So, Trump landed in California. And there on the tarmac, he yammers once again about "forest management." (Fun fact: seven million square miles in 12 states have burned! so far. That's a lot of brooms you need to sweep up the forest.)
Later, when politely implored by state Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot during a public briefing to please work with scientists, he dismisses that with a simple, "It'll start getting cooler, just watch," as tens of thousands of Americans are fleeing their homes and evacuating their communities being burned to the ground. A dismissal that shows total ignorance about how Climate Change actually works. Once-cooler temperatures turns freezing. Normal snows become blizzards. Seasonal rains become hurricanes. And the hots? It was just 121-degrees in Los Angeles, an all-time record for the entire county.
And when Crowfoot replied that he wishes science agreed with Trump, he replied with a smirk and laugh, "Well, scientists don't know, actually."
Yes, he said that, "scientists don't know." And with a smirk and a laugh. And also with "Actually." As in "In actual fact."
That's scientists who have spent their careers studying this and researching it who supposedly don't know, actually -- but somehow he does know because he's never believed it. (As I always like to note, science is not a believe system.) And yes, of course, they know. They have the research, data and results. They know.
Yesterday, Joe Biden referred to Trump as not just a Climate Change Denier, he ratcheted that up to him being a Climate Arsonist.
But to put this in even greater perspective, as Trump says all this, denying Climate Change -- the only leader in the entire world to do so -- yet another tropical storm, now-upgraded to Hurricane Sally (because that's how Climate Change works), heads for Louisiana...as the state is still recovering from Hurricane Laura the other week, with the end not close.
How bad is it is Louisiana still, which Trump has seemingly ignored, as well, and has falling far off the news radar? Retired Army Lt. General Russel Honoré -- who lead the recovery effort of Hurricane Katrina -- said yesterday, "The grid is broke. It is broke at the level of what we saw in Puerto Rico. And the recovery is going to be three months, maybe, to get the power back on in most places. And maybe longer with 300 water systems that are down.”
As Hurricane Sally bears down on the state, yet again.
As wildfires burn across 12 states, over seven million acres destroyed, so far.
As Trump laughs at scientists he says don't know, but it will get cooler.
And the coronavirus will go away like a "miracle." While being recorded and getting caught lying about it.
That's the Trump plan on Climate Change, from He Who Knows More Than the Experts: brooms, paper towels and miracles.
199,000 Americans dead of COVID-19.
And the elected members of the Republican Party enable him and are complicit.
By the way, for a bonus, as the whimsy of good timing would have it, I received an email late yesterday afternoon from the California Parks Foundation about a half-hour Zoom webinar this morning with this same Wade Crowfoot in the video above. For those interested, if it hasn't taken place yet, the online event is set for 11-11:30 AM (West Coast time. That's 2-2:30 PM in the East). Secretary Crowfoot will talk about "the imminent threats posed by wildfires and climate change." and "opportunities to expand access to underserved communities."
You can register here.
Bandy Lee is a psychiatrist at Yale University and a violence expert. In her brief Twitter-bio, she describes herself as "Violence expert and forensic psychiatrist of 20 years, uninvolved in politics until politics invaded her area of expertise."
Six years go, two years before there was a thought of Trump in the White House, she had done a research study of violence. She decided to bring it to more public attention on Sunday because she saw a comment from one of her social media followers about how a Democratic president would have responded to the coronavirus crisis differently than the Republican in office. Unlike other people who may have had the same random thought, Dr. Lee had had the expertise to check it out.
In her response yesterday, she gave a cursory overview of the results in a series of tweets. I selected a few, and will let her speak for herself, since she does it so much better. And to repeat, this was not done as a way to condemn Trump, since it was completed two years before he took office. What it does, though, is confirm the legendary adage by historian George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
You can find the full study here.
For those here who don't want to read the full research study -- which I'm going to guess is pretty much everyone -- this is the opening Abstract introduction to the paper, with its summary of Objectives, Methods, Results and Conclusion. I don't expect many (as in perhaps any) to read through all of even the Abstract, but I include it here so that you can at least see the foundation of what Dr. Lee was seriously dealing with.
It's taken me a few days to get to this, lots of other things swirling around. But if you missed the broadcast on Sunday, here's the main story from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. It's on weather, and wonderful. Not just weather in general, mind you, but how it's reported to people and major conflicts with one specific service, AccuWeather. And needless-to-say, it's very funny amid the excellent story-telling.
If you didn't get to see Last Week Tonight with John Oliver last night, he had an interesting main story on bias in medicine, focusing on gender and racial bias. Some of it historic, much systemic. Like all his pieces, it's pretty funny, though more than that what stood out is how the bias manifests itself and the impact of it all. And like my favorite of his shows, he has a fun twist towards the end. Less grandiose than some of their best, but enjoyable nonetheless.
On this week's Al Franken podcast, his guest is former Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. And this and the recent podcast with Dana Carvey best-exemplify what I think makes this series so terrific. There are few people who can handle both a conversation about political humor and a lively, and actually-entertaining talk on nuclear physics.
As the website describes, "Moniz and Al discuss putting pragmatic meat on the bones of the Green New Deal. Al coins a new Kennedy-esque slogan, 'We choose to go to zero-carbon not because it is easy, but because otherwise WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!' Moniz, who was the chairman of MIT’s physics department, negotiated the technical nuclear parts of the Iran Deal with his Iranian counterpart. Because Trump has repeatedly called the US negotiators of the Iran Nuclear Deal 'very stupid people'”.
By the way, even if you don't want to listen to the whole conversation -- or any of it -- at least try to listen to the first 13 minutes when Franken has a sort of "opening monologue." While it's always a bit lighthearted, it's also informative with stories related to what's in the news. And here he tells a wonderful story about a young Minnesota girl born in Somalia who was a Senate page when Franken was in the Senate, and he later introduced her when she gave the valedictorian speech upon graduating high school.
The guest contestant for the 'Not My Job' segment of the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! is Tiera Fletcher, who is a 24-year-old rocket scientist working on a mission to Mars, after first helping establish a NASA gateway on the moon. The interview with host Peter Sagal could go one of two ways -- mind-numbingly boring or great fun. Happily, it's the latter.
This week, the folks over at The Al Franken Podcast tell us -- "Al talks to Michael Mann, Nobel Prize-winning climatologist for his work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We cover a lot of ground. How to talk about climate change to your crazy right-wing climate-denying uncle. 'Uncle Hal, sea level is rising. For two reasons. Ice is melting. And water expands when it gets warmer.' If Uncle Hal insists sea level is rising because of all the rocks falling into the ocean, then just give up."
While all this is true, what they leave out is that this is actually a very entertaining, interesting and accessible conversation. So, don't get scared off by, "Oh, my God, they're going to talk about science!!!!"
Yesterday I was having a conversation with a friend who was bewildered by the White House announcing that they were going to have a Climate Change panel. The only thing he could figure was that it had some connection to the liberal Green New Deal, but didn't know how. Maybe that they were trying to get ahead of it.
I said he was likely right for the foundation, but I doubted the reason. Given that Trump doesn't believe in Climate Change, it didn't seem probable that he was now on board. More likely is that they didn't want it to gain any steam and want some way to try and discredit it.
Then came this story later about the man reported to be Trump's choice to head the committee, William Happer, a Princeton professor. One would think that his disbelief in Climate Change would be the worst and most damning part of the story. But this is the Trump administration, so of course there's more. And that "more" is (and I swear this is true, there's video of him saying it) he compares reaction towards deniers to how Nazis treated Jews!
Okay, look, for starters, the mere fact that as a Climate Change denier he is simply...well, alive should be proof enough that such a view of the Nazi treatment of Jews is reprehensible. That beyond this he's also a tenured college professor is just bonus evidence. Of course ultimately he appears to be a perfect choice by Trump, given that he seems adept at denying pretty much anything he finds inconvenient.
At the very least, though, I do think we have our answer for why the committee. And Option #2 looks like a winner.
Many people on the far right don't believe in science, considering it more of a "faith-based system,", so it's only appropriate that "Fox News" host Pete Hegseth became their poster boy this morning when explaining on air that he hasn't washed his hands in 10 years, “Germs are not a real thing. I can’t see them. Therefore, they’re not real.”
Keep in mind, this is someone who viewers there trust to deliver information about the world to them. Which explains a lot about "Fox News" in a nutshell.
Note to self: don't shake hands with Pete Hegseth.
It's also worth noting that Trump was recently quoted as saying "Nancy Pelosi will never see my tax returns." Apparently he believes in the Pete Hegseth Theory of Life, where if you don't see something it doesn't exist.
Anyway, I'm sure that at some point in the coming days Pete Hegseth will say he was "just joking," although at the same time he will continue to not wash his hands. In the meantime, here are some other things Hegseth apparently must believe aren't real --
When a waiter spits in his soup
Robert J. Elisberg is a two-time recipient of the Lucille Ball Award for comedy screenwriting. He's written for film, TV, the stage, and two best-selling novels, is a regular columnist for the Writers Guild of America and was for the Huffington Post. Among his other writing, he has a long-time column on technology (which he sometimes understands), and co-wrote a book on world travel. As a lyricist, he is a member of ASCAP, and has contributed to numerous publications.
Feedspot Badge of Honor