Saturday, September 09, 2017

The Worst Thing Trump Did To America?


Let's say Trump doesn't blunder into a Depression and that the generals around Trump prevent him from starting a nuclear war. So if he is either impeached in 2019 or defeated in 2020, when people look back at the most incompetent and wasted presidency since the country was founded, what will they single out as the single-- specific-- worst thing Trump did? There are any number of appointments that could turn out to have consequences as catastrophic as many of us warned they would. But as of right now, I would be hard-pressed to argue with the idea that Scott Pruitt has been Trump's most destructive move since Putin-- purposefully-- and Clinton and her coterie-- inadvertantly-- helped him seize control of the White House.

Yesterday Pruitt was on CNN to discuss Hurricane Irma. When the obvious question came up-- about the impact of Climate Change-- Pruitt bristled and said now is not the time to talk about Climate Change. "Here's the issue-- to have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm; versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced. What we need to focus on is access to clean water, addressing these areas of superfund activities that may cause an attack on water, these issues of access to fuel... Those are things so important to citizens of Florida right now, and to discuss the cause and effect of these storms, there's the... place (and time) to do that, it's not now."

Pure coincidence that former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman penned an OpEd for the NY Times that ran while Pruitt was refusing to discuss Climate Change on CNN. Like most normal Americans, Whitman wrote that she had "been worried about how the Environmental Protection Agency would be run ever since President Trump appointed Scott Pruitt, the former attorney general of Oklahoma, to oversee it. The past few months have confirmed my fears. The agency created by a Republican president 47 years ago to protect the environment and public health may end up doing neither under Mr. Pruitt’s direction."

As a Republican appointed by President George W. Bush to run the agency, I can hardly be written off as part of the liberal resistance to the new administration. But the evidence is abundant of the dangerous political turn of an agency that is supposed to be guided by science.

The E.P.A.’s recent attack on a reporter for The Associated Press and the installation of a political appointee to ferret out grants containing “the double C-word” are only the latest manifestations of my fears, which mounted with Mr. Pruitt’s swift and legally questionable repeals of E.P.A. regulations-- actions that pose real and lasting threats to the nation’s land, air, water and public health.

All of that is bad enough. But Mr. Pruitt recently unveiled a plan that amounts to a slow-rolling catastrophe in the making: the creation of an antagonistic “red team” of dissenting scientists to challenge the conclusions reached by thousands of scientists over decades of research on climate change. It will serve only to confuse the public and sets a deeply troubling precedent for policy-making at the E.P.A.

The red-team approach makes sense in the military and in consumer and technology companies, where assumptions about enemy strategy or a competitor’s plans are rooted in unknowable human choices. But the basic physics of the climate are well understood. Burning fossil fuels emits carbon dioxide. And carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere. There is no debate about that. The link is as certain as the link between smoking and cancer.

A broad consensus of scientists also warn of the influence of the warming climate on extreme weather events. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the enormous wildfires in the Western United States and widespread flooding from monsoons in Southeast Asia are potent reminders of the cost of ignoring climate science.

As a Republican like Mr. Pruitt, I too embrace the promise of the free market and worry about the perils of overregulation. But decisions must be based on reliable science. The red team begins with his politically preferred conclusion that climate change isn’t a problem, and it will seek evidence to justify that position. That’s the opposite of how science works. True science follows the evidence. The critical tests of peer review and replication ensure that the consensus is sound. Government bases policy on those results. This applies to liberals and conservatives alike.

There are two sides, at least, to most political questions, and a politician’s impulse may be to believe that the same holds true for science. Certainly, there are disputes in science. But on the question of climate change, the divide is stark. On one side is the overwhelming consensus of thousands of scientists at universities, research centers and the government who publish in peer-reviewed literature, are cited regularly by fellow scientists and are certain that humans are contributing to climate change.

On the other side is a tiny minority of contrarians who publish very little by comparison, are rarely cited in the scientific literature and are often funded by fossil fuel interests, and whose books are published, most often, by special interest groups. That Mr. Pruitt seeks to use the power of the E.P.A. to elevate those who have already lost the argument is shameful, and the only outcome will be that the public will know less about the science of climate change than before.

The red-team idea is a waste of the government’s time, energy and resources, and a slap in the face to fiscal responsibility and responsible governance. Sending scientists on a wild-goose chase so that Mr. Pruitt, Rick Perry, the energy secretary, who has endorsed this approach, and President Trump can avoid acknowledging and acting on the reality of climate change is simply unjustifiable. And truly, it ignores and distracts from the real imperative: developing solutions that create good jobs, grow our economy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Policy should always be rooted in unbiased science. The E.P.A. is too important to treat like a reality TV show. People’s lives and our country’s resources are at stake. Mr. Pruitt should respect his duty to the agency’s mission, end the red team and call on his agency’s scientists to educate him. No doubt they’re willing and eager to impart the knowledge they’ve dedicated their lives to understanding.

If this project goes forward, it should be treated for what it is: a shameful attempt to confuse the public into accepting the false premise that there is no need to regulate fossil fuels.

Friday, the House passed the Senate bill to aid the victims of Hurricane Harvey and fund the government for another 3 months. Every Democrat present (183 of them) + 133 Republicans voted for it... so it passed 316-90. Aside from the regular "shut down the government" types like Mark Meadows, Mo Brooks and Paul Gosar, there were dozens of Republican extremists who voted NO, including Virginia Foxx (NC). Foxx's electoral challenger, progressive Democrat Jenny Marshall, told us that "Voting 'no' on hurricane relief is nothing new to Rep. Foxx. She voted 'no' to help after Katrina in 2005, Sandy in 2013 and now Harvey. Even after our own state's coastal plains were devestated by hurricane Matthew, Foxx didn't lift a finger to advocate for additional funds from the Trump administration. A bipartisan effort of North Carolina Congressional leaders requesting $929 million in additional funds was rejected by the Trump administration who gave just 6.1 million instead. Representative Foxx has shown she does not want to invest in rebuilding North Carolina or our country. Her callous votes to refuse help to our neighbors in their time of need proves her unfit to serve."

Similarly, progressive Democrat Tom Guild told us that his opponent in OK-05 was another one of the radicals who voted NO. "Representative Steve Russell (R-Choctaw) voted against the bill to keep the government open and to provide funding to help Texans who had their lives ripped to shreds by Hurricane Harvey. The bill also raised the debit limit for three months so that America can pay her debts. Russell rants about the national debt & deficits. He's a poor role model after running a YUUUGE deficit in his first congressional campaign that took him two years to retire. He is against EVER raising the debt ceiling, that allows America to pay bills ALREADY RACKED UP by Congress. He is clearly severely challenged in the area of finance. His position would destroy the full faith and credit of our country, and very likely be catastrophic to the American and world economies. His position on the debt limit shows he doesn't have the financial sense God gave a peanut. His stance would make it impossible to help Oklahomans and other Americans who have their lives upended by natural disasters. He has voted for many of the laws now on the books that grew the deficit and the national debt. Now he doesn’t want to pay up when the bills come due. So much for logical & critical thinking."

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At 4:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shakespeare wrote: "The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones [or goes out the window when they go out the office door]." Pruitt's influence will damage the planet for a long time, but I might nominate 2 others for worst.

Neil Gorsuch, whose available time to do evil could span thirty or more years while Pruitt will be gone in no more than four.

Betsy DeVos, who will make the coming generation much less fit to find the means to undo Pruitt,s and other villains' misdeeds.

I'm not optimistic.

At 7:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

4:46, you make salient points. I would add j.b. sessions to compete. he hasn't done it yet so much, but he could redouble the wholesale incarcerations and killings of blacks using our draconian federal drug laws as his justification for his own slow genocide of his most hated demographic.

Humanity has already irretrievably fucked itself and its home world and nothing an anti-Pruitt could ever do would change that. It's been too late for 40 years. And the difference between gorsuch and garland or scalia is only modest at most. devos is about equivalent to school boards in 2 out of 3 states already. Curriculum won't be further degraded. It's already cranking out the stupidest most ignorant sausages in our history.

No. I think the worst the drumpfsterfire will do is further normalize the white hate. By the time he's gone (and don't count on him NOT being re-elected -- consider the democraps' inability to animate the majority independent voters), there may well be a paramilitary volunteer brown/orange-shirted militia roving the nation rounding up brown people to drag back to mesko or dominico or somewhere'se else. And police will be killing blacks with renewed gusto and the blessings of the "WHITE!" house and doj.

At 4:23 AM, Blogger opit said...

For me, the ignorant sausages are those who accept anthropogenic global warming / climate change as a demonstrated fact ( not even close ) and an inarguable case ( which tends to happen when the kids stick their fingers in their ears and run around singing nyah-nyah-nyah ). Nor is there anything like clear linkage between storms and general change of average conditions. In fact, looking to an average changing while moaning about exceptional readings has to be one of the silliest ideas possible.
The first two directors of the East Anglia Climate Research Unit ( where Dick Mann of hockey stick fame worked ) are both derided as 'deniers' of the holy writ of CO2 driving increasing warmth. And you want to complain that the director of the environmental licensing and despoilation agency wants people to have water to drink. Go ahead and try to sell that to the public -especially the thirsty fraction. We'll soon see whose priorities are respected.


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