Nel's New Day

July 11, 2019

DDT’s Failures—Citizenship Question, Environment

“We are not backing down,” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) announced in the Rose Garden yesterday when he backed down from putting a citizenship question into the 2020 census. This morning, he declared that he would sign an executive order to include the question, despite the Supreme Court and three lower courts ruling against it. This afternoon, he issued an executive order requiring federal departments to provide records about resident noncitizens to the Commerce Department, an action easily done without one of his “executive orders.” Although the monthly American Community Survey, which asks the citizen question, is sent to about one percent of the population each year, but this data cannot be used for legislative and congressional redistricting.

Earlier this week, the DOJ tried to trade out its legal team to argue the case, a first for the DOJ. The judge rejected a new team, calling the request “patently deficient” because the government had provided “no reasons, let alone ’satisfactory reasons,’ for the substitution of counsel.” He required the government to show that replacing the team won’t add further delay to the suit and mandated each of the 11 lawyers now on the case to submit a signed and sworn affidavit giving “satisfactory reasons” for the request. The plaintiffs also have a pending motion to sanction the government for false testimony for the motivation behind the question. New York Attorney General Letitia James said:

“Despite the president attempting to fire his lawyers, this is not an episode of The Apprentice.”

AG Bill Barr, DDT’s fixer, gave an impressive speech declaring victory for DDT after they both backed down. Barr said that they would win if they kept fighting but that they had too little time.  DDT’s “victory” means taking the option that he rejected over a year ago. Earlier this week, Barr had said that he had a way to put the question on the census forms but wouldn’t tell anyone. Before the House leaves for its August recess, members plan to vote to hold both AG William P. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoenas tied to the citizenship question.

DDT’s kerfuffle about the citizenship question eclipsed today’s social media summit with conservative online commentators to complain about what they perceive as censorship from big tech companies. DDT tweeted that topics will be “the tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies.” Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were not invited. DDT’s goal was to distract the media and his supporters from his and his Labor Secretary Alex Acosta’s involvement in the Jeffrey Epstein child sex-trafficking scandal. At his meeting in the East Room, DDT attacked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) rather than Joe Biden, indicating that he sees Warren as a greater opponent than Biden.

A few special guests DDT invited to his “troll party”:

James O’Keefe, who doctors videos to embarrass progressives including faking negative accounts of ACORN, Planned Parenthood, and Medicaid, got caught trying to pull a sting on Washington Post’s reporting about child molester Roy Moore during his last run for U.S. Senate.

Carpe Donktum publishes doctored videos to support DDT that sometimes cause him to be blocked from Twitter.  

Ali Alexander (aka Akbar) tried to start a racist birther-like campaign by tweeting that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is not an “American Black,” a post quote-tweeted by Donald Trump, Jr. Alexander’s earlier Twitter ban this year came after he lied to followers about buying bitcoin, ammo, and guns because of a non-existent impending civil war.

Jim Hoft created the blog Gateway Pundit with such falsehoods as Hillary Clinton having a serious gum disease, E. Jean Carroll getting her DDT rape allegation for Law & Order, and Parkland shooting survivors being “crisis actors.”

Tim Pool claims to support progressive causes and policies but promotes right-wing rumors.

Benny Johnson, once a BuzzFeed writer, moved up the conspiracy chain to Daily Caller to complete DDT obsession after a series of plagiarism accusations.

Minds, an “anti-Facebook” and “Crypto social network,” rewards contributors in bitcoins, giving haven to violent neo-Nazi groups such as Atomwaffen, which has been linked to several murders in the U.S., and Feuerkrieg Division, which has made death threats against tech CEOs and politicians. Those two groups were banned, but other white supremacist accounts remain.

Bill Mitchell, a promoter of the bizarre conspiracy movement QAnon, tells his radio show listener that “Q is trying to do is motivate and encourage the base” by opposing media coverage critical of Trump.  

Michael Morrison was recently suspended from Twitter for closely copying Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s Twitter account in what he called a parody.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), under ethics charges for threatening witness Michael Cohen, praised Infowars, castigated the “deep state,” and introduced a resolution to force investigator Robert Mueller to resign.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) blocked a bill requiring political campaigns to report offers of foreign assistance to the FBI. DDT has already said he would welcome negative information about opponents in the 2020 election. Accepting help from a foreign entity or power is already illegal, but the bill would mandate reporting any offers. Blackburn said that mandatory reporting would pose an “overbroad” burden. At a recent conference, Israeli government minister Gilad Erdan bragged that Israel was responsible for laws in 27 U.S. states that blocked free speech supporting the boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign targeting Israel. Russia isn’t the only country controlling U.S. elections.

Plus a few more GOP members of Congress and Cabinet members. Despite DDT’s refusal to include the major tech companies, he must have faith in them. His campaign spent over $5 million on Facebook ads just this year.

DDT declared himself an environmental president this week came after polls showed him week in this area with millennials and suburban women. He repeated his bizarre statement that forest fires can be blocked by cleaning “dirty floors.” Yet he allowed timber companies to cut more trees, usually the big, more fire-resistant trees while leaving combustible piles of low-value tinder that exacerbate forest fires and bragged about “being good stewards of our public land,” reducing carbon emissions, and promoting the “cleanest air” and “crystal clean” water. In truth, DDT opened up public lands to drilling, signed off on the biggest rollback of federal land protection, and lifted a moratorium on new coal mining leases on public lands. The EPA is rolling back clean-water regulation of pollution in streams and wetlands, and DDT proposed opening up the U.S. coastline to offshore oil and gas drilling. Carbon emissions have declined in the U.S. but only half that of a dozen other country. DDT falsely cited the high cost of the Dems’ Green New Deal, not yet determined, and omitted the 3.1 percent increase in 2018 when taking credit for the decline in carbn emissions since 2000. DDT left out the part that he pushes coal plants that increase carbon dioxide emissions. Joining DDT for his speech were two Cabinet secretaries, former lobbyists for the coal and oil industries who oversee energy and environment issues.

Shortly before the speech, Washington, DC floods [left] from rain shut down part of a nearby subway station and created pools of water in the White House basement. New Orleans [right] faces an unprecedented problem, possibly worse than the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, with the Mississippi River at record flooding, 16 feet instead of the usual six to eight feet in midsummer. Tropical Storm Barry, the season’s first tropical system, could cause a storm surge of two to three feet at the river mouth for a crest of 20 feet, not seen since February 1950 and 2.3 feet short of the April 1922 record. Evacuations of almost 200 offshore oil facilities has cut off more than half the region’s oil output. An EPA report had warned of effects from the climate crisis, but DDT buried the information.

DDT’s White House pastor preaches that environmentalism is radical and foolish, because God put natural resources on earth for people to use up. EPA director Andrew Wheeler took credit for falling air pollution from 1970 to cover up the 3.1 percent increase in carbon emissions in 2018. DDT called himself “a believer in solar energy,” but he put huge tariffs on solar panels in 2018, eliminating thousands of solar installation jobs, and made deep cuts in solar funding. Although claiming credit for fighting Florida’s toxic algae problem, he failed to allocate sufficient funds to restore the Everglades and reduce polluted water discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

The one subject DDT left out of his speech on the environment? Climate change—or as it’s now called, climate crisis. He might want to reconsider this omission. He’s unpopular on a number of key issues such as health care, gun violence, foreign policy, immigration, and abortion, but his bottom rating—29 percent approval—is for his handling of climate change. In only one issue, the economy, is he over 50 percent approval—at 51 percent.

November 13, 2014

President Strikes Deal GOP Wants; GOP Furious

President Obama cut a deal with China while the GOP was crowing about the election, and the Republicans are livid. Following nine months of discussion, President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping announced a deal on carbon emissions.

The U.S. pledges to cut its emissions 26 to 28 percent below their 2005 levels by 2025, building on its current target of 17 percent reduction below that baseline by 2020. China promises to get 20 percent of its energy from non-fossil-fuel sources by 2030 and peak its overall carbon dioxide emissions that same year. The country will also deploy an additional 800 to 1,000 gigawatts of zero-carbon energy, approximately all the electricity generated in the U.S., by 2030. The U.S. part of the deal is doable under existing law. Emissions have already declined, and the president has created new rules on tailpipes and power plant rules. The European Union has also agreed to cut its emissions 40 percent below their 1990 levels by 2030.

The conservatives had argued that there was no reason for the U.S. to take action as long as China didn’t do anything. The president has argued that the U.S., as the world’s second-largest emitter, can’t expect other countries to step forward if this country doesn’t take action. Now China has stepped up, and the GOP lost its argument.

As both conservatives and environmentalists have pointed out, the language of the deal has wiggle room. These goals are statements of “intent”; the parties do not promise or even “agree” to accomplish these targets. The president can’t do anything on his own because foreign treaties require a two-thirds majority from the U.S. Senate for ratification.  The White House release refers to these goals as statements of “intent.” They don’t promise or even “agree” to hit these targets, they merely “intend” to.

Even before the president’s trip to China, members of the 114th Senate pledged to roll back the existing measures on the environment. The House has already voted to repeal the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, and the new GOP senate will also pass the bill. It’s a guarantee that there could be no successful vote for an emission-reduction treaty.

The senate’s new Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, was quick to criticize the Beijing pact. “This unrealistic plan, that the president would dump on his successor, would ensure higher utility rates and far fewer jobs,” he said. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) followed the party line with complaining about loss of jobs, and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the climate denier who will be head of the Environment and Public Works Committee in January, called the arrangement between the United States and China a “charade.”

Yet the senate cannot stop an announcement between China and the United States of this agreement of intentions.

Together, China and the United States produce over 40 percent of the carbon emissions for the entire planet. While China currently relies on coal and non-renewable energy to develop its economy, the United States is fighting against changing to alternative energy resources from traditional ones.

Global Carbon missionsByCountry

Republicans are already screaming about how the U.S. has to reduce emissions more steeply than previously planned while China does not have to immediately begin its reductions. Longstanding development and wealth in the United States, however, have caused this country to produce 29.3 percent of global cumulative carbon emissions, compared to only 7.6 percent from China. In the dea;, China’s plan is a model for emerging economies such as India, Brazil, and Indonesia.

cumulative pollutions

Watching the Fox network shows the real world what is being said in Conservativeland. The day before the president announced the deal, far-far-right Charles Krauthammer said that Obama should get a climate agreement with China. He said, “If we get one with China we have something real.” The week before, Krauthammer said, “If [President Obama] gets an agreement with China, which he won’t, but that’s the one area it would be historic.”

Immediately after the announcement from the president about the deal, Fox and Friends host Steve Doocy asked Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo, “Is the agreement just a sign that China has a hold on us?” She said that the president is giving China a pass on important issues such as cyber attacks, bootleg software, and handbags. Doocy joined the China- and Obama-bashing. “You want to talk about climate change? First let’s talk about how you’re stealing everything from us!”

Later Doocy slipped when he said that China’s participation in cutting emissions might clean the air so “they might be able to breathe for the first time.” Bartiromo brought him back to the Fox message that cleaning air doesn’t mean cleaner air.

Fox Business commentator Stuart Varney led with “Climate Deal with China Blasted as ‘War on Coal.” He listed the year of 2030 as the peak in China’s carbon emissions as “a total cave on the part of President Obama.” Both Doocy and Varney blamed China for all the pollution. In addition to the U.S. history of emitting more pollution, we have only one-fourth the population as China but still produce almost the same emissions.

Reporter Ben Adler gave four reasons that the Republicans are in such a snit about the president’s climate deal with China:

President Obama shows that he’s not backing down on the climate issue, even after the GOP thinks its in control.

The GOP loses its “we can’t do anything because China won’t” argument

The deal is another death knell for the coal industry after China seems to want to see their sky rather than export coal.

The Republicans’ increasing isolation makes them appear increasingly foolish. Only the European Union has led the U.S. in carbon regulation until now. China’s decision might draw in other countries, leaving only Russia on the conservatives’ side.

 

Foolishness doesn’t concern Republicans, however. Almost two-thirds of them would rather destroy the country than have anything to do with the current president. After the election, 62 percent of Republicans said in a Pew Research poll that they didn’t want the Republican leaders to work with the president at all. This followed all the verbiage from next year’s GOP leaders that they were ready to “compromise.”

Satirist Andy Borowitz has a humorous—but accurate—take on the position of Republicans in Congress:

“President Obama is under increasing pressure to work closely and coöperatively with a group of people who are suing him in federal court, the people suing him confirmed today.

“ ‘Over the past six years, President Obama has been stubborn, arrogant, and oppositional,” John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House, said. “His refusal to work with people who are suing him is just the latest example.’

“Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, echoed the Speaker’s criticism, adding, ‘Time and time again, the President has refused to pick up the phone and talk to me, despite my saying that I was doing everything in my power to make him a one-term President.’

140316003WM001_BOEHNER_AND_ [The country’s new leaders: Boehner (left) and McConnell (right)]

“Other members of the G.O.P. caucus blasted the President for being aloof and frosty to Republicans who had questioned his American citizenship, the authenticity of his birth certificate, and the legitimacy of his Presidency. ‘That’s no way to get things done,’ Senator James Inhofe, of Oklahoma, said. ‘He’s got a real attitude.’

“Boehner concluded his comments, however, with an olive branch of sorts for Obama. ‘Mr. President, we Republicans are eager to sit across the table from you and get to work for the American people,’ he said. “Otherwise, get ready to be impeached.’ ”

Borowitz summarized the GOP position about China with the first sentence of today’s column:

“The election of Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as the Senate Majority Leader was announced on Thursday by a puff of toxic black coal smoke rising from the United States Capitol.”

Borowitz is right. We will surely see far more toxins in the environment with the GOP in control of Congress.

December 31, 2013

Answers for Deniers of Climate Change

Climate change is here whether people admit it or not. In just the last year, 39 weather-related disasters cost $1 billion or more. In the Philippines, Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever recorded on land, killing more than 6,000 people and affecting millions more. In Australia, record high temperatures forced mapmakers to create a new color on the weather map. California had massive wildfires throughout the state, historic flooding took out bridges and roadways in Colorado’s flood destroyed bridges and roads, and Midwest tornadoes swept through towns such as Moore (OK).

For the first time, CO2 concentrations passed 400 parts per million, but governments are doing little to curb emissions. Climate-denier think tanks and advocacy groups are raking in hundreds of millions of dollars, frequently from secret sources.

At the end of 2013, the eating holidays of November and December have passed, followed by dieting, but arguments continue. These talking points from the Environmental Defense Fund were suggested for the holiday dinners, but in the interest of peace, I suggest that they can be addressed now to start off the new year.

Alarmed Aunt Anna & Concerned Grandpa Christopher believe that science may be real but think that we cannot solve the climate crisis:

  • California—the 8th largest economy in the world—has implemented the world’s most ambitious climate action plan.
  • At the national level, the EPA is starting to regulate climate pollution using its existing authority under the Clean Air Act.
  • The renewable energy industry is growing exponentially—in fact, the clean energy economy is growing twice as fast as the rest of the economy, and we have enough potential wind and solar energy in the U.S. to power our economy 100 times over.

Trump Card: Yes, this is challenging. Yes, it will take time to rebuild support for national climate action. But what choice do we have? There is no time to waste, and we need to act now.

Cautious Cousin Charlie, Disengaged Grandma Denise, & Doubtful Brother David think that there is not a real consensus on the science of climate change. Without attacks, here are the points to engage them:

  • Carbon dioxide is a heat-trapping gas, and that’s generally a very good thing. Without greenhouse gases, every night when the sun sets, temperatures would immediately plunge to frigid levels.
  • But we are now emitting 9 billion tons of carbon, or 30 billion tons of CO2, into the atmosphere every year, and CO2 levels have increased by about a third since the industrial revolution. If we don’t reduce emissions, we could more than double the level of CO2 in the atmosphere over this century.
  • Already, food growing patterns are changing, seasons are coming earlier, water resources are strained and the number of natural disasters in the U.S. has more than quadrupled in the last 50 years.

Trump Card: You don’t have to accept all the science. But if you had a health condition and 98 out of 100 doctors agreed on the diagnosis, would you base your treatment on the views of the other two?

Dismissive Aunt Debbie almost certainly won’t change her mind, and the more facts she hears, the less she’ll be inclined to agree. Yet she might be willing to help the economy and protect national security:

  • America needs to rebuild. Did you know the clean energy sector creates 3 times as many jobs as the fossil fuel sector? We can’t afford to pass up those jobs.
  • Other countries are taking advantage of the economic stimulation that comes with climate action. China is testing carbon cap-and-trade markets in an area encompassing 250 million people. The U.S. needs to stay competitive.
  • America’s billion-dollar-a-day dependence on oil from hostile nations directly funds our most dangerous enemies, putting guns and bullets into their hands and putting our soldiers in danger. It is time for America to stand strong on its own independent and in control of our energy future.

Trump Card:  Whether climate change is real or not, the benefits of a clean energy economy are undeniable. Not only will we rid ourselves of dangerous pollution that can make us sick and even cause deaths we can finally be energy independent. What’s the downside?

More thoughts to chew on— 

Costs: 

  • In just one year—2012—extreme weather events cost over $100 billion. The future will see higher and higher expenses, bringing even more burden to the U.S. taxpayer.
  • Federal and state disaster relief payouts last year alone are estimated to have cost every person in the US more than $300.
  • The nation had at least 200 annual weather-related natural catastrophes recently compared to about 50 in the early 1980s.
  • Federal crop insurance cost taxpayers a record $17 billion in 2012 alone.
  • Taxpayer-funded federal and state wildfire protection payouts tripled over the last 20 years.

 Lessons from the Colorado floods:

The tragedies of September’s flooding may be the new normal.

  • The 17 inches of rain caused the deaths of eight people and left people with millions of dollars in property damage, including public infrastructure.

flooding highway

  • The disaster came during Boulder’s driest month.
  • The warmer atmosphere held more water and unusual atmospheric circulation patterns came from climate change.
  • Heavy downpours may increase in intensity or frequency in this century.

Climate change and violence go hand in hand: 

  • There is a strong connection between rising temperatures and acts of violence, increasing war and murder
  • Human conflict increases 14% and violence rises 4% with even a modest shift in weather, according to an examination of almost 200 studies.
  • Neglecting the apparent psychological impact of unusual weather, the impact on the food supply and the decline of natural resources is likely to result in warfare on its own.

Negative affects of climate change on individuals:

  • Extreme weather may cause you to lose everything you have, including the people you love.
  • Your insurance costs will go up because the company has to pay out on disasters but still needs to make money.
  • Your food and utilities will cost much more because of extreme temperatures and problems of growing conditions.
  • You’ll have to pay more taxes to care for others that have extreme weather conditions.
  • You may suffer from serious health issues.
  • Your personal security is at risk. Admiral Samuel Locklear, a naval officer in charge of the Asia-Pacific region, said that global warming “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen . . . that will cripple the security environment.”

Denying these affects won’t allow you to escape them.

There’s still hope. A year ago, a 59-year-old woman, avid follower of Bill O’Reilly and opponent of belief in climate change, reversed her opinion after she watched Chasing Ice. The documentary film uses time-lapse to compress years into seconds, capturing the disappearance of ancient mountains of ice at a breathtaking pace. As with any change, it’s one heart at a time.

Tonight the calendar rolls over to 2014. Maybe we can remedy people’s failure to believe in climate change before 2015.

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