Notes and Comment Blog

He started with a conclusion

Jun 2nd, 2017 7:06 am | By

The Post tells us about the exhaustive and exhausting efforts to get Trump to act like a responsible adult.

Silicon Valley titans, such as Apple chief executive Tim Cook and Tesla chief executive Elon Musk, contacted the White House directly, making clear just how seriously they viewed the issue of climate change — and how important it was to them that the president not withdraw from the international pact.

European leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, used a private summit of the Group of Seven world powers to repeatedly and urgently prod Trump to stay true to the climate deal.

But of course Trump is both stupid and conceited, so he never for a second thinks that these people are more intelligent and informed than he is and therefore he should pay attention to what they tell him. He just thinks they’re losers because, you know, not American, not tv personalities, not property tycoons. He’s way too stupid to understand how stupid he is.

Trump had never liked the Paris accord. He viewed it as a “bad deal” and during the campaign had promised his base he would “cancel” the climate pact that he believed was hurting American workers.

His final, deliberative verdict was the same as his initial, gut-level one, according to this account of Trump’s decision-making process, which is based on interviews Thursday with more than a dozen administration officials, Trump confidants, Republican operatives and European diplomats. Even so, the president listened and moderated months of often heated, and at times downright contentious, discussions among his own advisers, as well as scores of outsiders.

He likes that. It’s part of the game of playing president, and in the end he gets to do what he wants and laugh at all those people who tried so hard to make him think like a grownup.

“He’s stayed where he’s always been, and not for a lack of trying by those who have an opposite opinion,” said Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president. “He started with a conclusion, and the evidence brought him to the same conclusion.”

A ringing testimonial to his obstinate stupidity and incompetence.

Ivanka Trump, meanwhile, helped lead the effort to stay in the deal. In meetings, she argued that withdrawing could hurt the United States’ global image and weaken its moral authority abroad. She and her allies pushed the case that the president would have more leverage if he remained part of the agreement and negotiated from within.

The opposing camp, however, dismissed the substance of her appeal, brushing off her concerns as a hand-wringing question: “What will the world think of us?”

Right, because that doesn’t matter at all and never has. We can get whatever we want just by demanding it and mentioning the nukes if anyone balks. It’s that simple and easy.

Some of the efforts to dissuade Trump from withdrawing actually had the reverse effect, further entrenching his original position. When Trump heard advocates arguing that the era of coal was coming to an end — something Cohn told reporters on last week’s foreign trip and also a frequent talking point by some cable news pundits — Trump only became more adamant that pulling out of the Paris pact could help rescue the U.S. coal industry, said a Republican operative in close contact with the White House.

Well there’s one thing you can say about coal. Ok it’s dirty, and it burns dirty, and it creates smog that corrodes people’s lungs and deposits layers of soot on everything, and it’s terrible for global warming, and it’s dangerous work, but – at least you can understand it. Lump of coal: fire: energy. It’s not all confusing and puzzling and invisible like nuclear energy or those weird solar panels. Energy should be simple and easy to understand at a glance. That’s a big plus for coal in our Donnie’s book.

Pressure from leaders abroad also backfired. One senior White House official characterized disappointing European allies as “a secondary benefit” of Trump’s decision to withdraw.

Naturally. They’re all smarter than he is, also politer. Naturally that makes Donnie from Queens angry. How dare any pesky European be smarter and more decent than Donnie the Boss?

When Trump touched down at a humid Sicilian air base last week, European leaders were already girding up for an argument at the G-7 summit. In Brussels, the president had just castigated NATO allies for their defense spending. But as leaders spoke during a closed-door NATO dinner, not one directly confronted him, seeking to save their political capital for a contentious discussion about climate change in Italy.

In the end, several officials said, the Group of Seven summit felt more like a Group of Six against One, at least on climate issues, as every other leader went around the table urging Trump to remain in the Paris accord.

“There is a situation where six — if you take the E.U., seven — stand against one,” Merkel said after the meeting.

Merkel, who might be the ­second-most powerful leader in the world after Trump, also pressed a moral-based argument, according to one official who was in the room. If the United States pulled out, what would be the message to countries in Africa that could suffer most from global warming and nations like Fiji that are drowning under rising sea levels?

The official added that another leader brought up political arguments: Does the United States want to preserve the U.S. lead on the topic or hand it off to China and India? And a third made an economic pitch: By encouraging renewable energy, you boost the economy, you boost innovation and you stay competitive.

But Trump seemed unmoved by any of the appeals, instead telling the group that this was what he had promised during his election campaign and that he was protecting his voters, according to the official.

On the plane back from Sicily, Merkel did little to hide her disappointment, according to someone who traveled with her. She raved about Macron and his “keen perception.” There was no such praise for Trump, of whom she could only say, “He listened for hours.”

Well obviously. She wasn’t going to be raving about Donnie’s keen perception, was she. The man is dumb as a stump.

People who made the mistake of deciding to work for Trump are also glum.

Among administration aides who wanted Trump to stay in the agreement, there was growing frustration, bordering on despondency, that they had been unsuccessful in their effort.

Many had given up high-paying jobs outside the administration, sacrificed their quality of life, and were facing daily leaks and palace intrigue stories — only to feel as if they had been unable to influence the president on an issue of top importance.

Silicon Valley executives and other CEOs were also upset. Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, where he led the firm along with Cohn, took to Twitter for the first time ever Thursday to criticize the Paris withdrawal, writing, “Today’s decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.’s leadership position in the world.”

Musk, the CEO of Tesla, who had worked closely with Kushner on several of his key initiatives, also used Twitter to announce his departure from White House advisory panels: “Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.”

Donnie don’t care. Donnie got his revenge.

A thorough repudiation of diplomacy and science

Jun 1st, 2017 5:22 pm | By

Bill McKibben is eloquent on Trump’s disgusting move.

People say, if all you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail. We should be so lucky. President Trump has a hammer, but all he’ll use it for is to smash things that others have built, as the world looks on in wonder and in fear.

That is Trump. He has nothing to offer himself. He’s an empty vessel, his only skill being to market ugly tasteless buildings. All he wants to do is smash things up and piss people off – no doubt to console himself for the fact that intelligent people, no matter how rich and selfish, will not go near him.

The latest, most troubling example is his decision to obliterate the Paris climate accord: After nearly 200 years of scientific inquiry and over 20 years of patient diplomacy that united every nation save Syria and Nicaragua, we had this afternoon’s big game-show Rose Garden reveal: Count us out.

It’s a stupid and reckless decision — our nation’s dumbest act since launching the war in Iraq. But it’s not stupid and reckless in the normal way. Instead, it amounts to a thorough repudiation of two of the civilizing forces on our planet: diplomacy and science. It undercuts our civilization’s chances of surviving global warming, but it also undercuts our civilization itself, since that civilization rests in large measure on those two forces.

Trump doesn’t do diplomacy, which requires intelligence, thought, knowledge, experience, the ability to see and understand points of view not one’s own. Trump knows nothing but brute force and insults, because he is that stupid and empty.

The reason Paris is a series of voluntary agreements and not a real treaty is because the world had long since understood that no binding document would ever get two-thirds of the vote in our oil-soaked Senate. And that’s despite the fact that the agreement asks very little of us: President Barack Obama’s mild shift away from coal-fired power and toward higher-mileage cars would have satisfied our obligations.

Those changes, and similar ones agreed to by other nations, would not have ended global warming. They were too small. But the hope of Paris was that the treaty would send such a strong signal to the world’s governments, and its capital markets, that the targets would become a floor and not a ceiling; that shaken into action by the accord, we would start moving much faster toward renewable energy, maybe even fast enough to begin catching up with the physics of global warming. There are signs that this has been happening: The plummeting price of solar energy just this spring persuaded India to forgo a huge planned expansion of coal plants in favor of more solar panel arrays to catch the sun. China is shutting coal mines as fast as it can build wind turbines.

And that’s precisely the moment President Trump chose to make his move, a bid to undercut our best hope for a workable future in a bizarre attempt to restore the past.

The past in which there were more coal mines – as if coal mines were inherently desirable and good things, source of careers as enviable as any other.

And so we will resist. As the federal government reneges on its commitments, the rest of us will double down on ours. Already cities and states are committing to 100 percent renewable energy. Atlanta was the latest to take the step. We will make sure that every leader who hesitates and waffles on climate will be seen as another Donald Trump, and we will make sure that history will judge that name with the contempt it deserves. Not just because he didn’t take climate change seriously, but also because he didn’t take civilization seriously.

I wish Kathy Griffin had waited two days.

Guest post: Because of hegemonic species essentialism

Jun 1st, 2017 5:09 pm | By

Originally a comment by Lady Mondegreen on A new frontier.

in a few years (or months?) everyone will be talking scornfully about cis-species privilege and saying “Do you believe trans-hippos are hippos, yes or no?”

Educate yourself.

“Species” is a social construct. Most people think that “species” refers to a population of organisms the males and females of which can produce fertile offspring, but this definition, aside from its biological essentialism and obvious transphobia, is WRONG. Some hybrids are fertile. Leopons, for example. You didn’t know that, did you? SCIENCE tells us that wild hybrids even occurred in ancient times. Look it up.

Also there is a little thing called Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT). And did I mention ring species?

These things are rarely mentioned in mainstream biology classes because of hegemonic species essentialism, but things are simply not as simple as the binary model wherein an individual either “belongs” (note the Western capitalistic language in which a living being is reduced to a possession) to a (single) species or doesn’t.

A very bad man

Jun 1st, 2017 4:31 pm | By

The high points of Trump’s stack of lies.

There is no such thing as a retroactive waiver

Jun 1st, 2017 1:25 pm | By

Meanwhile the criminals in the White House have, of course, been stealing everything they can get their hands on, including all traces of ethical rules.

The Trump administration may have skirted federal ethics rules by retroactively granting a blanket exemption that allows Stephen K. Bannon, the senior White House strategist, to communicate with editors at Breitbart News, where he was recently an executive.

The exemption, made public late Wednesday along with more than a dozen other ethics waivers issued by the White House, allows all White House aides to communicate with news organizations, even if they involve a “a former employer or former client.”

In other words their waivers go like this:

You may ignore all the rules, including retroactively.

No rules, just an insulting pretense of having rules.

The waiver, and the fact that it remains unclear when it was originally issued, seemed unusual to Walter M. Shaub Jr., the director of the Office of Government Ethics, who questioned its validity.

“There is no such thing as a retroactive waiver,” Mr. Shaub said in an interview. “If you need a retroactive waiver, you have violated a rule.”

But Trump is our Absolute Ruler, so he can if he wants to.

In January, President Trump signed an executive order that put in place stringent ethics rules for his political appointees like Mr. Bannon. Under the policy, Mr. Bannon would be barred from contacting Breitbart employees for two years to discuss issues that were under his purview while he was an executive there.

But Mr. Bannon continued those communications, including with Breitbart editors, after beginning his job as Mr. Trump’s chief strategist on Jan. 20, according to a complaint by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal group.

Well isn’t that just classic. Trump signs an ethical-looking EO, then proceeds to ignore it behind a veil of secrecy.

The swamp has sucked us in.

The one planet we’ve got

Jun 1st, 2017 1:03 pm | By

Obama issued a statement on Trump’s evil move.

A year and a half ago, the world came together in Paris around the first-ever global agreement to set the world on a low-carbon course and protect the world we leave to our children.

It was steady, principled American leadership on the world stage that made that achievement possible. It was bold American ambition that encouraged dozens of other nations to set their sights higher as well. And what made that leadership and ambition possible was America’s private innovation and public investment in growing industries like wind and solar – industries that created some of the fastest new streams of good-paying jobs in recent years, and contributed to the longest streak of job creation in our history.

Simply put, the private sector already chose a low-carbon future. And for the nations that committed themselves to that future, the Paris Agreement opened the floodgates for businesses, scientists, and engineers to unleash high-tech, low-carbon investment and innovation on an unprecedented scale.

The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created. I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack. But even in the absence of American leadership; even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.

A day that will live in infamy.

Solemn duty to fuck all the way off

Jun 1st, 2017 12:44 pm | By

The fucker has done it.

12:37 Pacific Time:

Trump: “In order to fulfil my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord, or an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its tax-payers.

“So we’re getting out. But we will start to negotiate and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair.

“And if we can that’s great. and if we cant that’s fine.”

There are cheers and a ripple of applause in the Rose Garden as he speaks.

He is scum.

How that generation went on to perceive itself

Jun 1st, 2017 12:20 pm | By

Jesse Singal suggests that the self-esteem craze that seized so many American brains during the 80s and 90s was just a little bit over the top.

During this span, just about everyone, from CEOs to welfare recipients, was told — often by psychologists with serious credentials — that improving their self-esteem could, as The Lovables put it, unlock the gates to more happiness, better performance, and every kind of success imaginable. This was both a personal argument and a political one: The movement, which had its epicenter in California, argued that increasing people’s self-esteem could reduce crime, teen pregnancy, and a host of other social ills — even pollution.

It would be hard to overstate the long-term impact of these claims. The self-esteem craze changed how countless organizations were run, how an entire generation — millenials — was educated, and how that generation went on to perceive itself (quite favorably). As it turned out, the central claim underlying the trend, that there’s a causal relationship between self-esteem and various positive outcomes, was almost certainly inaccurate. But that didn’t matter: For millions of people, this was just too good and satisfying a story to check, and that’s part of the reason the national focus on self-esteem never fully abated. Many people still believe that fostering a sense of self-esteem is just about the most important thing one can do, mental health–wise.

Whereas I have always thought that was a completely ridiculous idea, for the simple reason that so many people have way too much self-esteem. I remember conversations in the 90s that went like this:

Me: God X is an obnoxious self-centered asshole.

B: Oh, he has low self-esteem.

Me: What? How do you know? He’s brimming with self-esteem.

B: No, he’s not, that’s a mask over his low self-esteem.

There were no conceited overbearing people any more, there were only people with low self-esteem, masking it by acting like conceited overbearing people. I never believed that for a second, but I gave up arguing about it because it was hopeless. The dogma was well entrenched.

As it turned out, there was very little validity to the causal claims everyone was making about self-esteem in the 1980s and ’90s. We know that because around the turn of the century, long after self-esteem programs had blossomed all over North America, the psychological Establishment decided to take a more critical look at the dogma surrounding the subject. Baumeister and three other researchers were invited by the American Psychological Society to conduct a comprehensive review of the literature to find out whether self-esteem really “works” as advertised. In a 2005 article in Scientific American and a more technical paper published in Psychological Science and the Public Interest, they delivered the bad news: There was little published evidence supporting Vasconcellos’s ideas. In some areas, high self-esteem actually correlated with worse behavior — some criminals, it turns out, actually view themselves quite favorably.

In other areas, it turned out that correlation did not imply causation, just as Baumeister suspected. Take a 1986 study his team reviewed which found that “self-esteem in 10th grade is only weakly predictive of academic achievement in 12th grade,” for example. Academic achievement, on the other hand, did predict higher self-esteem. It’s more likely that successful people with high self-esteem have high self-esteem because they’re successful than vice versa.

I wonder why I never bought it when so many people did. Subjectively, I think the main reason is because I loathe self-absorption. But objectively, that doesn’t help, because don’t most people loathe self-absorption? Surely they must, for reasons to do with reciprocity if nothing else.

Now, the self-esteem movement may not have fulfilled its goal of helping ameliorate every social problem under the sun, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t have an effect. Not surprisingly, the clearest evidence comes from the most malleable Americans who were exposed to self-esteem: kids. While the heightened focus on self-esteem may not have made the children of the 1980s and 1990s smarter or more successful or better students, it did likely have a long-term impact on them, according to Jean Twenge, a psychologist at San Diego State University and the author of Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled — and More Miserable Than Ever Before. “The self-esteem movement is at least one factor in explaining why millennials have higher self-esteem, are more likely to see themselves as above average, and in general have more positive self-views than previous generations did at the same age,” she said. “I also think it may explain why they score higher in measures of narcissistic personality traits.”

Exactly so, and that’s why their version of progressive politics is so fucked up.

One interesting way of tracking the growth of the self-esteem craze is by examining the language that blossomed around it. Take, for example, research Twenge and others have conducted on the frequency of certain feel-good sentences phrases in English-language literature — sentences like Believe in yourself and anything is possible, and You have to love yourself first before you can love someone else. “Those phrases are taken for granted as advice we give teens and adults,” explained Twenge, “but they’re very modern. At least in written language, they were very uncommon before about 1980, and then became much more popular. They’re all very individualistic, they’re all very self-focused, they’re also all delusional. ‘Believe in yourself and anything is possible’? Nope, it’s just not true.”

And the second one is equally delusional and it’s repulsive. Apart from clinically depressed people, we can all be trusted to love ourselves first, because that’s natural; what needs emphasizing and repeating is that we need to look past our precious selves.

A new frontier

Jun 1st, 2017 6:19 am | By

Now here’s the way to do a hoax. If it is a hoax. It’s impossible to tell. It’s about identifying as a hippo.

This article explores the formation of a tranimal, hippopotamus alter-ego. Confronting transgender with transpecies, the author claims that his hippopotamus “identity” allowed him to (verbally) escape, all at once, several sets of categorization that govern human bodies (“gender,” “sexuality,” age). He starts with an account of how his metaphorical hippo-self is collectively produced and performed, distinguishing the subjective, the intersubjective and the social. The article then investigates the politics of equating transgender and transpecies, critically examining the question of the inclusion of “xenogenders” in the trans political movement.

This could go either way. It could be another “how dare you say that!” open letter outrage calls for retraction thing, or it could be the new dogma which it’s crime and outrage to dispute.

It started as a joke.

Such an “identity” allowed me to (verbally) escape, all at once, several sets of categorization that govern human bodies (“gender,” “sexuality,” age) through the supposedly sarcastic metaphor of transanimality. Now that I’m growing a bit tired of answering any kind of “identity” investigation, I no longer find those detours witty or funny. However, I do strongly love when my friends call me “hippo,” refer to my “paws” and pretend that they see no difference between me and one of my stuffed hippopotamuses, except that I’m a little bigger than most of them. In a surprising, sometimes overwhelming way I find comfort in this collectively performed animal identity. Let me put it this way: something about being a hippo makes me feel cute, confident, sexy, and safe. I discovered that another self was available for me: being a hippo means that I don’t have to be a boy or a girl, a child or an adult, normal or strange. It means that my smile becomes a hippo smile, and the way that I carry my body, a hippo walk. It brings me freedom, space, and a thrilling sense of possibility.

I don’t know. If the identity were a giraffe there would be a thrilling sense of tallness. If it were a bird, a thrilling sense of flying (unless penguin, emu etc). If it were an elephant, all the things one can do with a trunk. But a hippo? I’m not seeing the thrilling possibilities.

When my becoming transgender had sort of closed something for me in terms of identity/identification, becoming a hippo brought me back to an open field with an open sky. Unlike the somewhat checkered, locked-down, and policed space of transgender, the space of transpecies remained open, as it is not scripted.

Um. Isn’t this getting a little transphobic here? Or is that ok when it’s a trans person being even more trans? Is that how this works? So that in a few years (or months?) everyone will be talking scornfully about cis-species privilege and saying “Do you believe trans-hippos are hippos, yes or no?”? Is plain old vanilla trans gender already stale?

Transpecies can be temporarily defined as any literal, figural, metaphorical and/or material migration from a species to another species. Transpecies is concrete, and/or imaginary. Transpecies emphasizes the fluidity and indeterminacy of the process of becoming. It reveals the contingency and reconfigurability of identification and/or embodiment, as the possible hybridizations between human and non-human are infinite. It challenges the idea that there is such a thing as a fully, unproblematically human body. It reminds us that the norms associated with the category of human have precluded numerous potentialities in terms of embodiment and imaginaries, prohibiting bodies, closing worlds. “Transgender,” however, has become territorialized, to use the Deleuzian lexicon; or more precisely it has been an important category in the process that territorialized gender deviance, a process critically and meticulously documented by David Valentine. Because I naturally love bodies of water, I will use a water-based comparison: if “transpecies” is a large lake, wild, spectacular, inhabited, possibly dangerous, mysteriously opaque, and painfully beautiful because it is unfathomable, “transgender” would be a swimming pool structured by defined lanes, organized around and by a purpose, empty of magic, busy but lifeless, functional, but not accessible.

Ouch. I guess that answers that question – transgender is so yesterday.

It seems that “transgender” as a category is to gender deviance what the engineering view described above is to the depths of a river. In other words, “transgender” is operating as a normative device, leaving a burning need for creative diversions of hegemonic gender norms that would not be swallowed and recreated by the matrix of gender itself – one of the multi-faced, insidious, truly sly apparatuses of power that the human species is responsible for.

Now see I thought hegemonic gender norms were supposed to be entirely the fault of radical feminists – you know, the people who have been resisting hegemonic gender norms for decades – but here it turns out it was “transgender” all along. Unless of course this is the next thing. Or a hoax.

I suggest that my hippo-self is my chosen way to be trans instead of being transgender. But is it too simplistic – maybe too optimistic – to oppose the category of transgender as institutionalized, norm-producing, territorialized on the one hand, and on the other the norm-free, uncharted, and possibility-producing space of transpecies? How does my becoming-hippo relate to transgender, and how does it relate to transpecies? What can it tell us about the relationship between transgender and transpecies, and about the subject’s agency in the constitution of its identity/reality?

What indeed.

Chopping the EPA

May 31st, 2017 5:45 pm | By

The Trump people undermining the science people in the government:

When the city of Toledo temporarily lost access to clean drinking water several years ago after a bloom of toxic algae, the Environmental Protection Agency sent scientists from its Office of Research and Development to study health effects and formulate solutions.

The same office was on the front lines of the Flint water crisis and was a critical presence in handling medical waste from the U.S. Ebola cases in 2014.

Thomas Burke, who directed ORD during the last two years of the Obama administration and was the agency’s science adviser, calls the office the nation’s “scientific backstop in emergencies.”

That seems like something we need, right?

Not to Donnie from Queens it doesn’t. Donnie understands selling shit for more than it’s worth, and nothing else.

President Trump’s 2018 budget would slash ORD’s funding in half as part of an overall goal to cut the EPA’s budget by 31 percent.

A statement from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt did not directly address the cuts to ORD, but offered broad defense of the proposed agency budget, saying it “respects the American taxpayer” and “supports EPA’s highest priorities with federal funding for priority work in infrastructure, air and water quality, and ensuring the safety of chemicals in the marketplace.”

That’s very sweet and charming but they need the science to underpin all that.

ORD has no regulatory authority, but it conducts the bulk of the research that underlies EPA policies. ORD scientists are involved in “virtually every major environmental challenge the nation has,” Burke said. Diminishing the role and input of the office, he said, risked leaving the country “uninformed about risks and public health.”

Let’s not do that.

Trump’s budget, released Tuesday, reflects the president’s wish list. The numbers likely will change by the time it goes through the congressional appropriations process, but the proposed cuts are consistent with the administration’s push against environmental regulation and scientific funding. Many of the cuts fall on agencies involved with climate change research, including the EPA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.

Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, told reporters in a Tuesday briefing that the budget reduces climate science funding without eliminating it.

“Do we target it? Sure,” Mulvaney said in response to a reporter’s question. “Do a lot of the EPA reductions aim at reducing the focus on climate science? Yes. Does it mean that we are anti-science? Absolutely not. We’re simply trying to get things back in order to where we can look at the folks who pay the taxes, and say, look, yeah, we want to do some climate science, but we’re not going to do some of the crazy stuff the previous administration did.”

They want to do some climate science, just not too much.

Christine Todd Whitman, a former EPA administrator who worked for George W. Bush from 2001 to June 2003, said the proposed ORD cuts are more drastic than anything she can remember.

Whitman said she expects Congress will restore much of the funding, but she worries about the message behind the budget.

“A budget to me was always a policy document,” she said. Regardless of what Congress does, this administration’s policy “indicates to me [that] they’ll be looking for other ways to … stifle the research and slow it down,” she said.

Because that’s who they are.

Now you’ve done it

May 31st, 2017 5:02 pm | By

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May 31st, 2017 4:49 pm | By

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He doesn’t want the noise to disturb his horses

May 31st, 2017 3:48 pm | By

Thanks to Your name’s not Bruce for this:

ExxonMobil CEO Doesn’t Want a Fracking Operation Near His Backyard

That was February 2014, so the Exxon CEO was Rex Tillerson, now pretending to be “Secretary of State.”

one of the opponents of a fracking project in Denton County is Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil—a company that proudly touts fracking as an essential part of American energy development. As reports:

Rex Tillerson  has joined a lawsuit to stop construction of a water tower near his estate on Dove Creek Road. That water would be used in fracking, a process to drill oil and gas.

Tillerson even appeared at a Bartonville Town Council meeting to speak against it last November, saying that he and his wife moved to the area for its rural lifestyle. Tillerson told the Council that he had invested millions of dollars into their property to turn it into a cutting horse facility.

To be clear, Tillerson’s stated reasons for the suit that would prevent the fracking water tower from being built aren’t environmental, but cultural: He doesn’t want the noise, traffic, or heavy trucks to disturb his horses or lower his property values.

No doubt. Similarly, Trump builds sea walls next to his coastal golf courses because he doesn’t want the rise in sea level to flood his golf courses or lower his property values. But everyone else? Oh well fuck them, they’re all losers.

At the very least, the sort of NIMBYism involved in the CEO of a company that practices fracking and touts its benefits suing to prevent it from happening near his own house isn’t a good look. Tillerson may enjoy his rural lifestyle, but so do many of the people who live near the sites where his company practices hydraulic fracturing; he may value the quiet life he lives out in Bartonville, but there are a lot of people whose quiet lives have been disturbed by projects funded by Exxon.

Yes but they’re looooooooooooooooooosers. This is dog eat dog America.

More methane please

May 31st, 2017 11:32 am | By

And the last one: EPA halts Obama-era rule on methane pollution.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has halted an Obama administration rule to cut down on pollution of methane, a greenhouse gas produced at oil and natural gas drilling wells.

The EPA on Wednesday said it had issued a 90-day stay of agency rules designed to limit methane leaks at drilling sites, as well as rules setting standards for equipment and employee certification.

President Trump ordered the EPA to reconsider the methane standards in March when he signed an executive order to repeal several Obama administration climate regulations.

Let’s just go ahead and trash the climate. What difference does climate make anyway? If you don’t like the one you live in, just move to somewhere else!

The decision to roll back its methane standards comes as Canada begins the process of tightening its standards. Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced their methane reduction strategies together in 2016.

Environmental groups have said they will sue over the decision to reconsider the methane rules. In a Wednesday statement, the Natural Resources Defense Council said the Trump administration is “giving its friends in the oil and gas industry a free pass to continue polluting our air.”

Oh stop whining. We can always wear gas masks.

More mercury and arsenic in the water please

May 31st, 2017 11:16 am | By

The second top story under “trump administration epa” – Rule to limit mercury and arsenic in waterways is delayed by the EPA.

Naturally. Let’s not be hasty about keeping mercury and arsenic out of waterways…in fact let’s not do it at all. People can always drink bottled water.

The Environmental Protection Agency would like to delay an Obama-era rule that limits the amount of toxins power plant operators can dump into waterways, the agency announced late last week.

In a new rule, expected to be published this week in the Federal Register, the agency has proposed delaying the compliance dates of the 2015 Steam Electric Power Generating Effluent Guidelines until the EPA reviews them.

Environmental groups characterized the EPA’s decision to delay implementation of the rule as in line with the Trump administration’s attempt to conduct a broad rollback of regulations designed to protect public health. The Obama administration estimated that the 2015 rule would keep 1.4 billion pounds of toxic metals and other pollutants out of waterways each year.

Who is most likely to be poisoned by this move? The people Trump claims to love and want to help, that’s who. The people who don’t live in leafy suburbs with good water treatment systems.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the proposed delay, if finalized, will give the administration time to “carefully consider the next steps for this regulation.” He also touted the decision as one of nearly two dozen “regulatory reform” actions that he has taken during his brief tenure as EPA administrator. The decision is designed “to protect the environment, jobs and affordable, reliable energy,” he said in a May 25 statement.

Then he lied, since the decision is obviously designed not to protect the environment.

These people are like evil villains out of fairy tales.

In an earlier press release announcing his decision to reconsider the final rule, Pruitt said “some of our nation’s largest job producers have objected to this rule, saying the requirements set by the Obama administration are not economically or technologically feasible within the proscribed [sic] timeframe.”

“Job producers” is of course Republican code for corporations and shareholders. They produce as few jobs as they possibly can, because jobs cost them money.

The protections targeted steam electric power plants — which often run on coal— that dump large amounts of toxic pollutants into streams every year.

Electric plants dump 64,400 pounds of lead, 2,820 pounds of mercury, 79,200 pounds of arsenic, and 1,970,000 pounds of aluminum into the country’s waterways every year. Some of these pollutants, including arsenic, are known carcinogens, while others, such as lead, have been linked to developmental and reproductive problems. This pollution has also been linked to fish die-offs, the EPA explained in 2015.

Nobody wants to eat fish anyway. Just get a Big Mac.

We respectfully request raw sewage in Puget Sound

May 31st, 2017 10:58 am | By

Al Franken was on Fresh Air yesterday, and he said one thing that ratcheted up my dismay level one more notch.

GROSS: Things are so divided now in America and in government, in the Senate, in the House, do you feel like it’s possible now for you to have friendly relations with people in the government who are, you know, like, 180 degrees away from you on politics, on science, on climate change?

FRANKEN: Oh, man. There is stuff going on in the EPA right now on science where they’re just getting rid of the scientific boards that oversee the science, and it’s really awful. It’s really – this administration does not believe in science, it seems. And they’re getting, you know, people from industry. And they think there’s too much regulation. And they have – we have someone who is – Meredith’s (ph) a professor from the University of Minnesota, who I just talked to yesterday, who sort of oversees all these scientific boards.

And she is really alarmed. This is very, very bad. It’s hard for me to have very good relations with people who are doing that.

It drives me nuts.

Here’s a little experiment for you: Google “Trump administration epa” and see what comes up.

Under Top Stories right now I get

EPA halts Obama-era rule on methane pollution

President’s EPA counsel calls meeting over boat discharge in Puget Sound

Rule to limit mercury and arsenic in waterways is delayed by EPA

Those are all dated today.

The middle one could be benign, but of course it isn’t. This president’s counsel calls a meeting to talk about not preventing boat discharge in Puget Sound. More raw sewage for the Sound! Shut up and stop complaining!

The Washington Department of Ecology is near the end of an effort to ban boats from discharging raw and partially treated sewage into Puget Sound. Except, the waters may soon muddy.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s senior counsel called a meeting with Ecology Director Maia Bellon Wednesday morning.

“I typically work with the Seattle office of the Environmental PA to talk about these issues. I’m a ‘glass is half full person.’ I’m going to look at it as an opportunity to talk about Washingtonians want the Puget Sound to be treated with the utmost of respect,” Bellon said.

The Regional EPA director has already approved the designation of a “No Discharge Zone.” The process is still awaiting a public comment period, and boats will get five years to comply. Still, Bellon was confident the NDZ would become a reality.

Not so fast! What about all those cruise ships that might want to save money by dumping all that sewage? Won’t somebody think of the shareholders?

President Donald Trump’s EPA counsel is reacting to a petition from Washington maritime stakeholders. They’re critical of the NDZ designation, arguing it will be too costly for maritime business and doesn’t do much to stop pollution. It will require some boats spend $175,000 in upgrades for storage tanks.

The petition reads: “We respectfully request that EPA rescind the February 21 determination to allow for a thorough review of Ecology’s petition by you and your staff. The final determination was hastily promulgated and disregarded legitimate stakeholder concerns in favor of an expedited review designed primarily to avoid scrutiny by the Trump Administration. We respectfully request that you publish in the Federal Register a notice rescinding EPA’s February 21 determination and provide direct notice to the Washington Department of Ecology to cease any NDZ rulemaking pending EPA’s reconsideration. Thank you for your attention to this matter.”

Will they comply? Of course they will. The “stakeholders” always come first.

“I think it’s unprecedented. I’ve not heard of any No Discharge Zone petitions across the United States in 26 states we’ve looked at this,” Bellon said.

Bellon says her office has taken extra time to work with stakeholders, and believes if the Trump administration reverses the regional EPA ruling, it would be illegal.

“We have a lot of swimming beaches where our families and our kids swim and recreate,” she said. “We fish out of the Puget Sound. We collect shellfish out of the Puget Sound. So, having those human pathogens or bacteria are problematic, and we should be eliminating those sources of pollution.”

Any bets?

Think of the children

May 31st, 2017 10:01 am | By

Then there’s this one.

In case you don’t yet know what Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of, it’s a video in which she holds up a facsimile severed head of Trump, streaming blood (as severed heads don’t, so that part is weird).

It’s a crap thing to do, I agree with him on that much. I don’t want Trump doing it to the people he hates, so we can’t do it to the people we hate.

But. Trump’s pious invocation of his children is disgusting. What about all the children of all the people he has mocked and insulted and degraded over the past several decades? Has he ever considered their feelings for one instant? Of course not. For that matter, did he consider Barron’s feelings when he decided to try to be president? It doesn’t look as if he did, does it.

Meanwhile…Judith and Holofernes:

Cristofano Allori, Judith and the Head of Holofernes, 1613

Constant negative press qsrrtnf

May 31st, 2017 9:44 am | By

Last night just after midnight his time Trump had a brainfart on Twitter.

“Despite the constant negative press covfefe,” the tweet began, at 12:06 a.m., from @realDonaldTrump, the irrepressible internal monologue of his presidency.

And that was that.


Time passed. The tweet stayed, and the world wondered.

Perhaps, some worried aloud, Mr. Trump had experienced a medical episode a quarter of the way through his 140 characters.

No one at the White House could immediately be reached for comment.

By 1 a.m., the debate had effectively consumed Twitter — or at least a certain segment of insomniac Beltway types, often journalists and political operatives — ascending the list of trending topics.

Oh come on – there are 24 time zones. On the other side of the Atlantic it was 6 a.m., and farther east it was later. On the west coast it was only 10 p.m.

Merriam-Webster tweeted.

In the end the tweet was deleted, and Trump pretended the joke was on everyone but him.

More forced pregnancy

May 31st, 2017 9:30 am | By

The ACLU tells us

The Trump administration is reportedly planning to issue regulations that would allow any employer to deny any employee insurance coverage for contraception based on the employer’s religious beliefs.

Your boss’s religious beliefs shouldn’t be allowed to [affect] your compensation package. Yet here we are.

This is nothing more than an attempt to sanction discrimination against women in the name of religion. If the Trump administration follows through on these plans, we’ll see them in court.

Does Trump actually give a flying fuck about “religious liberty”? Of course not. He does hate women, though, so it makes him happy to be able to take away their rights.

Ceci n’est pas un Premier Gentilhomme

May 30th, 2017 4:55 pm | By

From the Annals of Petty Shit:

The White House on Saturday published a photograph of First Lady Melania Trump flanked by Queen Mathilde of Belgium and other spouses of NATO leaders at the Royal Castle of Laeken in Brussels—and conspicuously left out the name of the the First Gentleman of Luxembourg. Gauthier Destenay, an architect, married Prime Minister Xavier Bettel two years ago, making Bettel the first European Union head of government to marry a same-sex partner. Photographs of Destenay chatting and shopping with other NATO spouses went viral after the Thursday meeting.

Image may contain: 10 people, people smiling, people standing and wedding

The source was Facebook so I had a look and found that they’ve updated it to include Destenay, but why not do that in the first place? Because petty shit.