korea to stop building its own nuclear weapons. Pyongyang has concluded that successive U.S. administrations are unwilling to take the risk of either a conventional or nuclear war to stop the North Korean nuclear program.

    • NW Luna says:

      Right now I find Trump far more scary than Kim. N Korea seems understandable in wanting to be seen as one of the big boys with nuclear weapons. Trump is “a man you can bait with a tweet” who seems far more unstable.

  15. NW Luna says:

    The ‘Justice’ Dept is now trying to suppress voters who now understand they need to get off their butts and vote. Another excellent article by Ari Berman:

    Trump Administration on the Right to Vote: Use It or Lose It

    The Trump administration redoubled its support on Monday for efforts to remove people from voter registration rolls, siding with the state of Ohio in a case that could allow states to cancel registrations for voters who fail to cast a ballot over the course of several elections.

    The Justice Department released an amicus brief in the case, currently before the Supreme Court, over whether Ohio can continue to remove “infrequent voters” who fail to cast a ballot over a six-year period. One of those voters, Larry Harmon, is a lead plaintiff in the lawsuit brought by Demos and the ACLU of Ohio. The 60-year-old software engineer and Navy veteran voted in 2008 and then returned to the polls for a local referendum in 2015, only to find that he was no longer registered, even though he hadn’t moved or done anything else to change his status.

    The brief is not the administration’s first action that could lead to voter purges. On June 28, the same day President Donald Trump’s election integrity commission asked for sweeping voter data from all 50 states, the Justice Department sent a letter to 44 states informing them that it was reviewing their voter list maintenance procedures and asking them how they planned to “remove the names of ineligible voters.”  Vanita Gupta, the head of the department’s Civil Rights Division under President Barack Obama, called the letter “virtually unprecedented” and “a prelude to voter purging.”

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/08/trump-administration-on-the-right-to-vote-use-it-or-lose-it/

  16. NW Luna says: