Nel's New Day

September 12, 2019

Bolton, Science Gone But Not Forgotten

John Bolton is the latest person who Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) dumped: Bolton said he resigned, and DDT’s tweeted that he fired his national security adviser. DDT’s stated reason was that he “disagreed strongly” with Bolton, who has been criticized for being a hawk. A recent disagreement was bringing the Taliban to Camp David for “peace talks” during the anniversary of the 9/11 U.S. bombings in 2001. DDT ignored Bolton and VP Mike Pence who said that the idea was bad. Bolton wouldn’t defend DDT’s positions on Afghanistan, North Korea, and Russia. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) expressed pleasure, saying that DDT should have “people around him who will carry out his policies.” Another major Senate suck-up Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was less pleased, saying that Bolton’s agenda “makes America safe.” Three of Bolton’s top aids resigned the day after DDT fired Bolton. 

Although DDT said that he fired Bolton Monday night, Bolton was still scheduled the next morning to appear with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin for a briefing about new sanctions against a “wide range” of terrorist groups and their supporters. Pompeo and Mnuchin (right) seemed to be downright giddy at the meeting with the press corps without Bolton.

DDT tweeted his firing of H.R. McMaster as national security adviser 17 months ago, but he’s been calling his ex-adviser for advice for almost a year and said he missed him. This pattern is not new: DDT called Reince Priebus after he became disenchanted with chief of staff replacement, John Kelly.

Charles M. Kupperman, Bolton’s acting replacement, might be worse than the war-mongering Bolton. Decades-long associates, they seem to be birds of a feather with Kupperman a past member on the boards of several defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Kupperman, a right-wing extremist, has connections to Islamophobe Frank Gaffney from when he served on the board of the misnamed Center for Security Policy that promotes Islamophobic conspiracy theories, according to Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Almost two weeks after Hurricane Dorian sat on the Bahamas for two days—and left Alabama untouched—1,300 people are still missing in the country of 395,000, and 50 people are dead. In the hardest-hit northern islands, almost 70,000 people of the 395,000 population have lost everything; on the Grand Bahama Island, population 50,000, three-fourths of the houses were underwater. A tropical storm is now headed for the Bahamas.

Not satisfied with the tragedies facing people from the Bahamas during the Category 5 hurricane, DDT turned on his cruelty to make it worse. He turned back over 100 people heading for refuge in Florida because they didn’t have visas. He refuses to grant temporary protected status to displaced people from the Bahamas, a status that would allow them to work and live in the U.S. until they could safely return home. Although existing visas permit Bahamans to come to the U.S., they won’t be allowed to work. DDT said some of those seeking aid could be “very bad people” and “very bad gang members” and “very, very bad drug dealers.” These statements were a 180-degree switch from DDT’s initial statement when he pledged U.S. help with recovery efforts. DDT said:

“We’re working hard, we’re with you, and God bless you.”

Florida GOP Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott asked that DDT permit Bahamians to live with their relatives in the United States, but DDT separated at least one family instead. CBP took refugee Kaytora Paul from her godmother and sent the child to a detention facility with migrant children. Paul’s mother were living in a wrecked car with Kaytora and her two younger children while Paul’s father stayed with an adult son after their home’s roof collapsed. Officials refused to release Kaytora to a biological aunt at the airport, and the mother, who went to Florida to get her daughter, was told she must apply to be her own daughter’s sponsor, a process requiring many documents and taking weeks. The mother would have been deported in two weeks, but immigration advocacy and publicity forced the reunification of Kaytora and her mother after the 12-year-old was in detention for four days.

DDT looks at all the federal agencies, even those supposed to be independent, as personal “fixers” for his whatever he wants, such as DDT’s forcing NOAA to back his lies about Hurricane Dorian badly damaging Alabama. Documentation shows that a top NOAA official ordered its staff to not contradict DDT’s lies about Hurricane Dorian doing great damage to Alabama. Media reports that DDT told his staff to deal with NOAA contradicting his weather forecast, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney called Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to fix the problem, and Ross threatened to fire people if they didn’t immediately take care of it. DDT said he didn’t tell NOAA to do this. No, he told his staff to tell NOAA. Democrats on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology are investigating the Commerce Department’s part in NOAA’s decision siding with DDT over its scientists and requested a briefing with Commerce Department staff. Former NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco said:

“It is truly sad to see political appointees undermining the superb, lifesaving work of NOAA’s talented and dedicated career servant.”

A meteorologist said that he had never before been told “to not say that truly is the forecast.” Other agencies have sided with DDT against facts, but accurate weather forecasts in disasters are vital to preserving lives. Acting NOAA administrator Neil Jacobs and NOAA director of public affairs Julie Kay Roberts, who had worked on DDT’s campaign, were responsible for the anonymous false statement trying to cover up for DDT’s “mistake.” The department’s Inspector General is reviewing NOAA’s statement supporting DDT’s false statement about the great danger to Alabama from Hurricane Dorian.

Most of DDT’s hurricane briefings were by people without meteorological expertise. A 2018 survey of scientists in 16 federal agencies revealed a culture of fear and self-censorship with sidelined scientific evidence in favor of political expediency.

Meteorology will become even more problematic if DDT gets his 5G cellphone networks that seriously degrade forecasting accuracy, up to 30 percent according to Jacobs’ testimony on Capitol Hill. He added that the loss in tracking could cut “forecasts’ lead time by roughly two to three days,” a catastrophic effect on human life. The 5G is already available from Verizon to corporate customers in some cities.

In his desire to return to 1986 in water pollution, DDT will roll back a 2015 regulation to protect waters that feed into But critics say the rollback will speed the conversion of wetlands and headwaters, which provide critical habitat for wildlife and support the nation’s drinking water supply. Americans drained about half of the 220 million acres of wetlands in the contiguous United States between the 1970s and 1980s, most of it to expand farmland. The 2015 rule gave the federal government authority to oversee a wide array of lakes, streams, wetlands, storm-water controls and ditches that feed into larger waterways that are clearly protected under the 1972 Clean Water Act. He justified the rollback with his claim that he wants “crystal clean water.”

The DDT-led Equal Employment Opportunity Commission plans to dump reporting rules by large companies, those with more than 100 workers, for gender and race pay disparities by large companies. In 2017, Mick Mulvaney, Director of Office of Management and Budget, froze the data collection, but a court ordered the collection for 2017 and 2018. DDT’s EEOC chair confirmed by 50-43, Janet Dhillon, is a former general counsel for Burlington Stores and JCPenney. The gender pay gap has not moved from 82 percent during the past year, only four percent higher than the 78 percent 12 years ago. The gap is 62 percent for black women and 54 percent for Latinas. Ivanka Trump opposed collecting the data after she tweeted on Equal Pay Day that “we must work to close the gender pay gap!”

Luckily DDT has Pompeo to lie for him. He was in Kansas when a state university a physics professor asked Pompeo if he supported “the suppression of scientific reports from the U.S. Department of State” because of the “exodus of scientists” from federal agencies after their work is suppressed. Pompeo said he disagrees because “no one supports the absence of science.” With a straight face, he said this and more on the same day that NOAA was told to support DDT’s falsifying science with his Sharpie line on a hurricane map. DDT also didn’t a pick a scientist to be the chief scientist at the USDA, and he hid dozens of government-funded studies warning about the climate crisis and potentially dangerous chemicals.

DDT, however, knows that his magical black sharpie pen that he uses to sign orders, make notes on his hands for speeches, and redirect hurricane warnings will solve everything. 

September 6, 2019

DDT: Week 137 – Alabama’s Hurricane, Pentagon’s Pandering

Almost 70 years ago, Herman Wouk wrote The Caine Mutiny, a fictionalized account of a mutiny on a U.S. destroyer-minesweeper during World War II. Worried about the potential loss of the ship during a storm, the executive officer takes command from Captain Queeg at the suggestion of the communications office who talks about Section 184 of the Navy regs. Citing Queeg’s incompetence, cowardice, and mental illness, the officer prevents the loss of the ship in a storm but is then tried by court martial. A highlight of the movie based on the book, featuring Humphrey Bogart as Queeg, is the scene in which Queeg breaks down under questioning about an episode regarding strawberries.

When Queeg shared a large tin of strawberries, a gift from another ship’s captain, with his officers, they were given one scoop while Queeg had two—like the scoops of ice cream that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) doles out. He gets two and everyone else gets one. That night, Queeg wants more strawberries and finds them missing. In a fury, he obsessively wakes his sailors and orders them to search throughout the ship for his strawberries before the out-of-control Queeg concocts the theory, never proved, that crewmen secretly copied keys to the icebox and obsessively forces more searching to locate them.

The Caine Mutiny led to the 25th Amendment  blocking one person such as the vice president to pronounce that a president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Instead the majority of the Cabinet must initiate the process, and two-thirds of the Congress must also agree. For the past 960 days, however, Republican leaders have ignored DDT’s obsessive lying, incompetence, and inability to maintain control of himself.

On the day of his inauguration, DDT insisted that his crowd was bigger than the crowd for any president’s inauguration and insisted on photographs that proved his lie. Since then, he continued with his own out-of-control, incompetent, obsessive behavior with wild claims about his winning the popular vote because of voter fraud, claiming all news he didn’t like to be fake news, and creating far more fantasies to show that he is a god who can control nature. His statement about Hurricane Dorian damaging Alabama, however, hit a high point.   

David Lauter put DDT’s “strawberry” episode with his Alabama proclamation and obsession of proving himself right into three acts. DDT’s behavior entire focus on the hurricane was the non-existent problem in Alabama while Dorian devastated the Bahamas (sounds like Alabama?) and killed possibly hundreds of people, threatened Florida, damaged North Carolina, and heads to the Northeast coast.

Act I – The Gathering Storm

Sunday, September 1: DDT’s first tweet – “In addition to Florida—South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.”

National Hurricane Center’s forecasts showed that any small chance of Dorian hitting the Gulf Coast disappeared at least a day earlier. Twenty minutes after DDT’s tweets, the National Weather Service’s Birmingham (AL) station tweeted to set the record straight and reassure Alabama residents that they were safe from a fearsome storm: “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.”

Christopher Vaccaro, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), wrote in an email, “The current forecast path of Dorian does not include Alabama.”

DDT repeated his personal warning to Alabama that afternoon in televised remarks from a Federal Emergency Management Agency briefing.  

Act 2 – The TV Hour

Monday, September 2: ABC correspondent Jon Karl noted Trump’s mistake and the weather service’s response: “He also misstated the storm’s possible trajectory [and the weather service] corrected the president.” Karl also commented that DDT canceled his scheduled trip to Poland, supposedly to monitor the hurricane, but played golf at his Virginia country club.

DDT doesn’t admit mistakes, claims he works hard, criticizes President Obama for playing golf, and obsessively watches television while saying that he pays little attention to TV. He called Karl a “lightweight reporter” on Twitter and made his usual slurs against the media: “It was in fact correct that Alabama could have received some ‘hurt.’ Always good to be prepared! But the Fake News is only interested in demeaning and belittling. Didn’t play my whole sentence or statement. Bad people!” 

Act 3 – Closing the Ring

Wednesday, September 4: Cable news reported on the story, and DDT performed in the Oval Office by displaying a NOAA weather map showing the August 29 forecast track, in white but added a black Sharpie line over a sliver of southern Alabama. DDT said, “That was the original chart. It could’ve — was going towards the Gulf.” Altering official government weather forecasts is illegal with the possibility of a prison term and fine as well as dangerous for people who believe him.    

Thursday, September 5: Rear Adm. Peter Brown, a Coast Guard flag officer and White House homeland security and counter-terrorism advisor, issued a 225-word statement carefully explaining that his briefings to DDT “included the possibility of tropical storm force winds in southeastern Alabama.”

Coda – Protecting DDT

Friday, September 6: NOAA reversed its earlier message about the forecast not including Alabama and disavowed the September 1 tweet from the National Weather Service that corrected DDT about the danger in Alabama from Dorian: “Birmingham National Weather Service’s Sunday morning tweet spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time. From Wednesday, August 28, through Monday, September 2, the information provided by NOAA and the National Hurricane Center to President Trump and the wider public demonstrated that tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama.”

DDT, now feeling vindicated through the lies of a federal agency, tweeted: “The Fake News Media was fixated on the fact that I properly said, at the beginnings of Hurricane Dorian, that in addition to Florida & other states, Alabama may also be grazed or hit.”

James Spann, a meteorologist based in Alabama, wrote that the September 1 tweet from the National Weather Service in Birmingham that corrected DDT was “spot on and accurate.”

During all the crises of last week, including a Category 5 hurricane, DDT, fixated on his insistence of always being right, posted nine tweets and five maps about Alabama and the big storm to justify his mistake, ordered a White House official to release a 225-word statement defending his error that could endanger lives, and coerced NOAA into lying for him. He also called Fox correspondent John Roberts into his office to again lie about the hurricane hitting Alabama and “to hit back at Shepard Smith.”

On his show, Smith said

“Why would the president of the United States do this? He decries fake news that isn’t and disseminates fake news that is. Think China pays the tariffs. The wall is going up. Historic inauguration crowds. The Russia probe was a witch hunt. You need an ID to buy cereal. Noise from windmills causes cancer. It’s endless!”

DDT increasingly manipulates government agencies to enrich his personal businesses, costing taxpayers millions of dollars, for example refueling stops that an Air National Guard crew made last spring on a routine trip from the U.S. to Kuwait to deliver supplies. The stops at a small airport 20 miles from DDT’s Scottish Turnberry resort and 50 miles outside Glasgow (Scotland) cost much more than charges at a military base in the UK, such as nearby Lakenheath Air Base in England. The military spent $11 million on 629 fuel purchase orders at the airport since October 2017, and the airport paid for a five-person crew to stay at DDT’s golf resort along with free rounds of golf. One crew member said that their per diem allowance wasn’t enough to cover food and drinks.

In the past, the same plane refueled at U.S. air bases in Germany, Spain, Azores, and Italy. Never in Scotland. Since April, the Pentagon has stonewalled the House Oversight Committee’s investigation requesting information about the reason for the location of the stops en route to the Middle East and the transport plane’s return and refused to send any documents to the committee.

The reason for stops at Turnberry may be to keep the golf resort from going under: in 2017 the property lost $4.5 million, but revenue went up $3 million in 2018. The golf resort must keep the airport to be at all viable. The Scottish government bought the debt-ridden airport in 2013 for £1. In June, the Scottish government said it will sell the airport that continues to lose money. U.S. taxpayer money is vital for the airport: the authorization of U.S. payments to Prestwick worth £1.4m in the first three months of 2019 is equivalent to revenue from passenger services in 2017 and 2018.

Over two months ago, a Scottish newspaper reported that the U.S. Defense Department is set to sign a contract to continue refueling until fall 2024 with over 35 transactions a month and another £8m from 12.4 million gallons of aviation fuel, three million more than the existing arrangement. Taxpayer spending at both the airport and at DDT’s property may be conflicts of interest and violations of the Emoluments Clause. Even worse, such actions could be illegal activities on the part of the Pentagon that appears to pander to DDT’s desires and further make the U.S. look like a dictatorship.   

January 16, 2019

Past, Future of a Fishing Village

The Port of Newport in Oregon oversees Yaquina Bay, an area that is home to research ships from NOAA after its Pacific marine operations relocated from Lake Union (WA), the Hatfield Marine Science Center which is operated by Oregon State University, and the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Residents have struggled to keep the water clean for these facilities, however, as businesses have tried to take over in the 21st century.

In 2005, a company from the United Arab Emirates wanted to recycle huge ships in this large bay, commonly known as “ship breaking,” by removing all hazardous wastes and then cutting the ships into pieces that are then sold as scrap metal. These ships were anchored in a California bay because the government no longer needed them. Because of the danger from polluting the bay, the community stopped the venture to keep the Hatfield facility and the Oregon Aquarium safe. Business people were upset with the loss because the ship breaking promised as many as 125 jobs within two years.

Yaquina Bay had been selected for the project because Oregon’s environmental regulations are more lax than those in California. Ships in Newport wouldn’t even be in drydock to destroy invasive species as they are in other areas such as Texas. After sitting in California for another four years, the government sent the ships to Texas for dismantling.

The next proposed venture for the Yaquina Bay came after a bond measure in 2010 with the $28 million restructuring of the Newport International Terminal that would provide about 40 jobs. By 2013, the Port had contracted to bring logs to the small town of Newport, about one truck every 20 minutes on the winding road from Corvallis and down through residential areas to the terminal, so that raw logs could be shipped overseas to China.

Between the time of the passing of the bond for the terminal reconstruction and the Port’s contract to bring logs through Newport, the Port won a bid to become the new home for NOAA’s new Marine Operations Center-Pacific Facility. NOAA built a $38 million facility with a pier long enough for five large ships and arranged for the relocation of at least 175 high-paying jobs to Newport.

Newport residents continued to express concerns about foreign ships bringing invasive species in its ballast, toxic issues from debarking the logs before they were shipped, and threats that large fishing ships could no longer dock at the Newport International Terminal. As many as 15 fishing vessels moor at the terminal at the same time during peak fishing activity November 1 to January 10 and April 1 to May 15 because the port has no other place with shore power and other services for these large vessels. After improvements to the terminal, for example, Fred Yeck brought his 124-foot trawler F/V Sea Dawn back to Newport. With Newport the top commercial fishing port on the West Coast, the industry pours hundreds of millions of dollars into the economy.

The contract for the logging shipments was canceled, but another problem arose in the past few months: conservative legislators from eastern Oregon took on the longshore group’s cause to take local leadership from the Port and put it into the hands of state government. The local newspaper News-Times printed opposing viewpoints about the proposed legislation, HB 2284. Members of the longshore organization wrote about HB 2284 turning Newport into “a vital part of the economic engine for the mid-coastal area” and making promises of “expanded family wage jobs, expanded business growth.”

Robert Smith, owner of the F/V Raven, pointed out that lobbyist for the bill lives in “the valley” (a term for the I-5 corridor 50 miles inland) and may not be aware of the economic activity in the port—NOAA, Hatfield, OSU, Rogue Brewery, the aquarium, and the facility from OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry). As Smith wrote, the marine research, including wave and wind energy development, generates millions of dollars and expected to create hundreds of jobs. He provided much more information about more reasons for preserving local leadership of the Port.

Newport (OR) is well on the way to become the premier research center of the West Coast comparable to Woods Hole. A short-sighted shift to focusing on shipping logs, which takes manufacturing jobs out of the United States, destroys the future of Newport and its potential for more living-wage employment.

As the state battles the question of whether the Port of Newport should lose its local leadership—and possibly its existing marine benefits—go back in time in Sue Hardesty’s history of the Newport International Terminal:

Among the many things I love about living on Oregon’s Yaquina Bay are the bits of history platted about on its edges or used in ways it was never meant to be—for example, the huge ship propeller stationed outside our Pacific Maritime Heritage Center. My interest, however, is not so much in the propeller (although it is beautiful) as it is in the SS CW Pasley ship [below right] to which it was once attached. This ship was named after Sir Charles William Pasley (1780-1861), a British military engineer who wrote textbooks and experimented with improving concrete. McCloskey and Company built the Pasley, one of a fleet of 24 concrete ships, under a wartime emergency program near the end of World War II. The decks and hulls were made entirely of concrete with six-inch-thick walls reinforced with rebar.

The second concrete-hulled vessel purchased by the port was the SS Joseph Aspdin, named for a Brit who received a patent for “Portland” cement made from limestone on the English Channel. The Aspdin is remembered as “the ship that committed suicide.” She broke loose of its moorings in the dark of night, left Yaquina Bay, went aground, and sank

In 1948, the Pasley and the SS Francois Hennebique, named after a French stonemason who pioneered in reinforced concrete, were floated into place to build a wharf at McLean Point on the south side of Yaquina Bay and sunk by blasting holes in their sides and bottoms. Over time the Pasley shifted and rolled toward the bay, and structural failure caused cracks in the hull. Oil leaks polluting the bay finally closed the wharf in 2001.

 

I watched the renovation of the terminal that began in 2010. The Pasley was refloated and dismantled and the Hennebique partially dismantled. Much of the Hennebique hull still remains under the terminal, and I can see the bow on the edge of the tarmac where fishing boats are serviced. The cement from the hulls was ground up and reused as paving material and the metal rebar recycled. The new terminal opened for business in August 2013.

Back in 1942, McCloskey had received a federal contract in 1942 to build the fleet of concrete ships because steel was scarce. All 24 ships were built at an incredible rate of speed, with the first one launched within a month, and named after pioneers in the science and development of concrete. In addition to the ones in Yaquina Bay, two ships were sunk as blockships in the Allied invasion of Normandy, and nine more were sunk as breakwaters for a ferry landing at Kiptopeke, Virginia. Seven are still afloat in a giant breakwater on the Powell River in Canada to protect the logging pond of the Powell River Company pulp and paper mill in BC, Canada.

The future USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115) is floated from the dock for the first time during its October 2015 christening at Bath Iron Works.

At 420 feet, the SS Peralta is the largest—and oldest—concrete ship afloat and comprises part of the Powell River breakwater with eight other concrete ships that McCloskey built. Originally an oil tanker built during World War I, the Peralta was converted to a sardine cannery in Alaska in 1924. Twenty-four years later, she was taken to Antioch (CA) where she served for another ten years before moving to Canada with nine World War II concrete ships.

August 27, 2012

Cut Defense; Leave NOAA, FEMA, Safety Net Alone

The GOP convention was intended to be the big story for this week until Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) brought abortion and rape into the dialog and dug up the GOP’s position. The biggest story, however, is Tropical Storm Isaac which probably will become a hurricane before landfall somewhere in the Gulf Coast states.

Gov. Bobby Jindal cancelled his speech at the GOP convention to get back to Louisiana because of the threat to New Orleans, and Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott dropped out of the convention to protect his state. Nobody knows Isaac’s actual destination when it’s predicted to his land early Wednesday morning. Governors of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana have started evacuations in their states and joined Scott in declaring emergencies.

The irony of the Isaac story is that Republicans have received early warning after trying to drastically cut funds for disaster preparedness and response. Their continuing resolution 2011 budget shrank funding for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association’s (NOAA) Operations, Research, and Facilities by $454.3 million. The National Weather Service, part of NOAA, lost $126 million; FEMA dropped $24.3 million with FEMA state and local programs losing $783.3 million. Fortunately, this budget didn’t stick.

As part of last August’s Budget Control Act, Republicans agreed to make it easier to fund disaster relief but then reneged on this agreement. This isn’t new. Back in his 2009 response to the State of the Union, Jindal ridiculed the stimulus for having “$140 million for something called volcano monitoring.” Jindal is governor of a state that has hurricanes, not volcanoes. Not everyone else in the United States is in the same situation.

NOAA warned Congress that Republican cuts would stop them from warning people about hurricanes five to ten days out because of its aging satellites. Without the funding, the United States could go up to 18 months or even longer without any satellites.  If that were to happen, the Republicans might not know a hurricane is imminent for their 2016 convention.

Even when NOAA doesn’t want extra money for a project, Congress refused to allow them to make their activities more efficient. Last fall, when NOAA wanted to reorganize its existing climate capabilities and services into a “single point of entry” for users, Congress said no. NOAA cannot be permitted to “more efficiently and effectively respond to the rapidly increasing demand for easily accessible and timely scientific data and information about climate that helps people make informed decisions in their lives, businesses, and communities.”

The idea was that efficient, up-to-date information is important because of the likelihood of more droughts, floods, and storms; Republicans can’t admit that climate is changing. Since Congress turned down NOAA’s proposal, the organization has announced the last year and last half year are the hottest on record. The second half of this past June saw at least 170 all-time high temperatures either broken or tied. As of July 3, 56 percent of the contiguous U.S. experienced drought conditions, the largest percentage in the 12-year record of the U.S. Drought Monitor. During the June 2011-June 2012 period, each of the 13 consecutive months ranked among the warmest third of their historical distribution for the first time in the 1895-present record. The odds of this occurring randomly is 1 in 1,594,323.

When disastrous tornadoes hit Missouri, Republicans threatened to hold up any assistance until there were cuts in other places. The same for Virginia’s earthquake and the east coast’s Hurricane Irene.  A year ago House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) demanded that “that no more money be allocated for disaster relief unless it is offset by spending cuts elsewhere”—until he asked for FEMA money for his own district a month later.

If Republicans don’t get the FEMA aid that they request, they are angry. When FEMA refused a request for federal aid for wildfire victims in Oklahoma, Gov. Mary Fallin called a government agency’s rejection letter “bureaucratic” and “cruel.”

If anything is “bureaucratic” and “cruel,” it’s the Republicans’ refusal to allow states’ residents to get the health care from the federal government that costs the states nothing. Texas is a prime example: the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has now upheld Texas’s decision to deny women any health care through Planned Parenthood or other clinic that simply makes referrals for abortions.  The court decision will deny health care to at least 50,000 women.

Texas has also refused to accept the federal money that would provide Medicaid for people with salaries between one-fourth of the poverty level and one and one-fourth of the poverty level. Because of Gov. Rick Perry’s arrogance and indifference, families making between $5,000 and $25,000 will not qualify for Medicaid or any other remedy from the Affordable Care Act. That’s bureaucratic and cruel.

If Republicans want FEMA help for people who need assistance, they need to allocate funds for it. They also need to revise their position in denying all people any safety net except the wealthy—who don’t need it. And they need to stop using their personal morality to control women.

Where can the government get the money to help people? Defense expenditures went from $583.38 billion in 2003 when we were in two wars to $711.42 billion in 2011 when we were no longer in war. About a half century ago, Dwight Eisenhower said, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.” We are now living in Eisenhower’s nightmare.

If Republicans want small government, they should start with the defense budget. Support the programs that actually help people, such as the safety net and NOAA.

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