usa – “let’s abandon leadership, go backwards”

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A quick summary of responses to Trump abandoning the Paris Climate Agreement.

Corporate Support for the Paris Climate Agreement

A few companies that support the Paris accords

Ford, GM, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Walmart, Amazon, ExxonMobile, and ConocoPhillips.

Some corporations and CEOs that not only support the Paris agreement but publicly disagree with Trump’s decision

Jeff Immelt, CEO GE, Ben van Beurden, CEO Royal Dutch Shell, David MacLennan, CEO Cargill, Jamie Dimon, CEO JPMorgan Chase, Lloyd Blankfein, CEO Goldman Sachs, Tim Cook, CEO Apple, Mark Zuckerberg CEO Facebook, Mark Benioff, CEO Salesforce, Sundar Pichai, GEO Google, Elon Musk, Tesla, SpaceX – Resigned from White House business advisory council in protest, Bob Iger, Walt Disney – Resigned from White House business advisory council in protest

HP, DuPont, Nike, UnileverAdobe, Intel, Levi, Mars – all signed a letter urging Trump to stay with the Paris agreement

Coal companies that asked Trump to stay with Paris agreement
Cloud Peak Energy and Peabody Energy

Calculate how much of the U.S. economy is represented in the list above. It’s safe to say that these are people who make pragmatic decisions.

Economic Impact of Pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement

Fastest growing occupations: #1 is wind turbine technician, #29 solar photovoltaic installers. Why are we not prioritizing clean energy jobs instead of fossil fuels?

“1.1 million Americans work in electric-power generation through traditional fossil fuels, but renewables follow closely with 880,000 employees.” And guess which one is growing? There are more jobs in solar power than in the coal industry.

“The decision means the U.S. will miss out on some the $1.4 trillion global business opportunity that the global low-carbon economy represents.”

Despite this, Trump has decided to let China and Europe take the lead in clean energy development and leave the U.S. behind in a growing industry.

Trump Continues to Spew Lies on the Topic (no surprise)

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/donald-trump-climate-accord-fact-check

Meanwhile in the Reality-Based Universe

Every year it gets harder for denialists to find cover. You have to believe that every major climate science organization across the globe, and almost all climate scientists worldwide, are in error or engaged in a huge conspiracy to cover up the truth. There is no factual support for denialism, just an occasional op-ed in the Wall Street Journal from someone outside the field, or posts by some energy industry funded propaganda outfit. That’s pretty thin gruel. 

Oh, and you must believe that, along with U.S. corporations and science community, the 197 signing governments and 147 ratifiers of the Paris Climate Agreement are all deluded, too. Syria didn’t sign (in the middle of a war) and Nicaragua (thought it was too weak) and now the U.S. (Trump).

Incidental info: The oceans are warming, we hit temperature records each year, wildlife is moving north, etc. etc.   https://climate.nasa.gov/  

It’s encouraging that individual companies, states, and cities in the U.S. are vowing to continue with climate change mitigation. Let’s act like there’s a civilization on earth. Let’s look ahead and plan.

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the dumb creepy uncle who became president

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So Trump is in the middle of an investigation of his administration’s ties to the Russian government and potential collusion with Russians to win the election. This is what he does:

Meets Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in the White House, and does not invite the US press, but allows Russia’s TASS news agency in. Thanks to photos published by TASS, we know that Russian Ambassador Kislyak was there (the one with whom the now fired National Security Advisor Michael Flynn discussed the upcoming election).

  • Trump reveals highly classified information to the Russians during this meeting.
  • Also during the meeting, he tells Russians that he got rid of that “nut job” FBI Director James Comey. Trump tells them he was under “great pressure” because of Comey and the Russian thing.

That’s right. He fired the man leading the FBI investigation of the Trump/Russia connection. The White House said it was because of a memo describing Comey’s poor handling of the Clinton email investigation. 🙂  Then Trump said he was going to fire him anyway because “this Russia thing” is a made-up story.

How many times do we have to be hit over the head with the reality that Trump is as incompetent as he seemed to be all along? Even if he has no sinister ties with Russia, it will be hard to believe it after this. It’s only May and he already looks like someone who got his foot stuck in a bucket, and he’s clomping around the house, running into things, with a fallen curtain over his head. 

If only he was a Russian oligarch himself, he could order the murder of his enemies, consolidate his power, and shut down the press. He could freely indulge in his genital-grabbing predilections. I don’t think he can get away with any of that here. I’m an optimist.

our republican president – our terrible mess

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In case for some reason I want to look back on this amazing moment in history, I’ve compiled some of the consequences of electing an incompetent president. Here are a few examples of the mess:

Refugee and immigration ban – doomed to failure

The executive order barred entry to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries (newly arriving immigrants and refugees from these countries would be deported), detained and interrogated green card holders from those countries, suspended the U.S. refugee admission program, and revoked 60,000 visas.  That was the idea, anyway. Details of how to carry out the order and exactly who it applied to were unclear. 

The vague executive order created immediate chaos at airports around the country as travelers, immigration attorneys, airlines, and customs workers tried to understand it. Legal U.S. residents were detained. Returning students were blocked. People who risked their lives for the U.S. in Iraq and were promised resettlement here were barred from the country. Ironically, people from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia (home of the 9/11 terrorists) were untouched by the ruling.

The poorly written and conceived order was easily subject to legal challenges. A federal judge in New York immediately ordered a stay on deportations of people with valid visas. Another federal judge placed a temporary stay on the travel ban. A 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel unanimously ruled against reinstating the ban. 

The Michael Flynn debacle

Let’s start with chronological list of events.

  1. On 12/29/16, the U.S. put sanctions on Russia for interfering with the U.S. election, and expelled diplomats.
  2. The next day, Flynn (Trump’s pick for National Security Advisor) called Russian ambassador Kislyak and discussed the sanctions, possibly undermining Obama, who was still in office. (Private citizens cannot negotiate on behalf of the U.S. The secret discussions also opened Flynn to potential blackmail by Russians.)
  3. That same day, Putin announced that Russia would take no action in retaliation to the expulsion, which is unprecedented. Almost immediately afterward, Trump sent out a Tweet:  “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!”
  4. Flynn denies (to press spokesman Sean Spicer and Vice President Pence) that he discussed the sanctions.
  5. 1/20/17. Flynn becomes National Security Advisor.
  6. The FBI has recordings of Flynn’s phone calls and knows he’s been lying. The Trump team is informed. Flynn is allowed to continue to attend security briefings anyway. 
  7. After a Washington Post report, Flynn acknowledged that he had “inadvertently briefed the vice president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador.”
  8. Flynn is out, setting the record for the shortest tenure of a National Security Advisor.

Interesting details – Why are FBI and NSA listening in on these conversations? Since 1981, the FBI and NSA have had authority to monitor the calls and emails of foreign officials within the U.S. and have been doing so. Flynn should have known his conversation would likely be recorded. Kislyak certainly knew.

Per regulations, if the conversations had been innocent and routine, Flynn’s part of the conversation would have been deleted. However, something that was said in the call flagged an intelligence analyst to move it up to the next level of analysis. And the next level. And then it went to James Comey, FBI Director, and his deputy, who had to decide if the communication needed more investigation, and they thought that it did.

In other words, the recording of calls was routine, but there are specific requirements – hurdles to be jumped – before something is considered serious enough for the kind of attention Flynn got. We the public need to know more about what he said, and whether Trump knew and approved.

Source: http://www.newsweek.com/why-flynn-russia-affair-troubling-trump-559132

Outpouring of Lies

As with before the election, the President has spewed lies in a quantity not seen in any U.S. president in my lifetime and probably for many decades before that. Examples:

“I guess it was the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan.”
It was the 46th biggest win out of 58 elections.

“In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”
There is no evidence to back up this claim.

“The murder rate in the United States is the largest that it’s been in 45 years.”
Highest rate was in 1980, the lowest was in 2014, and it’s still extremely low.

“Here in Philadelphia murder has been steady — I mean — just terribly increasing.”
Last year Philadelphia’s murder rate was the third lowest in the last 26 years.

“If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?”
Obama publicly denounced Russia for trying to influence the election on 10/7/2016, well before the election. 

Referring to a TV network that reported that 250,000 people attended Trump’s inauguration: “That’s not bad, but it’s a lie…there were people all the way back to the Washington Monument…So we caught them. And we caught them in a beauty. And I think they’re going to pay a big price.’’
Aerial photos clearly show there were not people going back the Monument (as they were at Obama’s inaugural) and judging by bus usage, the 250,000 number is close to the truth.

“I’m a very big person when it comes to the environment. I have received awards on the environment.”
One of his golf courses got a “green” award for landscaping that included a nature trail. If there are more, no one has found them.

Took credit for Ford’s decision not to open a new auto plant in Mexico.
Ford says they did it for business reasons, not for Trump.

Trump claimed that two people were fatally shot in Chicago during Obama’s last speech as president.
Nope.

Is there any reason to believe anything this president says, when he lies on an almost daily basis? Is this good for the country? Is he a good role model? If these are mistakes instead of lies, then he’s grossly incompetent. 

Murky Ties to Russia

Putin’s Russia tried to influence the U.S. election in favor of Trump by selective leaks of hacked data. Confirmed by multiple U.S. intelligence agencies.

Trump has been highly complimentary of Putin, who is likely responsible for the murder of many journalists and political opponents, has used the presidency to enrich himself, keep himself in power, quash opposition, and start wars of conquest. In Putin’s defense, Trump said, “Well, I think that our country does plenty of killing, too.” 

One-time Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort  has ties to pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine. He worked for Ukraine’s pro-Putin former president.

Trump held the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Russia and personally invited Putin. He has also been trying to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Trump’s former campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page advised Russian gas company,  Gazprom.

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn attended a gala for state media network RT with Putin, and later lost his job for talking to the Russian ambassador about U.S sanctions and then lying about it.

This month the New York Times reported about three men pushing for a back-channel peace deal between Russia and Ukraine. The men do not represent the U.S. government. Two of them are Trump business associate Felix Sater and Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen (who founded an ethanol business in the Ukraine). 

Donald Trump Jr., said at a real estate conference in 2008, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.” 

Is there anything sinister or suspect about all these Russia ties? It would help to know how big Trump’s financial ties to Russia are, but he refuses to release his tax records, even after the election. Why? Also, how much of that 35-page dossier on Trump allegedly compiled by the Russian government is true? Citizens deserve clarity on these issues.

Draining the Swamp?

A few of Trump’s cabinet members and a strategist:

Rex Tillerson – Secretary of State. Former president and CEO of ExxonMobile, where he worked for over 40 years. Where is his experience as a diplomat, vs. a business deal maker? Made large business deal in 2011 with the Russian oil company Rosneft. Received the Order of Friendship from the Russian government in 2012. Under Tillerson, ExxonMobile paid a lobbying group almost $200,000 to oppose economic sanctions on Russia. Conflicts of interest?

Steven Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary. First hedge fund manager to run the treasury. Formerly of Goldman Sachs and CEO of OneWest Bank. He is known as the “Foreclosure King,” based on OneWest’s practice of buying distressed mortgages during the financial crisis and evicting thousands of homeowners. He helped create the swamp.

Scott Pruitt, EPA. Classic fox-guarding the henhouse situation. As Oklahoma Attorney General, he sued the EPA 14 times, including opposition to limits on environmental mercury, and anything that would fight global warming. He sent letters to the Interior Department and EPA that were written by energy lobbyists — simply putting his name at the bottom and using government stationery — indicating that he’s a puppet for industry, not a representative of voters. 

Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist. A founder and former CEO of Breitbart News. Under Bannon, Breitbart published lies about Obama being a Muslim and being born in Kenya; lies about the “Pizzagate” child sex ring; lies about Hillary Clinton health issues; and lies about a mob of migrants setting fire to a church in Germany. Chief Strategist and Liar?

Danger Man

Our Republican president seems terribly unstable. He throws around insults with abandon in off-the-wall rants. Anything he doesn’t agree with is “fake news.” He continually talks about how great he is. Hangs up on the Australian prime minister. Privately brags about assaulting women. Sends angry Tweets about a department store. He acts like a spoiled, vindictive child.

Consider this – the actions of the worst president in recent history (Republican George W. Bush) left hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children dead and injured. The useless invasion of Iraq is one of the biggest and most horrendous blunders in American history. Yet Bush’s personality isn’t nearly as unhinged as Trump’s. Should we expect even worse from the new president?

Trump’s command of the military and the nuclear codes could cause utter devastation. A childish bully is the wrong man to hold this power. There is no predicting what he might do. Surely the leaders of ISIS see that provoking the man could cause an overreaction that would bring them plenty of recruits. Trump may also come to see war as a way to rally people around him. 

into a trumpian rabbit hole

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It’s another rabbit hole post. Last time we fell deep into a new age swamp. This time we stick a foot into alt-right ideology. It’s an eerie world where up is down and white is black. It’s a place where evil doctors rip babies out of wombs at nine months, and sinister rapists and terrorists sneak across the border from Mexico by the truckload. It’s a place where the major news media meet and conspire in a dark room, deciding to sink the Trump candidacy through the dastardly tactic of reporting on what he actually says every day.

Into the hole

Our first step down into the rabbit hole involves claims of election rigging. Trump and company claim that thousands of people will cast votes in place of dead men who are still on the registration rolls. They also say that gangs of illegal aliens will be brought in for the express purpose of unauthorized voting.

They kind of gloss over the fact that this type of voting fraud is incredibly rare. In this alternate world, if Trump loses it’s due to fraud. Period. “I’ll accept the results … if I win,” says Trump, sounding like a despot.

I have a friend who’s confident that solid evidence of large-scale election rigging will appear. He just has a feeling about it, I guess. Just believes it, even though it hasn’t happened yet, because that’s the narrative demanded by ideology. If necessary, the alt-right press will come up with unverified examples of voter fraud it in order to shore up the fantasy.

While some lonely person with a gun stands at the southern border, looking for trucks loaded with voters, we’ll descend farther into the hole.

Another step down the ladder

Remember when the U.S. presidential election came down to just a few hundred votes back in 2000? That’s when the Supreme Court stepped in, stopped the recount process, and gave the presidency to Bush in a 5-4 vote. Hillary Clinton pointed to problems in that election at the time, but she didn’t challenge Bush’s status as president.

Down in the rabbit hole, Clinton’s protests about how that election went down are alleged to be equivalent to Trump stating in advance that the vote will be rigged, he won’t accept it, and he’ll file lawsuits, but only if he loses. It’s a desperate exercise in false equivalency. In whose dreamland are these behaviors even close to the same? (Answer: Hannity’s. Breitbart’s).

A side trip to the dubious

The mythology of the alt-right universe includes the belief that Hillary Clinton has Parkinson’s disease or some kind of seizure disorder. Miraculously, throughout her tenure as Secretary of State, her months of who-knows-how-many campaign appearances and flying all over the nation, and her three televised debates, only a few alt-right wing-nuts and their TV doctor experts were able to determine “the truth” about her health. Please note that this allegedly disabled and physically unfit candidate crushed her opponent in two (some would argue three) of those debates, What does that say about Trump?

Deep down in the crazy

Ack, we’re sliding farther into the pit. In the darkness of the rabbit hole, Trump’s recorded comments such as “Grab them by the pussy” are merely locker room talk and have no negative reflection on the man’s character. The defense argument is that plenty of regular guys get together and brag about abusing women in private. It’s a sport. A joke. And it’s only talk. Ha ha! Then a dozen women came forward with stories of actual abuse. It wasn’t funny before they came forward and it’s even more repulsive now.

The bottom of the pit

Unfortunately we have one more step down to the dank, rotting floor of the rabbit hole. This is where people darkly hint that the Clintons are responsible for the murder of some of their critics or associates. Evidence? Zero. It’s the last gambit for someone who has no respectability left to lose.

How do you play this game? First, find anyone who was in any way involved with or criticized the Clintons, whether famous or inconsequential. There must be tens of thousands, but you only need to find the ones who are no longer living. No matter how each one of them died, say that the death was “mysterious.” Heart attack? Say “alleged heart attack.” It’s just that easy. Find something, anything unusual about the death and play it up big. Now link them all to the Clintons and ask, “What’s going on here?” No evidence required.

You could successfully play this game with any public figure, from Rush Limbaugh to Mr. Rogers. It’s cruel, though. When you claim someone didn’t really die of a heart attack, for example, you are affecting that person’s family. They are mourning the death and trying to get on with their lives. These Clinton conspiracists are like the loons who rage at Sandy Hook parents and tell them that their kid didn’t die. They don’t care about the families, because ideology comes first.

Let’s get out of here

Yeesh. Time to head back up the ladder and take a shower. The new age rabbit hole in the previous post was silly, but not so ugly.