The Age Of Embarrassment

Number 13 in a series

There was in the 18th century a period now called the Age of Enlightenment. It was marked by intellectual and philosophical advance, noted predominantly in Europe, but not denied to others. There was born the notion that authority and legitimacy should be founded on reason rather than on social standing and political power. I state this because this series is my argument that we may have entered in this country into the Age of Embarrassment. People at the highest levels are acting contrary to reason, and we are beginning to embarrass ourselves. There is evidence:

(CNN) — The Trump administration has fired another shot at the scientific community, this time dismantling a federal advisory committee on climate change.

Members on the 15-person committee tell CNN they learned the news by email Friday. CNN has obtained a copy of the email sent from acting National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration head Benjamin Friedman.

As the meme posted above would indicate, the Republican Party seems to have passed through the Age of Enlightenment without catching on. We now have a President of the United States who previously declared:

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

Considering whether Donald Trump ever backed down from that claim, the core concept has never left him:

They changed the name from “global warming” to “climate change” after the term global warming just wasn’t working (it was too cold)!

Another freezing day in the Spring – what is going on with “global warming”? Good move changing the name to “climate change” – sad!

It’s 46º (really cold) and snowing in New York on Memorial Day – tell the so-called “scientists” that we want global warming right now!

Ice storm rolls from Texas to Tennessee – I’m in Los Angeles and it’s freezing. Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!

We should be focusing on beautiful, clean air & not on wasteful & very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit! China & others are hurting our air

I’m running out of room here. I will just skip over some of these and print one more:

Any and all weather events are used by the GLOBAL WARMING HOAXSTERS to justify higher taxes to save our planet! They don’t believe it $$$$!

So we elected Donald Trump President, and we got what we asked for:

WASHINGTON — President Trump announced on Thursday that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, weakening efforts to combat global warming and embracing isolationist voices in his White House who argued that the agreement was a pernicious threat to the economy and American sovereignty.

In a speech from the Rose Garden, Mr. Trump said the landmark 2015 pact imposed wildly unfair environmental standards on American businesses and workers. He vowed to stand with the people of the United States against what he called a “draconian” international deal.

“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” the president said, drawing support from members of his Republican Party but widespread condemnation from political leaders, business executives and environmentalists around the globe.

You will note that in his speech President Trump is no longer denying anthropogenic global warming (AGW). He’s just saying it’s bad for business. Except…

Except, the city he named, Pittsburgh (not Paris), does not considered itself to be represented by Donald Trump. The voters of Pittsburgh went overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in the November election, and the city of Pittsburgh is all in for combating AGW. Again we are reminded we are no longer in the Age of Enlightenment.

So, has President Trump, rather the Department of Commerce under the command of Donald Trump, decided he can go it alone without the benefit of reason, previously provided by those scientists, now dismissed. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is part of the Department of Commerce, and the following is now posted on the NOAA site:

Per §102-3.55 of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the Federal Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment (Committee) charter expired on August 20, 2017. The Department of Commerce and NOAA appreciate the efforts of the Committee and offer sincere thanks to each of the Committee members for their service.

Please note this action does not impact the completion of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which remains a key priority for the Department and NOAA. 

Under the Global Change Research Act of 1990, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is responsible for climate assessment activities and the quadrennial National Climate Assessment (NCA) report. The NCA integrates and evaluates the findings of the USGCRP in the context of current and projected global climate change trends, both human-induced and natural, and analyzes the effects of current and projected climate change on: ecosystems and biological diversity, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, human health and welfare, and social systems. USGCRP is implementing a sustained National Climate Assessment process that will ultimately facilitate continuous and transparent participation of scientists and stakeholders across regions and sectors, enabling new information and insights to be synthesized as they emerge.

In 2015, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) established the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The Advisory Committee consists of 15 experts that advise on the engagement of stakeholders and on sustained assessment activities and the quadrennial NCA report.

The diverse membership of the Advisory Committee assures expertise that reflects the breadth of the NCA activities, including: communications, engagement, and education; risk management and risk assessment; economics and social sciences; technology, tools, and data systems; and other disciplines relevant to the sustained NCA process. These non-federal eminent experts also reflect the NCA regional and sectoral interests, as well as the ethnic and gender diversity of the United States. Members are appointed by the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA administrator, in consultation with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director.

For a concise overview of the Advisory Committee, please view our fact sheet.

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment is seeking public input on a draft outline of Near-term Recommendations on Sustained Assessment. Comments can be sent to snca.advisorycommittee@noaa.gov. Comments received by August 14, 2017 will be incorporated into the initial draft recommendations.

For further information contact:
Dr. Cynthia Decker, Designated Federal Officer
Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: (301) 734-1156
FAX: (301) 713-1459

Lest you imagine fifteen highly invested scientists and other professionals are being dumped on the street, take note: this is not a paid position:

Members will be selected for appointment on a clear and standardized basis in accordance with Department of Commerce guidance. Each member shall be appointed for a term of one, two, or three years and shall serve at the discretion of the Under Secretary. Thereafter, members may be reappointed for successive terms of two years. To the extent possible, not more than one-third of the total membership shall change in any one year. Members will be appointed as special government employees (SGEs) and will be subject to the ethical standards applicable to SGEs. Members are reimbursed for actual and reasonable travel and per diem expenses incurred in performing such duties, but will not be reimbursed for their time. As a Federal Advisory Committee, the Committee’s membership is required to be balanced in terms of viewpoints represented and the functions to be performed as well as the interests of geographic regions of the country and the diverse sectors of U.S. society.

[Emphasis added]

The CNN item above additionally noted:

The Trump administration’s dismissal of the advisory committee on climate change, first reported by The Washington Post, will not affect the completion of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, according to NOAA, which says the report remains a key priority.

Scientists who discussed this with CNN expressed concern the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), due for release next year, will be suppressed:

A not-yet-released federal report on climate change finds that humans are already witnessing the effects of a warming globe — and the report’s authors are fearing that the White House will intervene before it’s published. CNN’s Rene Marsh reports.

This concern has motivated the unauthorized release of an early draft of NCA4:

A final draft of a key federal report on the science behind climate change has been leaked to the New York Times and made public. The “Climate Science Special Report” (CSSR), produced by the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), is a cornerstone of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), a periodic study of climate change impacts across US regions. Many wonder how the Trump-Pence White House will deal with this first major US government report on climate change to come across its desk; a report warning that Americans are feeling the harmful impacts of climate change in real time, and therefore “directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet” as noted by the Times. Initially released for public review and comment during the last days of the Obama Administration, the final draft was submitted to the White House for final approval on June 28.

The New York Times has made a copy available online:

A final draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now. The report was completed this year and is part of the National Climate Assessment, which is congressionally mandated every four years. AUG. 7, 2017

A related Times article elaborates:

A final draft of a key federal report on the science behind climate change has been leaked to the New York Times and made public. The “Climate Science Special Report” (CSSR), produced by the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), is a cornerstone of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), a periodic study of climate change impacts across US regions. Many wonder how the Trump-Pence White House will deal with this first major US government report on climate change to come across its desk; a report warning that Americans are feeling the harmful impacts of climate change in real time, and therefore “directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet” as noted by the Times. Initially released for public review and comment during the last days of the Obama Administration, the final draft was submitted to the White House for final approval on June 28.

In other news, the Trump administration has decided to hold off pursuing the study of the health effects of surface coal mining:

(CNN) — The Trump administration has halted a study of the health effects of a common mining technique in Appalachia, which is believed to deposit waste containing toxic minerals in ground waters.

letter from the Interior Department directed the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to “cease all work” on a study of the potential health risks of mountaintop removal mining for people living near surface coal mine sites in central Appalachia. The Interior Department acknowledged in a statement that it had “put on hold” $1 million in funding for the two-year project as part of a review of its grants, which is focused on “responsibly using taxpayer dollars.”

I’m guessing, bad for business. Are you embarrassed yet?

 

Snowflake-in-Chief

New game in town—number 31 of a series

Easy one today, readers. I only want to post a short message from the President of the United States. Remember, this is an official communication of the United States government:

I want to thank Steve Bannon for his service. He came to the campaign during my run against Crooked Hillary Clinton – it was great! Thanks S

You have that, right? Now concentrate on the phrase, “Crooked Hillary Clinton.” And take the rest of the day off.

And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Buyer’s Remorse

Number 19 in a series

All right, readers, to give your tired brain a workout, here is a nice puzzle. Find four differences between the two photographs. The photos are screen shots from ABC World News Tonight with David Muir, dated 18 August 2017 and streaming on Hulu.

If you were able to locate the differences, then give yourself a pat on the back and have a glass of wine.

And that is all I am going to say about that. When you’re talking about buyer’s remorse, not much more needs to be said. Keep reading. There will be more.

Buyer’s Remorse

Number 18 in a series

It’s going around more every day. It’s buyer’s remorse. It’s buying something at the store, taking it home, and finding out it’s not what you wanted. Robert “Bob” Corker is one such person. He’s the junior senator representing Tennessee, and he’s exhibiting visible signs of buyer’s remorse:

On 17 August 2017, two days after President Trump’s third statement about the ‘Charlottesville rally’, Corker “bluntly questioned the president’s ability to perform the duties of his office” (New York Times). Corker told reporters: “The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful”. Trump had not “appropriately spoken to the nation” about Charlottesville, Va.

My understanding is that Senator Corker is a level-headed person, though not nearly as old as I am. So I figure this epiphany was slow in coming. It would be interesting to probe the history of the Senator’s thinking, so recently revealed. When did the light begin to show through? At what point did the sun peek above the horizon? Any number of times present themselves. We can only speculate.

It could have been as early as five years ago.

An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that ‘s birth certificate is a fraud.

It could have been more recent:

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

It could have been as late as last year.

Last October.

It could have been back when Trump was trying to figure out whether Muslims were people:

At a December 2015 rally in Charleston, South Carolina, just a few days after the San Bernardino shooting, Trump told thousands of supporters:

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”

It could have been when Trump displayed a remarkable loss of contact with reality:

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

Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!

Could have been when Trump began to get the hang of dealing with American industry:

Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!

Or most recently:

Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!

Could have been any one of those times. It’s for sure, Bob Corker must have known all along this business with Donald Trump wasn’t going to work out. He’s noted for being exceptionally coy. It’s a rare quality.

Buyer’s Remorse

Number 17 in a series

There are times in my life I have invested in purchases that did not turn out. A bunch of other people are feeling the same way about now. President Donald Trump’s odd-beyond-the-pale press conference at Trump Tower earlier this week may have been a watershed. The President talked about certain CEOs of major companies leaving his manufacturing council. He got into a discussion of that, then the dialog turned to Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville, Virgina. He was asked why he waited so long to clarify his initial remarks. Heather D. Heyer, 32, was killed when a man drove his car into a crowd of people protesting the White Nationalist rally being held. Twenty others were injured. From Vox, here is what the President said in response:

Trump: I didn’t wait long. I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct, not make a quick statement.

The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement but you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts. It takes a little while to get the facts. You still don’t know the facts. It is a very, very important process to me. It is a very important statement. So I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts.

If you go back to my statement, I brought it. I brought it. As I said, remember, saturday, we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence. It has no place in America. I went on from there. Here is the thing.

Excuse me. Take it nice and easy. Here is the thing.

When I make a statement, I like to be correct. I want the facts. This event just happened. A lot of the event didn’t happen yet as we were speaking. This event just happened. Before I make a statement, I need the facts. I don’t want to rush into a statement. So making the statement when I made it was excellent.

In fact, the young woman — who I hear is a fantastic young woman and it was on NBC, her mother wrote me and said through I guess Twitter, social media, the nicest things. I very much appreciated that. I hear she was a fine, really actually an incredible young woman. Her mother, on Twitter, thanked me for what I said. Honestly, if the press were not fake and if it was honest, the press would have said what I said was very nice. Unlike you and unlike the media, before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.

That response would have sufficed, if only the President had reined in his thoughts as questions persisted. A reporter asked about CEOs who have abandoned the manufacturing council. President Trump responded and then reverted back to the matter of Saturday’s events. Again from the transcript posted on Vox:

I would do it the same way, because I want to make sure when I make a statement that the statement is correct. There was no way of making a correct statement that early. I had to see the facts, unlike a lot of reporters. I didn’t know David Duke was there. I wanted to see the facts. The facts, as they started coming out, were very well-stated. Everybody said his statement was beautiful. If he would have made it sooner, that would have been good.

I couldn’t have made it sooner, because I didn’t know all of the facts. Frankly, people still don’t know all of the facts. It was very important — excuse me, excuse me. It was very important to me to get the facts out and correctly. Because if I would have made a fast statement and the first statement was made without knowing much other than what we were seeing. The second statement was made with knowledge, with great knowledge. There are still things — excuse me. There are still things that people don’t know. I want to make a statement with knowledge. I want to know the facts.

Q: Was this terrorism? Can you tell us how you are feeling about Steve Bannon?

Trump: I think the driver of the car is a disgrace to himself, his family and this country. You can call it terrorism. You can call it murder. You can call it whatever you want. I would just call it as the fastest one to come up with a good verdict. There is a question. Is it murder? Is it terrorism? Then you get into legal semantics. The driver of the car is a murderer. What he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing.

He did not answer the question about Steve Bannon, his advisor, but returned to the Charlottesville episode. He wasn’t finished with it, getting back shortly. Responding to another question from a reporter:

Q: Said that the alt-right is behind these attacks and he linked that same group to those that perpetrated the attack in Charlottesville.

Trump: I don’t know. I can’t tell you. I’m sure Senator McCain must know what he is talking about. When you say the alt right. You define it. Go ahead. Define it for me. Let’s go.

Q: Senator McCain defined them as the same group.

Trump: What about the alt left that came charging at, as you say, at the alt right? Do they have any assemblage of guilt? What about the fact that they came charging with clubs in their hands swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do. That was a horrible, horrible day. Wait a minute. I’m not finished. I’m not finished, fake news. That was a horrible day. I will fell tell you something. I watched that very closely, much more closely than you people watched it. You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now. You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.

Q: Do you think what you call the alt left is the same as neo-Nazis?

Trump: All of those people — i’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups. Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee.

You take a look at some of the groups and you see and you would know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases, you are not. Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. This week, it is Robert E. Lee and this week, Stonewall Jackson. Is it George Washington next? You have to ask yourself, where does it stop? You take a look. The night before. They were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.

Infrastructure question. Go ahead.

The topic continued to come up:

Q: Do you think things have gotten worse or better since you took office with regard to race relationships?

Trump: They have been frayed for a long time. You can ask President Obama about that. He would make speeches about it. I believe that the fact that I brought in, it will be soon, millions of jobs, you see where companies are moving back into our countries. I think that’s going to have a tremendous positive impact on race relations.

We have companies coming back into our country. We have two car companies that just announced. We have Foxconn in Wisconsin, just announced. We have many companies, I would say, pouring back into the country. I think that’s going to have a huge positive impact on race relations.

You know why? It is jobs. What people want now, they want jobs. They want great jobs with good pay. When they have that, you watch how race relations will be. We are spending a lot of money on the inner cities. We are fixing the inner cities. We are doing far more than anybody has done with respect to the inner cities. It is a priority for me.

Q: Mr. President, are you putting what you are calling the altleft and white supremacists on the same moral plane?

Trump: I am not putting anybody on a moral plane. You had a group on one side and the other and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and horrible. It was a horrible thing to watch. There is another side. There was a group on this side, you can call them the left. You have just called them the left, that came violently attacking the other group. You can say what you want. That’s the way it is.

Q: You said there was hatred and violence on both sides?

Trump: I think there is blame on both sides. You look at both sides. I think there is blame object both on both sides. I have no doubt about it. You don’t have doubt about it either. If you reported it accurately, you would say that the neo-Nazis started this thing. They showed up in Charlottesville. Excuse me. They didn’t put themselves down as neo-Nazis. You had some very bad people in that group. You also had some very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group — excuse me, excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down, of to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.

George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down — excuse me. Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him. Good. Are we going to take down his statue. He was a major slave owner. Are we going to take down his statue? It is fine. You are changing history and culture.

You had people and i’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists. They should be condemned totally. You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. The press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats. You had a lot of bad people in the other group too.

Q: You were saying the press has treated white nationalists unfairly?

Trump: No, no. There were people in that rally. I looked the night before. If you look, there were people protesting very quietly the taking down taking down the statue of Robert E. Lee. I am sure there were some bad ones.

The following day, it looked like they had some rough, bad people, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call them. You had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest and very legally protest. I don’t know if you know, they had a permit. The other group didn’t have a permit.

So I only tell you this. There are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was horrible moment for our country, a horrible moment. But there are two sides to the country.

Does anybody have a final question? Do you have an infrastructure question?

My cutting and pasting from the Vox transcript leaves the dialog a bit chopped up, but there is something you can take from it. Two sides to the story? Yes, that’s what the President said. To get an angle on one of the sides, I pulled up an interview with somebody who was there. Here is Pastor Traci Blackmon of the United Church of Christ. She was interviewed on MSNBC:

Trump is lying about Charlottesville, says witness

According to Rev. Traci Blackmon, who protested the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, the president was lying when he defended the behavior of the alt right marchers and blamed “both sides” for the violence.

Lying. That’s strong language to levy against the President of the United States. The video is from an interview by Joy Reid on MSNBC. Here is a partial transcript. You can watch the video to get the full picture:

Joy: Donald Trump said that the night before the Saturday melee there were good people who were quietly marching in Charlottesville, and he was talking about the White Nationalist protesters. You were inside that church. Did you hear people quietly marching?

The church is apparently on the grounds of the University of Virginia.

Blackmon: … No. And I say these words with the utmost seriousness. I rarely use these words, but they apply here. Donald Trump is lying.

Whoa! A black woman I never heard of before is calling the President of the United States a liar. And I am expected to believe her? Most interesting is that I have no problem believing her. She may as well have told me the sun was coming up in the east. This is a most unusual period in American history. And some are at long last beginning to experience regret.

But first it’s helpful to know more about what the Reverend Blackmon had to say. In her interview she told of participating in a worship service Friday night in the church with a number of others. The place was standing room only. There were Christians, Jews, Muslims, and even some like me. They had one thing in common and that was opposition to the message brought to town by the White Nationalists. Then more happened.

As the time approached for the group to leave came a message they had to shelter in place. There was a mob approaching with torches. The people were chanting slogans.”Blood and soil.” “You will not replace us.” “Jews will not replace us.” “White lives matter.” Thirty minutes later, when the worshipers were allowed to leave, they had to make their way out the side and back door(s) for fear they would be assaulted if they went out the front. They had to make their way through the alley. Exiting the area by car, Blackmon noted the White Nationalists on the sidewalk along the street. They were wearing the famous “Make America Great Again” baseball caps. Some carried both baseball bats and torches.

As a background note, the slogan “blood and soil” is an echo from 80 years ago:

The slogan blood and soil is an English translation of GermanBlut und Boden, a nineteenth century German idealization of a racially defined national body (“blood”) united with a settlement area (“soil”). By it, rural and farm life forms are not only idealized as a counterweight to urban ones, but are also combined with racist and anti-Semitic ideas of a sedentary Germanic-Nordic peasantry as opposed to [specifically] Jewish nomadism. The contemporary German concept Lebensraum, the belief that the German people needed to reclaim historically German areas of Eastern Europe into which they could expand, is tied to it. Because of its connections to German nationalism, the phrase has been taken up by twenty-first-century neo-nazi groups in North America as a rallying cry.

“Blood and soil” was a key slogan of Nazi ideology. The nationalist ideology of Artamanen and the writings Walther Darré guided Nazi agricultural policies which were later adopted by Adolph HitlerHeinrich Himmler and Baldur von Schirach.

Not quite as American as apple pie.

Blackmon further responds to President Trump’s assertion the White Nationalists were set upon by others with “clubs and other implements.” Here is an account of the President’s remarks:

On Wednesday — as mourners gathered in Charlottesville to remember the woman killed when a white supremacist from Ohio allegedly plowed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters — Trump’s characterization of the anti-racists drew a mixed response of confusion, anger and, among some of Trump’s supporters, plaudits.

“What about the ‘alt-left’ that came charging at, as you say, the ‘alt-right?’” Trump said in attempting to describe the mayhem. “Do they have any semblance of guilt…. What about the fact they came charging with clubs in hands, swinging clubs?”

Here is what Blackmon says about that statement. From the video:

Again, Donald Trump is lying.

Wow! This woman is calling the President of the United States a liar. And who is to doubt her? She further charges, by implication, that the White Nationalists threw full cans of soda, full bottles of water, and urine on the counter protesters. She says their permit to  hold the rally did not include a permit to do those things. She challenges President Trump’s characterization of the counter protesters as Alt Left: Here is a quote of the President’s remarks:

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?

Blackmon rejects that characterization. She describes the people in the church as “faith-based.” She further describes the people who came to Charlottesville to rally for white nationalism. She says violence was expected from these people and notes the fliers that were distributed prior to the event.

How much more innocent can they be? On another point, here is something apparently for an earlier event:

I am guessing the graphic alludes to the Robert E. Lee statue at the center of the controversy.

Apparently this is a lot more than some people signed up for. Big business (with exceptions) is a traditional base of support for conservative politics. Fewer government restrictions, better tax rates for rich people. All this bought candidate a lot of support. The down side is that President Trump is exerting a drag on half a basket full of famous brands:

Some CEOs have discovered that mouthing even anodyne support for Trump can have a really negative impact on their business relationships and stock price. In February, Kevin Plank, the CEO of apparel-maker Under Amour and a member of the manufacturing council, said “to have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset to this country.” In response, some of the company’s leading endorsers, including Stephen Curry, expressed their anger, customers rebelled, and the stock was ultimately downgraded.

Other CEOs have discovered that while the policies of Trump and the GOP may be theoretically good for “business,” they are really bad for their particular business. Duh. Musk was the first to bail from Trump’s manufacturing council after Trump announced the U.S. would pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The upshot has been a nearly complete desertion from Trump’s advisory councils. In characteristic response, Donald Trump dissolved two of these in a preemptive strike:

President Donald Trump dissolved two of his economic advisory councils Wednesday after a rash of CEOs resigned in the wake of his response to a white nationalist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, that occurred Saturday.

Specifically:

Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!

Buyers remorse is showing real consequences. There’s going to be more about this. Keep reading. And, Jesus, stay out of this.

Buyer’s Remorse

Number 16 in a series

This is getting ridiculous. My original idea was to highlight subtle signs of buyer’s remorse. I would drop a few hints that some are having second thoughts. Like maybe, they wish they had pulled the other lever on 8 November. I was really going to have to work this. I thought. Little did I realize the government of the United States was going to do the heavy lifting. “Really?” you say. “The government is stepping up to lend you a hand in your nefarious scheme? Bet on it.

It has come to my attention the government has hired a person whose sole task is to make my task not only effort-free, but a joy to  wake up to each morning. And they pay him well. You may have heard of him. He is Donald J. Trump.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides,” Trump said during a short statement from his private golf club in New Jersey. “It has been going on for a long time in our country — not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America.”

“It has been going on for a long time in our country…” Yes. And who would know better?

Thank you. It’s true, and these are the best and the finest. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence…”

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence…”

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump on Monday called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” the most dramatic response yet to the string of terrorist attacks that have Americans increasingly on edge.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence…”

After receiving a notice from his security that someone might be planning to throw tomatoes at him (again), Trump told his supporters to “knock the crap out of them … I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.” The crowd vociferously cheered him on.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence…”

During an interview on CNN, host Jake Tapper pressed the presumptive GOP presidential nominee about why Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s ethnicity should disqualify him from hearing the case. Trump pointed to his plan to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I think I’m going to do very well with Hispanics, but we’re building a wall. He’s a Mexican. We’re building a wall between here and Mexico,” Trump said. “The answer is, he is giving us very unfair rulings, rulings that people can’t even believe. This case should have ended years ago.”

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence…”

In a speech Friday to police officers at a community college on Long Island, President Donald Trump appeared to encourage them to treat suspects roughly and not to take steps to protect them from injury. “And when you see these towns, and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon—you just see them thrown in, rough,” he said. “I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.’ Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head—the way you put the hand over, like don’t hit their head, and they’ve just killed somebody. Don’t hit their head. I said, ‘You can take the hand away, okay?’”

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence…”

Jennifer Lin, a former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter spoke with CNN about her story with Donald Trump. In the late 1980s, Lin wrote an article about Trump’s casinos that he didn’t like and so he called the paper and unleashed on Lin, calling her “shit for brains” who worked for “a shit newspaper,” and later called her a cunt. Sigh.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence…”

Repeating his contention that Mrs. Clinton wanted to abolish the right to bear arms, Mr. Trump warned at a rally here that it would be “a horrible day” if Mrs. Clinton were elected and got to appoint a tiebreaking Supreme Court justice.

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Mr. Trump said, as the crowd began to boo. He quickly added: “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”

Last month the Second Amendment people promised to show up:

A Ku Klux Klan chapter holding a rally in downtown Charlottesville on Saturday afternoon says it expects 80 to 100 members and supporters to take part in the protest and that most will have guns with them.

“It’s an open-carry state, so our members will be armed,” said James Moore, a member of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which is headquartered in Pelham, N.C., near the Virginia border. Moore said that if members are attacked, they will defend themselves.

Last Saturday they did show up, with their guns:

Heavily-armed men in camouflage clothing and tactical gear have been filmed marching through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, ahead of a planned white nationalist rally.

The militia group was seen carrying military-style assault rifles with telescope sights and spare magazines, protective helmets, radios and knives. One appeared to be wearing a bandolier of shotgun shells and a second had spare handgun magazines; another had a Confederate flag patch on his vest.

We can all be thankful President Trump condemns “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence…”

We may now be getting the government we paid for.

The Age Of Embarrassment

Number 12 in a series

Somehow it has come to pass that conservative politics and science don’t fit together in the same sentence. I’m guessing I first noticed this decades ago when scientists connected tobacco use with a big risk for cancer. Conservative politicians, needing to protect their base in tobacco-growing  regions, pushed back mightily. It’s been sort of downhill from there. Additional examples abound.

Sitting in on a television panel discussion I took notice of a panelist from the Cato Institute. Cato attributes to itself a libertarian philosophy, but that’s conservative enough for our purposes. The topic of discussion was a holding by a government agency (could have been the Environmental Protection Agency) that the allowable limit for arsenic in drinking water should be lowered from 50 parts per billion (ppb) to 10. The Cato guy (I do not recall  his name) argued against that. His position was the proposed limit was arbitrary and had no scientific basis. At the time I was inclined to think Mr. Cato’s concern was not so much with what was proper for public health, a subject beyond his area of expertise, but rather a matter of government intrusion. He did not go so far as to say that public health is no business of the government, but conservative thinking has reached into that dark region.

A few decades back some scientists noticed that chlorinated fluorocarbons, produced and used in industry, tend to not break down  until they reach the stratosphere. There ultraviolet radiation breaks down the molecule, releasing atomic chlorine. The free chlorine then proceeds to catalyze the decomposition of ozone in the stratosphere, allowing more ultraviolet radiation to  flood through. The obvious fix was to quit making and using these chemical compounds.

This was an obvious violation of people’s rights and an unwarranted government intrusion. Besides, the science behind it was flawed and also politically motivated. A previous editor of The North Texas Skeptic was Pat Reeder, who professed conservative (and anti-environmentalist) views. He had occasion to comment:

Of course, this could be connected to changing rainfall patterns, etc., but it seems a stretch to blame Chicago’s killer heat wave on that one degree uptick. Having lived for awhile in the northeast, I think I have an idea of why so many people died from the heat in Chicago, and the concerned citizens in the environmental movement have it in their power right now to prevent it from happening again. They don’t even have to lobby Congress or drive one of those dorky electric cars.

Most of the victims of the Chicago heat wave were elderly people in poor health, living alone, without air conditioners or the money to buy them. They weren’t acclimated to the heat, they weren’t able to overcome it, and they had nobody to look in and help them (many of the victims were buried by the city because nobody claimed the bodies). It wasn’t so much ozone breakdown that killed them as it was societal breakdown.

All right. I still have not figured out the ozone connection, but I do recall that Pat came out against it at the time.

Wouldn’t you know it? The scientists who figured out the ozone connection moseyed on up to Stockholm in 1995 and picked up the Nobel Prize for their findings. And that pretty much put the kibosh on claims of flawed science, except (trust me on this) winning a Nobel Prize doesn’t count with most conservatives. Anyhow, the governments of the world squelched CFC production and its use, the presence of these compounds in the stratosphere dwindled, and the ozone layer repaired itself with the production of more ozone up there.

But recall Pat’s remarks concerning heat deaths back in 1995. Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) remains in  dispute by conservative politicians. I will just call it global warming for convenience. It’s science. It has global human impact. The resolution requires drastic action. Therefore it must be politically-motivated and seriously-flawed science. Conservative politicians and conservative pundits have spoken.

Not only that, now that the Republican (conservative) party is in power, they have acted and have plans to continue to do so. Their standard bearer is currently Donald Trump, the Commander-in-Chief. He has the ball, and he is running with it. Things are happening. A bit of history:

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

Snowing in Texas and Louisiana, record setting freezing temperatures throughout the country and beyond. Global warming is an expensive hoax!

It’s hard to back down from that, not saying that Donald Trump could not do it if he wanted to. He has shown signs of waffling:

WASHINGTON — President Trump announced on Thursday that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, weakening efforts to combat global warming and embracing isolationist voices in his White House who argued that the agreement was a pernicious threat to the economy and American sovereignty.

In a speech from the Rose Garden, Mr. Trump said the landmark 2015 pact imposed wildly unfair environmental standards on American businesses and workers. He vowed to stand with the people of the United States against what he called a “draconian” international deal.

“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” the president said, drawing support from members of his Republican Party but widespread condemnation from political leaders, business executives and environmentalists around the globe.

All right. The President missed a beat on that last note. The citizens of Pittsburgh voted predominantly for Hillary Clinton, and the city government has a positive position on combating global warming. But I did mention waffling:

Last week, President Trump announced that the United States wouldwithdraw from the Paris climate agreement. But it will take more than one speech to pull out: Under the rules of the deal, which the White House says it will follow, the earliest any country can leave is Nov. 4, 2020. That means the United States will remain a party to the accord for nearly all of Mr. Trump’s current term, and it could still try to influence the climate talks during that span.

The item appearing in The New York Times back in June has more to say about the matter:

So the next four years will be a busy time for climate policy. Mr. Trump’s aides plan to keep working to dismantle domestic climate programs like the Clean Power Plan. And the world’s nations will meet regularly to hash out details of the Paris agreement, even as the United States’ exit looms. Here is what comes next.

And there is more, obviously. What speaks most loudly is not what the Trump administration is saying but what it is doing. For one, President Trump nominated former Texas Governor Rick Perry to head up the Department of Energy, a department he swore to abolish back when he was running for the Republican nomination. Now that he is Secretary Perry, his words have weight. An opinion piece appearing in The Hill, penned by Ross McKitrick, a noted critic of global warming, has the intent of casting doubt on the science. To wit:

Policy makers and the public need to understand the extent to which major scientific institutions like the American Meteorological Society have become biased and politicized on the climate issue. Convincing them of this becomes much easier when the organizations themselves supply the evidence.

That was the first shot out of the box in a piece titled, “In the fight between Rick Perry and climate scientists, Perry is winning.” Interestingly, McKitrick went on to say:

This happened recently in response to a CNBC interview with Energy Secretary Rick Perry. He was asked “Do you believe CO2 [carbon dioxide] is the primary control knob for the temperature of the Earth and for climate?”

It was an ambiguous question that defies a simple yes or no answer. Perry thought for moment then said, “No, most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment we live in.” He then went on to acknowledge the climate is changing and CO2 is having a role, but the issue is how much, and being skeptical about some of these things is “quite all right.”

It is on this point McKitrick appears to have given away the game. First of all, the question is not ambiguous. It is straight-forward. Is our major concern CO2? Yes, or no. I’m going to answer for the Secretary and say it is yes. CO2 is the item people are putting into the atmosphere, it is the constituent within the atmosphere that is rising. It is something that humans have the ability to control.

And Secretary Perry whiffs the ball: “No, most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment we live in.” No. The primary control knob is not the ocean waters. Nothing we are doing to the ocean waters is affecting global warming, especially to the extend that CO2 is. And the environment we live in is the thing that we are affecting. It is a symptom, not a cause. Professor McKitrick is not a physical scientist. His area of expertise is “environmental economics and policy analysis.” Tellingly, he is a senior fellow of the Fraser Institute, a conservative think tank, and he is a member of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, of which he is a member of the academic advisory board. From Wikipedia:

The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation is a conservative Christian public policy group that promotes a free-market approach to care for the environment that is critical of much of the current environmental movement. In particular, the Cornwall Alliance rejects claims of detrimental global warming. Originally called the “Interfaith Stewardship Alliance” it was founded in 2005 in reaction to the efforts of evangelical leaders (such as Rick Warren) to fight global warming. The name Cornwall come from the 2000 Cornwall Declaration. The organization’s views on the environment have been strongly influenced by the wise use movement of the 1980s and 1990s.

I don’t want to make a big deal of this, but McKitrick, from all appearances, holds religious commitments that put him in the same boat with those who believe the Earth is 6000 years old, snakes and donkey’s can talk, and people can  come back to life after they have been well and truly killed. He has shed a quantity of intellectual rigor along the way.

But then, his is an opinion piece. No deep, scientific introspection is claimed here. McKitrick’s The Hill piece is significant here because it reflects the thinking of the people making science policy decisions within the Trump administration. Much of this deciding is at odds with government scientists doing the actual work. Some bonds are becoming frayed:

Scientists Fear Trump Will Dismiss Blunt Climate Report

The item appearing in The Times yesterday provides additional analysis of the draft report. Of interest is any perceived connection between global warming (for real) and specific episodes. People should be cautious attempting to attribute specific events to global warming. What is most pertinent are trends directly attributable to increased concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere:

In the United States, the report concludes with “very high” confidence that the number and severity of cool nights have decreased since the 1960s, while the frequency and severity of warm days have increased. Extreme cold waves, it says, are less common since the 1980s, while extreme heat waves are more common.

Water vapor in the atmosphere is a major greenhouse gas. It interacts with infrared radiation, keeping heat from escaping by that route. Go to a place like Tucson, Arizona, where there is little moisture in the air, and when the sun goes down there is a noticeable drop in temperature. If you could remove all the air above you, then you would obtain a more dramatic effect. You would be like an astronaut in space, without the protection of the atmosphere. Heat would be radiated from your body, and if you were shaded from  the sun and other sources of radiation, you would frost up very quickly.

As CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere increase, any specific place on  planet will experience less cooling when the sun goes down. That’s global warming in  action. The long range effects will be profound.

The study examines every corner of the United States and finds that all of it was touched by climate change. The average annual temperature in the United States will continue to rise, the authors write, making recent record-setting years “relatively common” in the near future. It projects increases of 5.0 to 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit (2.8 to 4.8 degrees Celsius) by the late century, depending on the level of future emissions.

The ability of political power to shape the narrative is evident. Some examples:

At the Interior Department, a climate scientist who has shared his thoughts on global warming was recently reassigned — to accountant. At the Agriculture Department, the man Trump has chosen to head science as undersecretary of agriculture for research, education and economics has no formal hard sciences background. At the Environmental Protection Agency, where the administration has successfully delayed a number of regulations drafted under President Barack Obama, Administrator Scott Pruitt is aiming to get more industry voices into the scientific process.

You should read the complete item posted by CNN. Those in power are enlisting the support of global warming opponents to accommodate interests of business groups that will be affected. The idea trotted forth is that these groups have a vested interest in the outcome and must be heard. Apparently the truth is negotiable.

We are presently deep into the Age of Embarrassment, and there will be more. Keep reading.

The Government You Paid For

Number 5

The matter of Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) has come up before:

A follow-up investigation by the PolitiFact.com brought the conclusion: this is a pants on fire not true. PolitiFact concludes:

Our ruling

The Facebook post tells the story of a man who says he opted out of Obamacare soon after the marketplace was launched on Oct. 1, 2013, and was informed that he owed a fine of more than $4,000.

The post includes many elements that make no sense or are flat-out wrong — and can be easily debunked by reading the law or reliable summaries of it. We rate it Pants on Fire.

That was nearly four years ago, and the tussle continues. Donald Trump has since been elected President on the promise of repealing and replacing the ACA. This scheme has not been working out. Republicans in  Congress submitted 60 pieces of legislation to this purpose while Mr. Obama was President. The President vetoed all of them, said vetoes being sustained, because Republicans in Congress did not have enough votes to  override the vetoes.

Now that Mr. Trump is President, and now that Republicans control both houses of Congress, there should be no problem repealing and/or replacing the ACA. Except, the Republicans all this time never had a plan for doing that exact thing. The ACA, which Donald Trump promised to dispose of his first day in office, is still on the books, and Republicans are making little progress toward achieving their previously-stated goal. The squabble continues.

All of this prompted me to contact a key senator from my home state. I found his Web page and filled out a message form. I essentially requested that he consider the wellbeing of all the people of Texas and not just the wishes of those who supported his re-election. After a few days I received a response by email:

Senator Cornyn <SenateWebmail@cornyn.senate.gov>

Aug 5 at 7:54 AM

To jf_blanton@yahoo.com

Dear John:

Thank you for contacting me with your suggestions regarding health care reform. I appreciate having the benefit of your comments on this matter.

The existing American health care system faces a myriad of complex challenges. The 2010 passage of sweeping health care reform continues to have dramatic implications for our health care system and for all 321 million Americans.

I often hear the frustration of Texans struggling to meet their health care needs in the existing system and understand the importance of implementing common-sense reforms that achieve results. Under the Affordable Care Act (P. L. 111-148), premiums have increased by more than 105 percent since 2013, and one-third of all counties in the United States have only one option on their exchange. Moreover, 6.5 million families preferred to pay a tax penalty in 2015 rather than purchase a government-approved health care plan, costing a combined total of $3 billion. Meaningful health care reform is necessary.

To this end, I have supported legislative proposals that place patients, their families, and their doctors at the center of health care decisions, rather than government bureaucrats. As the Senate continues to debate how we can improve upon our current system, I will keep your views in mind and support realistic reforms to lower health care costs, address entitlement spending, and increase access to affordable health coverage.

I appreciate the opportunity to represent Texas in the United States Senate. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

Sincerely,

JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator
517 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2934
Fax: (202) 228-2856
 And that was most gratifying. Of course, I do not think for a minute that a busy United States Senator takes time out to answer all his correspondence (maybe he does), but I am sure the above represents the thinking of Senator John Cornyn of Texas. To that end, I consider his closing statement most interesting:
To this end, I have supported legislative proposals that place patients, their families, and their doctors at the center of health care decisions, rather than government bureaucrats.

We have seen these past months how that is working out. This from Forbes:

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that 24 million fewer people will have health insurance by 2026 under the House GOP plan to replace Obamacare. That projection is unsurprising, and quite likely overstated. But what is surprising about the CBO report is the ways in which it makes the GOP bill look better than expected, and how it points to how the bill can be improved.

There is more besides this, and you can read the linked page to get the rest. But that is the gist. The Republican-controlled House voted in place (not enacted) a plan to replace the ACA, said plan being predicted to put millions more people among the uninsured. Apparently somebody has missed  the point. The purpose of the ACA was to add more people to the ranks of those having health (medical) insurance.

Of course, Mr. Cornyn works for the Senate, which must also come up with a plan. It may be of interest how that’s working out. From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The Senate bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act was edging toward collapse on Monday after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said it would increase the number of people without health insurance by 22 million by 2026.

Two Republicans, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky, said Monday that they would vote against even debating the health care bill, joining Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, who made the same pledge on Friday. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin hinted that he, too, would probably oppose taking up the bill on a procedural vote expected as early as Tuesday, meaning a collapse could be imminent.

Right! Not only has the Senate been able to come up with a bill to improve on the ACA, but key Republican senators have refused to vote for one that was submitted for vote. Since publication of the above item, Senator John McCain, Republican from Arizona, also declined to vote for the bill. Seeing as how the Republican Party has only a two-vote edge, Senator McCain’s vote killed the Republican proposal.

Despite Senator Cornyn’s best intentions, the United States Congress is not going to be able to improve on the ACA without discarding a half a basket full of outworn notions. They are going to need to get past objections against a bunch of people obtaining health insurance with premiums paid by others. They are also going to need to acknowledge universal medical care is a benefit to the American economy, those benefits including:

  • More people working productively rather than languishing at home, unable to work.
  • Reduced costs with people having debilitating illness going to their doctor rather than crowding hospital emergency rooms.
  • Reduced medical costs, as more people receive preventive care and do not develop serious medical issues.

And likely more.

Readers, it is to your benefit to contact your congressman and senator. These people depend on your vote to return to office next year in the case of your House representative and to the Senate in the case of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. If you don’t let them know, and in great numbers, they are going to think that next year’s election will be another walk-on part in the drama currently playing out in Washington.

Buyer’s Remorse

Number 15 in a series

All right, this is getting to be embarrassing. I started this series with the idea of taking a jab now and then at a bunch of my countrymen who supported Donald Trump for President, voted for him, heaped praise, made apologies. It’s not so funny anymore. It has become tawdry, and I am feeling a bit ashamed of myself.

So, let’s get on with it.

Campaigning for President, Donald Trump was triumphant:

Trump: Who’s gonna pay for the wall?

Crowd: Mexico!

Trump: Who?

Crowd: Mexico!

That was so cool. Think so? Here’s more:

Trump: That wall will go up so fast, your head will spin.

Remember those days? Our heads did spin. Here was a candidate who was willing to work wonders. We know that because he told us so. Then came the election, and President Trump got serious about building the wall. And having Mexico pay for it. Time to get President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico on the phone. The Washington Post has the story:

[After some preamble]

President Trump: … The only thing I will ask you though is on the wall, you and I both have a political problem. My people stand up and say, “Mexico will pay for the wall” and your people probably say something in a similar but slightly different language. But the fact is we are both in a little bit of a political bind because I have to have Mexico pay for the wall – I have to.

Because you and I are both at a point now where we are both saying we are not to pay for the wall. From a political standpoint, that is what we will say. We cannot say that anymore because if you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that. I am willing to say that we will work it out, but that means it will come out in the wash and that is okay. But you cannot say anymore that the United States is going to pay for the wall. I am just going to say that we are working it out. Believe it or not, this is the least important thing that we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important talk about. But in terms of dollars – or pesos – it is the least important thing.

President Peña Nieto: And on the other issue, Mr. President, on trade I think we are moving forward in a very positive fashion, especially through the dialogue both of our teams are holding. You have a very big mark on our back, Mr. President, regarding who pays for the wall. This is what I suggest, Mr. President – let us stop talking about the wall. I have recognized the right of any government to protect its borders as it deems necessary and convenient. But my position has been and will continue to be very firm saying that Mexico cannot pay for that wall.

President Trump: But you cannot say that to the press. The press is going to go with that and I cannot live with that. You cannot say that to the press because I cannot negotiate under those circumstances.

[Some more back and forth]

President Trump: That is very good, I agree with you 100 percent. Enrique, if you want, I have the Prime Minister of Great Britain coming in in a little while. If you want, you can put out a statement saying that we had a great conversation and our teams are going to continue to talk and just say we will not discuss the wall.

Yes. Yes! You have that right. Candidate Trump made ridiculous promises on the campaign trail, and his low hanging fruit base ate it up, echoing all  the while, “Mexico!” After crowing so loudly before, he is now faced with eating crow, and he’s in conversation with the leader of a foreign nation begging for some political cover. If I were to reword President Trump’s pitch it would come out, “Oh please, please, don’t make me look like a fool. Just go along with this game I’ve been playing, and things will go much nicer for me.” In years past there was respect for the office of President of the United States.

Happily, there’s more. Along the same lines, candidate Trump stirred up an ugly segment of our society, feeding to their fear of foreigners and especially foreigners who come here. Prior to leaving office, President Obama had negotiated an arrangement for the United States to  take some of the refugees who had landed on Australian soil. I’m guessing President Trump figured he could further fuel his base by demonstrating he was behind them and in control, particularly with respect to this matter. In a conversation with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, President Trump sought to set matters straight. Again from The Washington Post, here are excerpts from  the conversation:

President Trump: [After some preliminaries] Well, actually I just called for a total ban on Syria and from many different countries from where there is terror, and extreme vetting for everyone else – and somebody told me yesterday that close to 2,000 people are coming who are really probably troublesome. And I am saying, boy that will make us look awfully bad. Here I am calling for a ban where I am not letting anybody in and we take 2,000 people. Really it looks like 2,000 people that Australia does not want and I do not blame you by the way, but the United States has become like a dumping ground.

Prime Minister Turnbull: [After some preliminaries] Yes, but let me describe what it is. I think it is quite consistent. I think you can comply with it. It is absolutely consistent with your Executive Order so please just hear me out. The obligation is for the United States to look and examine and take up to and only if they so choose – 1,250 to 2,000. Every individual is subject to your vetting. You can decide to take them or to not take them after vetting.

[Further exchange]

President Trump: Malcom [sic], why is this so important? I do not understand. This is going to kill me. I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people and I agree I can vet them, but that puts me in a bad position. It makes me look so bad and I have only been here a week.

 

[More]

Look, I do not know how you got them to sign a deal like this, but that is how they lost the election. They said I had no way to 270 and I got 306. That is why they lost the election, because of stupid deals like this. You have brokered many a stupid deal in business and I respect you, but I guarantee that you broke many a stupid deal. This is a stupid deal. This deal will make me look terrible.

[Closing]

I have no choice to say that about it. Malcom [sic], I am going to say that I have no choice but to honor my predecessor’s deal. I think it is a horrible deal, a disgusting deal that I would have never made. It is an embarrassment to the United States of America and you can say it just the way I said it. I will say it just that way. As far as I am concerned that is enough Malcom [sic]I have had it. I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day. Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous.

It is definitely something we don’t see every day, at least until recently. The President of the United States begging a foreign leader to cover his ass for him, failing badly, souring relations with a key ally. Additionally, it’s interesting to note that President Trump’s version of how these conversations went is at odds with the transcripts obtained by The Washington Post. Considerably.

The conversation with Mr. Turnbull:

Apparently an administration official told the Times reporters that refugees from Australia could include the “next Boston bombers.” The Times also received confirmation of the details of the conversation from an administration official “with direct knowledge of the exchange.”

Prime Minister Turnbull declined further elaboration, including whether the call ended precipitously. He did acknowledge the conversation had been “candid.” The last time I checked, “candid” means “impolite.” He would not say whether President Trump concluded the call by hanging up on him.

I am so embarrassed. Rather, I would be. If only I could stop laughing.

Apparently a half basket full of Trump supporters are not embarrassed by his actions. Rather, they are outraged that the truth is coming out:

By Annabel Scott | August 3, 2017 | 4:12 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) — Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) expressed their strong disapproval of the newest batch of leaks from the White House during a Thursday press briefing on Capitol Hill, calling for the punishment and termination of the people responsible for the leaks and stressing that these people are “disloyal to our government.”

“I think it really is a disservice to the president that this happened,” Sen. Graham said, referencing the leaked transcripts of conversations between President Donald Trump and foreign leaders that were published by the Washington Post early Thursday.

“Can you imagine being president of the United States and having a conversation with a foreign leader and that conversation being divulged to the media?” said Graham.  “It’s just not fair to President Trump.”

The last bit knocks me over. “It’s just not fair to President Trump.” It’s not fair to President Trump for the people to learn what a schlemiel they elected as President? You heard that right. But what are Senators Graham and Corker overlooking? You got it on the first try.

It was not a private conversation. President Trump was talking on the phone to people in foreign countries, and not American citizens at that. President Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Turnbull are within their rights to relate everything that went on in their conversations. And these two senators want to punish Americans for revealing what people in other countries already know? Readers, I think I have found the problem here.

There is going to be more about this. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Buyer’s Remorse

Number 14 in a series

At every opportunity I put up one of these to remind supporters of Donald Trump. To sink the shiv in a bit deeper. To smirk. To gloat. That was before. This is now. The game has run its course. I’m flagged out. My well has run dry. I have nothing left to contribute on the matter. Readers, take the rest of the year off.

Donald Trump has fired Anthony Scaramucci.