Apocalypse Very Soon

Via Alexander C. Kaufman at HuffPo, we learn that the EPA has decided that we’ve all just got to sit back and fry — and like it too, dammit:

The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday evening sent employees a list of eight approved talking points on climate change from its Office of Public Affairs ― guidelines that promote a message of uncertainty about climate science and gloss over proposed cuts to key adaptation programs.

Here a couple of samples of the new guidance:

“Human activity impacts our changing climate in some manner,” one point reads. “The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact, and what to do about it, are subject to continuing debate and dialogue.”

The other states: “While there has been extensive research and a host of published reports on climate change, clear gaps remain including our understanding of the role of human activity and what we can do about it.”

It’s clear enough what Scott Pruitt’s and Donald Trump’s EPA thinks we should do about the global test-to-destruction experiment on which we are now engaged.  F**k-all.  Hades here we come.
As Eric Levitz at New York magazine reminds us, this actually isn’t the limit of GOP and Trump climate sabotage:

It would be bleak enough if these talking points were an accurate reflection of our government’s position on climate change. “We will do nothing to stop this calamity from happening, but will help you prepare for its onset” isn’t the most uplifting sentiment. But the Trump administration’s actual position on the matter is even worse.

In truth, Scott Pruitt’s EPA is about as opposed to helping communities prepare for climate catastrophe as it is to regulating carbon emissions: Last year, the EPA shut down its climate-adaptation program, and proposed funding cuts* to another initiative dedicated to studying the effects of rising sea levels. [links in the original]

Again, as Levitz points out, unchecked climate change will (and almost certainly has already) kill a lot of people. Which is to say this isn’t garden valley Republican robbery of most of us to serve the interests of our former Secretary of State and his ilk.  Reckless doesn’t begin to describe what the GOP in general and the current administration in particular are doing to the planet, and to Americans’ well being, safety and security.

The climate change debacle is not only down to the United States, of course. But nowhere else has the power that we do to shift international action on this.  We’re doing the opposite, and the FSM knows how high the bill will go.

On that note: top of the evening to the jackals. Open thread, y’all

*Most of the cuts were undone in the omni-budget bill, but if we have a minor respite from environmental despoilation, it’s not thanks to Trump and Pruitt.

Image: D. Howard Hitchcock, Halemaumau, Lake of Fire, 1888



The Gator Nation’s Long National Nightmare is Over: They Have Identified the Naked Shark Mounter

From The NY Daily News:

A freaky fish humper who got naked, straddled a dead shark and smiled for a photo is a former New York City cop, a Florida sports reporter claims.

People have been speculating on the man’s identity in recent days as the astonishing photo went viral online.

David Pingalore, the sports anchor for WKMG-TV in Orlando, said Friday he was contacted recently by a man who knows the former Finest and provided more photos of the man — clothed and not.

“This guy lives in upstate New York,” Pingalore said of the mystery man in the picture. “That photo was taken two years ago off the shores of Long Island.”

Pingalore said his source is a friend of the mystery man who while on vacation in Florida happened to be watching his newscast about the photo.

The source sent Pingalore the other photos of the cop to help disprove the theory that Florida Gators football coach Jim McElwain is the mystery man.

“The man that is naked on the shark is afraid for his life because he believes bounty hunters — I’m not making this up — and people with shark people, whatever, those people would be called.”

So New York Police Department Man!

Tweet with NSFW picture below the fold.

Open thread!

Read more



Unlimber That Gas Mask

Amidst all the attention grabbing stuff — you know, just a president accusing his predecessor of high crimes — the Trump administration proceeds with impressive consistency with moves designed to make the world worse, Americans sicker/poorer, and their inner circle enriched.

Next week, it’ll be the air-we-breathe’s turn:

The Trump administration is expected to begin rolling back stringent federal regulations on vehicle pollution that contributes to global warming, according to people familiar with the matter, essentially marking a U-turn to efforts to force the American auto industry to produce more electric cars.

The announcement — which is expected as soon as Tuesday and will be made jointly by the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, and the transportation secretary, Elaine L. Chao — will immediately start to undo one of former President Barack Obama’s most significant environmental legacies.

During the same week, and possibly on the same day, Mr. Trump is expected to direct Mr. Pruitt to begin the more lengthy and legally complex process of dismantling the Clean Power Plan, Mr. Obama’s rules to cut planet-warming pollution from coal-fired power plants.

The regulatory rollback on vehicle pollution will relax restrictions on tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide and will not require action by Congress. It will also have a major effect on the United States auto industry.

I don’t want to go all-apocalyptic on this news, in part because I want to sleep more than four hours tonight, and more because there are some secular processes underway that reduce the impact of Trump’s and Republican willingness to destroy the climate and give Americans respiratory diseases — think the long-term losing market battle coal is waging against everything else, and the advances in transportation tech that will help mitigate the license to ill being granted the domestic auto industry. (I’d note that those car companies based in countries that do impose efficiency rules will now get an advantage over the big three that could very likely hit the domestic industry hard in a decade or less…rather like the way Japanese car companies were poised to take advantage of the oil shocks of the 70s, to great wailing and gnashing of teeth in Detroit.)

But even with that rather meagre reed of hope, there’s no way to spin this as anything but craptastic news for both the global and every local environment.

Every act this administration takes; every law this congress takes is the fruit of a poisoned tree: an election manipulated by foreigners, and undermined by domestic law enforcement.  There’s no room for negotiation here.  Step one: 2018.

Image: Department of Defense. Department of the Navy. Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Gas masks for man and horse demonstrated by American soldierc. 1917-18



The Crazy Goes Back to Tax Cut Jeebus

I’ve now watched the Trump presser yesterday three times. Not because I am a masochist who enjoys inflicting as much pain as possible on himself, but because I don’t think I appreciated the full madness of it the first time. The surreality of it all just overloaded my senses and I really couldn’t take it in.

It was like the first time I went to New York City as a teenager. When I was 16, I left little old Bethany to head to upstate NY to live on a farmhouse with my friend Jason and his father Nick In Verbank, NY (east of Poughkeepsie, west of Millbrook). Jason’s parents were divorced, and his mom lived in Bethany and taught there, and he lived here and went to school here, and then in the summers we would go up there and get jobs. At any rate, I would go to the bus station in Wheeling with my big old backpack (the old kind with a frame) and a dufflebag filled with all my possessions for the summer, head up to NYC, and then I would navigate my way to the train to take me up to Poughkeepsie.

This was around 1986, and NYC was a markedly different place than it is now, and this was the first time I had ever been out on my own. I think prior to my trip to NYC, the most people I had ever seen in one place might have been a rock concert down in the old Wheeling Civic Center. To cut to the point, my senses were just overloaded the moment I got off the bus. Everything was bright, loud, moving, smelly, crazy. All I really remember is keeping my hand in my front pocket over my wallet and just trying to get to the train alive. It was chaos and just too much to take in, and it wasn’t until I had been to NYC about 4-5 times that I started to actually notice things and be able to really pay attention to what was going on, and even then I am sure I had just scratched the surface.

That’s how I felt watching the press conference yesterday, and why I had to watch it so many times to fully appreciate the crazy on display. The third time I was watching it, I was also reading the local (somewhatish) newspaper, the Charleston Gazette Mail, and came across this story:

Poor roads cost the average Charleston driver $1,357 a year in additional expenses, according to the latest TRIP report on West Virginia roads.

Statewide, deficient roads cost West Virginia drivers $1.4 billion a year for additional vehicle repair and maintenance costs, crashes where road deficiencies are a contributing factor, and lost time and fuel from traffic congestion, the report from the national transportation association concludes.

“The quality of life of state residents, visitors and businesses is significantly affected by the quality of the state’s road and bridge network,” Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director, said during a news conference Thursday to release the latest report on state roads.

In what has become something of a tradition during legislative sessions, the TRIP report outlines the costs of deficient roads and bridges on the state’s economy and quality of life. The release of the report frequently coincides with the annual West Virginians for Better Transportation rally at the Capitol, scheduled this year for Friday morning.

In past years, the call for additional funding for highway construction and maintenance has gone unheeded, but the advocates this year have an ally in Gov. Jim Justice, who wants to sell $2.8 billion in road bonds to build and upgrade West Virginia’s highways.

On Thursday, Justice administration Transportation Secretary Tom Smith called the TRIP report “alarming.”

“Roads are getting worse. Bridges are getting worse,” he said. “It really makes the point Governor Justice has asked us to make.”

In his State of the State address, Justice proposed the massive highways construction program through bond sales that would be financed through a $20 increase in the annual license plate renewal fee, a 10-cent a gallon increase in the state gasoline tax (estimated to cost average drivers about $130 a year), and a $1 increase in tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike.

Justice called the proposal the “800-pound gorilla” of his legislative agenda, saying it will create 48,000 jobs and cause an explosion in growth for the state’s tourism industry.

Smith said Thursday it is important to invest now in upgrading highways, paraphrasing Justice by saying, “The longer you wait, the behinder you get.”

Taking care of roads is the most basic of government services. It’s quite literally one of the lowest level responsibilities that the government has, but the state of West Virginia, much like the rest of the nation, can’t even fucking do that because we have gone quite literally insane. And this insanity goes back to tax cut Jeebus, our lord and savior, the deal the Republicans made with the devil years ago to keep together the racists, the godbotherers, the war hawks, the nihilists, the glibertarians, and the uninformed. From the trickled down words of Saint Ronnie of the Alzheimers, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem, government IS the problem.”

In 2012, Garry Wills wrote a splendid piece called “Our Moloch” about the deference and sacrifices we make to our blood God, the gun. I’d argue that there is a higher power, one that even “Our Moloch” serves, and that is tax cut Jeebus. That’s how we found ourselves where we are now- where even Democrats dance around the concept of raising taxes to pay for basic services and a cheeto dusted lunatic rants incoherently on national tv in front of the world and a solid portion of the Republican party says nothing and goes along with it. That’s why Republicans are so dead set on killing ACA. It’s why they want to gut social security and medicare. Tax Cut Jeebus demands it, and so it must be done



I Don’t Even Know What to Fucking Say Anymore

These fucking people:

House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz told Fox News’ “The First 100 Days” Wednesday night that he would ask the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate leaks of classified information that led to the resignation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The Utah Republican told host Martha MacCallum that “no matter where you are on the political spectrum, you cannot have classified information migrating out into a non-classified setting.”

Chaffetz’s letter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz, which was also signed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., described “serious concerns about the potential inadequate protection of classified information” and requested “that your office begin an immediate investigation into whether classified information was mishandled” in the Flynn case.

Flynn resigned Monday night after a series of media reports purportedly detailed his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. about sanctions levied against Moscow by the Obama administration. The reports indicated Flynn had given Vice President Mike Pence “incomplete information” about the calls, leading Pence to deny discussion of sanctions took place.

Earlier this week, Chaffetz sent a letter to the White House questioning security protocols at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida after the president and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed North Korea’s recent ballistic missile test in a public setting.

jesus christ



So That Happened

jesus fucking christ



So, Did I Miss Anything

I was basically offline all day doing things and out of town, so let’s recap the day:

1.) Mexico and the Fucking Wall

* Trump rolled out a 20% tariff proposal on Mexican goods to pay for the wall.

* The Mexican President told Trump to go fuck himself and cancelled a scheduled meeting.

* Trump White House is walking back the 20% tariff.

* As Anne Laurie noted, Texans are telling Trump to fuck off.

* Former Mexican President Vicente Fox continues to have all the fun in the world fucking with Cheeto Jeebus:

***

2.) Cybersecurity

* As Adam noted, Trump is controlling his online presence through an easily guessed gmail account.

* Sean Spicer is still a moron, and has two days in a row tweeted his password:

* This speaks for itself:

***

3.) General Governance:

* Basically the entire upper management of the State Department quit, choosing to retire or have other foreign service appointments rather that work the Tangelo Tyrant.

* Trump bullied the National Park Service director and called him personally to back up his claims about the size of his inauguration crowds.

* Trump and his minions have pulled all advertising about ACA signups, pulling even ads that have ALREADY been paid for and placed.

* The US has suspended all interviews with potential refugees, fucking people who may have been in the process for years.

***

That’s the big stuff- THAT WE KNOW ABOUT. Oh, yeah. The Doomsday Clock advanced but that’s almost an afterthought at this point. What is this- Day Six? A couple more weeks and I will be begging for the sweet radioactive release of nuclear armageddon.