What Fresh Hell Is This?

April 23, 2017

Donald Trump's Earth Day Statement - It Doesn't Say What You Think It Says.

First, the statement. At present (Sunday 8:40 am EDT) the statement has yet to be posted at Whitehouse.gov but here it is complete:
Our Nation is blessed with abundant natural resources and awe-inspiring beauty. Americans are rightly grateful for these God-given gifts and have an obligation to safeguard them for future generations. My Administration is committed to keeping our air and water clean, to preserving our forests, lakes, and open spaces, and to protecting endangered species.

Economic growth enhances environmental protection. We can and must protect our environment without harming America's working families. That is why my administration is reducing unnecessary burdens on American workers and American companies, while being mindful that our actions must also protect the environment.

Rigorous science is critical to my administration's efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection. My Administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks. As we do so, we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.

This April 22nd, as we observe Earth Day, I hope that our nation can come together to give thanks for the land we all love and call home.
I'm wondering if you caught the dog whistle.  HuffingtonPost didn't:
“Rigorous science is critical to my Administration’s efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection,” Trump said. “My Administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks. As we do so, we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.”

But under Trump, the EPA’s Office of Science and Technology has removed “science” from its mission statement. Trump and Pruitt have questioned well established science that shows global warming is real. His administration has proposed gigantic cuts to biomedical and scientific research and, the EPA and environmental programs.
I'm not saying any of that is wrong, by the way, but by juxtaposing Trump's words with his actions like that, it looks to us like he's lying (yet again). True as that is, it's also completely beside the point. Take a look at the dog whistle again.  Specifically, the part that says that:
...rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.
What he's doing is that he's talking to the climate science deniers and no one else.  It's the use of the word "ideology" is the clue.

Don't think so?  Take a look at this quote from a Trib editorial from 2014:
What climate alarmists have left to fall back on is anything but science. [S. Fred] Singer says they “embrace faith and ideology — and are no longer interested in facts.”
Or this one from 2010:
Rejoice, Church of Climatology! Your savior has revealed himself and is proclaiming his intentions to humanity -- in the form of Great Britain's Prince Charles.

Yet it's his fellow climate alarmists who've perverted genuine science. [Italics in original.]
Or how about this interview from 2015 with the former neverTrumper, Senator Ted Cruz:
Well, I believe that public policy should follow the science and follow the data. I am the son of two mathematicians and computer programmers and scientists. In the debate over global warming, far too often politicians in Washington - and for that matter, a number of scientists receiving large government grants - disregard the science and data and instead push political ideology. [Emphasis added.]
You see, what's going on with the science deniers is that they don't think they're actually denying science, in fact they think they're defending it (they're wrong, of course, but that's a separate argument).  They've settled on a few untruths that fit their ideology and simply declared them facts.  Here's a few of the untruths:
  • The Earth stopped warming X years ago.
  • Climategate proved that the scientists are doctoring the data.
  • Satellite data shows no warming in the upper atmosphere.
  • There's no consensus among scientists.
And whenever any of the 97% of climate scientists (or any of the rest of us who agree with them) who support the science attempt to disagree with any of those falsehoods, they're immediately branded as close-minded ideologues who are trying to shut down the the otherwise rigorous scientific debate over the still undecided validity of climate science. If you think the debate is settled, you're part of the conspiracy to silence the truth.

It doesn't matter that the actual facts are on the side of the 97% of the actual climate scientists because remember that number and the fact's they've constructed are false, too!

Now take another look at Trump's defense:
[R]igorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.
Now do you see what's going on? The "honest inquiry and robust debate" isn't found among the majority of the world's climate scientists but among those who oppose them.  That's what Trump said on Earth Day, though most of us couldn't hear it. 

It's a dog whistle through and through.

April 22, 2017

Because "There is no Planet B"

Some photos from today's March for Science in Pittsburgh from my friend Joy Sabl. She's a geneticist who's married to a nuclear physicist (because that's how my friends roll).

Brain hat replaces pussy hat today

The #unless refers to "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not." from The Lorax by Dr. Seuss


More truth!

Bonus Points if you get these.

The crowd 

On the move!


Note: The quote in the title of this post comes from this article.

Today, In Oakland

From Templeton of the P-G:
Science has been attacked from multiple directions throughout the ages, with current challenges to established research on climate change, evolution and environmental stewardship and continuing cuts in research funding through the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies.

So scientists and the pro-science community are striking back peaceably with a March For Science noon Saturday in Washington, D.C., with sister marches in more than 400 cities worldwide, including one in Pittsburgh’s neighborhood of Oakland that’s expected to attract 2,000 to 5,000 people.
I'm so glad Templeton got to use the phrase "established research on climate change" in the first paragraph - it's almost as if 97% of the planet's experts in that field agree that the science is valid or something.

Compare that to the Trib's coverage of the "March for Science" recently held at Cal U.

The closest it gets to mentioning climate science is this paragraph:
President Donald Trump's proposed budget, released in March, includes a $2.6 billion spending slash to the Environmental Protection Agency. The cut represents a third of the agency's budget and has been widely criticized because it would eliminate billions of dollars for scientific research programs.
But we all know what that means, right? If you're not sure, luckily the Washington Post reported:
The proposed budget, if enacted, would discontinue funding for the Clean Power Plan — the signature Obama administration effort to combat climate change by regulating carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. It would sharply reduce money for the Superfund program and cut the budget for the EPA’s prominent Office of Research and Development roughly in half, to $250 million.
But coming from a paper with such an outspoken science-denying editorial board, it's hardly surprising that someone (perhaps) decided to adios the phrase "climate science" from the Trib's news coverage of the coverage of the March for Science.

Don't get me wrong, on Friday night the Trib did go with some coverage of the upcoming march - but only with the first three paragraphs of this Washington Post article from earlier Friday talking about the the march taking place 240 miles away in Washington DC.

Why no coverage of the local march taking place today?  Isn't the defense of science important enough?

April 21, 2017

Meanwhile, Outside...

From the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):
The combined global average temperature over the land and ocean surfaces for March 2017 was 1.05°C (1.89°F) above the 20th century average of 12.7°C (54.9°F). This was the second highest for March since global temperature records began in 1880, behind the record year 2016 by 0.18°C (0.32°F) and ahead of 2015 by +0.15°C (+0.27°F). March 2017 marks the first time since April 2016 that the global land and ocean temperature departure from average was greater than 1.0°C (1.8°F) and the first time the monthly temperature departure from average surpasses 1.0°C (1.8°F) in the absence of an El Niño episode in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Overall, March 2017 tied with January 2016 as the fifth highest monthly global land and ocean temperature departure from average on record (1,647 monthly records). The record monthly temperature departure of 1.23°C (2.21°F) was set in March 2016.
The second highest for March since global temperature records began in 1880.

Meanwhile in Trump's administration, this is going on:
Scott Pruitt, the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, has said that the US should back out of its commitment to the Paris climate agreement, the landmark plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions in a bid to limit global warming to below 2˚C.

This follows President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to cancel the agreement, with a decision on whether he will do so expected within the next month.

“It’s a bad deal for America,” Pruitt told cable news show Fox & Friends last week. “China and India had no obligations under the agreement until 2030.”
Of course, this being the Trump administration, facts are kept far out of the discussion.  On the other hand, Pruitt got fact-checked by Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post:
Pruitt clearly needs to brush up on the Paris Accord, as it’s false to claim that China and India have “no obligations” until 2030.

China and India, just like the United States, have made commitments that are supposed to be fulfilled by 2030, meaning they have to take action now in order to meet those goals. The United States made more substantial commitments — which the Trump administration is abandoning — because the United States, on a per capita basis, is a much bigger polluter than either country.

Pruitt earns Four Pinocchios.
And Fact-check.org where they found his assertion to be false.

Facts are stubborn things and it's still getting warmer out there and we're still causing it.

Meanwhile, this weekend, science is defended in Pittsburgh.

April 20, 2017

As The Man Said, Follow The Money (The Trib, The Minimum Wage, And America Rising)

Take a look at this editorial from my friends on the Tribune-Review editorial board:
A new study confirming that government minimum-wage diktats hurt the low-income workers they're supposed to help is especially noteworthy because it comes from a local-level government that's nevertheless forging ahead with a higher minimum wage.
Ah, yes. The Trib braintrust writes about a new study that somehow confirms what Republicans already believe.  But take a look at the details of the study itself.  From its last paragraph:
Ultimately, generalizations on the “overall” impacts of the $15 MWP will depend in large part on the importance of - or weight given to - worker incomes vis -à- vis firm - level profits. With such caveats in mind, our estimates suggest that most workers’ incomes will be improved significantly, firm profits will fall slightly, and job loss will be relatively small. [Emphasis added.]
And from its first:
Using our microsimulation model with city - level restricted tax data and publicly available government data, we predict that over 60,000 District residents will be impacted by this policy; residents will observe an average increase of about 20% in wage income, while about 3.4% of District resident workers will experience job loss. We also find that the city’s affected EITC recipients will lose a total of $16.4 million in federal and local EITC payments in 2021 while gaining $56.6 million in additional wages by way of the $15 minimum wage. [Emphasis added.]
And yet, this is what we get from the braintrust:
“This study proves what we've known all along,” says Jeremy Adler, communications director for conservative policy group America Rising Squared — that minimum-wage hikes “will hurt the most vulnerable in the District, costing them jobs and important economic opportunities.”
The folks at America Rising Squared (and their fellow travelers at the Trib) report nothing but bad news.  But where's the part about how the "average increase of about 20% in wage income"?  The $56.6 million in additional wages?

Silence about all that stuff.  Gee, I wonder why.

America Rising Squared.

Who're they?

From The BridgeProject:
America Rising is a for-profit group which is the unofficial research arm of the Republican Party.
But hey, don't take the Bridge Project's word on it.  Follow that link.  It heads to the Wall Street Journal.  Even if you don't have a subscription to the WSJ, the words "unofficial research arm of the Republican party" can be clearly seen in the second paragraph.

But hey (again), what if the Journal were criticizing America Rising?  Hey, maybe America Rising doesn't want to be called the "unofficial research arm of the Republican party" howbow dah? Well, the good folks at America Rising actually excerpted the Journal's piece on them at their website - so I am guessing they agree with the description.

Well, how about that, huh?

So here's my question: why didn't the Trib braintrust describe America Rising with the words "unofficial research arm of the Republican party" and why did they fail to discuss the many benefits actually outlined in that new study they're using to bash any rise in the minimum wage?

Because, my friends, they are hiding the truth from you.


April 18, 2017

My TENTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey

I'll be dropping this letter to Senator Pat Toomey in the mail today:
Dear Senator Toomey:

It's me, again. Your constituent who also writes for the local Pittsburgh-based political blog, "2 Political Junkies."

As you may know, this past week thousands of American citizens (including many here in Pittsburgh) took to the streets and demanded that Donald Trump do what presidents have done for 40 years - release his tax returns to the public.

During the campaign he said he'd absolutely release them, then he said he'd release them once his audit is complete (even though there's no legal obligation to withhold them while under audit) and then after the election he said that no one cares about seeing his taxes, anyway.

Do I need to point out the petition currently at Whitehouse.gov with a million signatures on it from citizens who absolutely do care about seeing his tax returns?

The reason the American people are entitled to see any sitting president's tax returns is simple: we have a right to know if decisions are being made for the good of the American people or simply for the good of that president's finances. One of the best ways to know that is to know see that president's financial details.

If it was good enough for Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, it should be good enough for Donald J. Trump, don't you agree?

That's this week's question.

I await your response.
And I will be posting whatever response I get from him or his office.


April 17, 2017

April 17 - Thorton Wilder's Birthday

In the Age Of Trump, I thought it might be a good idea to remind, gently, of some of the more beautiful things America created pre-Trump.

For example, today is Thorton Wilder's birthday.  He's famous for writing, among a few other things of course, the play Our Town.  For me this triggered this memory:

Something to ponder while pondering the pussy-grabber now sitting (with help from Russian Intelligence) in the Oval Office.

April 14, 2017

When Can We Show Donald Trump The Door?

From the Guardian in the UK:
Britain’s spy agencies played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington to contacts between members of Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, the Guardian has been told.

GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information, they added.

Over the next six months, until summer 2016, a number of western agencies shared further information on contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russians, sources said.
In late 2015.  That was before Paul Manafort joined the Trump Campaign in late March, 2016.  That was before Carter Page was announced as part of Trump's foreign policy team (also March, 2016).

Before we go any further, the Guardian has this to say to our conspiracy-minded Trump defenders out there:
It is understood that GCHQ was at no point carrying out a targeted operation against Trump or his team or proactively seeking information. The alleged conversations were picked up by chance as part of routine surveillance of Russian intelligence assets. Over several months, different agencies targeting the same people began to see a pattern of connections that were flagged to intelligence officials in the US.
They were tracking Russian intelligence assets and then noticed that those Russian intelligence assets were talking to some Trump people.

Back to our story - Both Page and Manafort have been tied to various Russian intrigues in recent months.  So if it wasn't Page or Manafort, who in the Trump campaign was talking to elements of Russian Intelligence in late 2015? When were they talking? And what were they talking about?

How high up the campaign does the treason go?