Friday, May 12, 2017
The president's latest flurry of self-incriminating behavior begs the question: what is the remedy for the country when its president is clearly not in control of himself, has committed prima facie illegal actions and none of his so-called advisors, spokespeople and legal representatives seem to have any ability to provide him guidance or indeed to even anticipate his next unhinged act?
There has been talk - almost from the beginning of our current "long national nightmare"- about the possibility of the vice president, senior advisors and congressional leaders invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump. But removal by Trump's own people was never really likely, since Trump's character deficits were glaringly apparent even before the election and none of these people seemed inclined to oppose him then, much less remove him.
What stops seemingly sane government officials from acting?
The reason, the argument goes, is that the Republicans and Trump's inner cabal will continue to back him until they get their own agenda through -- which seems to be to repeal the ACA in order to claw back funds to then finance a huge tax cut to the wealthiest 1%.
Here's the thing, though. In the current chaos, it isn't likely that there will be much legislative activity, and certainly not of the type the Koch brothers et al had in mind when they pinned their expectations on Trump/Pence. In fact, as the dripping of investigative fire crackers increases to a tsunami of bombshells, the likelihood increases of not only failure to pass the Republican agenda but the collapse of public support for Republican in the House and Senate.
The strangest thing of all is that this could all be avoided by the Republicans! The argument that Trump and only Trump is necessary to get the massive wealth distribution legislation passed just doesn't make sense. Mike Pence is at least as committed to that agenda as his reluctant running mate, having been approved as early as 2014 by the Koch brothers, Grover Norquist and others in the billionaire elite.
They don't need Trump anymore now that his emotionally manipulative, hate-filled and sadly effective campaign has already delivered all three branches of government into their hands. It would be ever so simple to pretend to wake up and -- acting appropriately shocked, dismayed and kept in the dark - deliver the knock out blow to Trump and his band of merciless men. They could point to Trump and his associates as the source of all the nation's ills right now and claim to restore calm and dignity to the office and get government back on track. They could renenergize the Republicans in the House and Senate and answer Paul Ryan's and Mitch McConnell's prayers.
What's stopping them?
To be continued.
Saturday, April 29, 2017
|A rite of spring - the calving of an iceberg|
I'm from Newfoundland, known not only as the place where the events portrayed in the hit musical Come From Away take place, but also one of the best places on earth to view an annual parade of icebergs.
Newfoundland's icebergs "calve" off the glaciers on the west coast of Greenland. They break off in late winter/early spring, and make their way via the Labrador current out into the north Atlantic ocean. Then, they hug the coastline of the island of Newfoundland, gradually losing mass as they enter warmer waters below the 49th parallel until they melt entirely away - usually at some point just south of the Grand Banks.
Historically, the number of ice bergs that can be found in the northwestern Atlantic varies from year to year. In an average year, the peak of iceberg season (usually late May) would see a few hundred ice bergs drifting in the transatlantic shipping lanes. As of the first week of April, 2017, more than 400 ice bergs had already been counted in the area. The average for early April is about 80 bergs.
A warning by USCG ice patrol Commander Gabrielle McGrath notes that, early this month, three icebergs were found outside the boundaries of the area the Coast Guard had advised mariners to avoid and she is predicting a fourth consecutive “extreme ice season” with over 600 icebergs in the shipping lanes during the peak of the 2017 season.
John Konrad, gCaptain, April 19, 2017.
People who deny the reality of global climate change can spew their pseudo-science but Newfoundlanders know this is not normal. The effects of all that sea ice and the hugely increased number of ice bergs are numerous and not limited to just the ice. The increased ice keeps the ocean temperature offshore colder later into the year, too. Apart from a longer colder spring (and in Newfoundland, spring is an often miserable, foggy, wet, cold season), the colder ocean temperature means that the annual capelin spawning season has been pushed later and later into the summer. The capelin roll that used to happen in early June every year, is now occurring in mid July and even as late as early August. Whales travel to Newfoundland in summer to feed on the capelin and it is not yet known how this altered capelin season may effect the whales migratory habits and wellbeing.
Global warming is the cause of many similar cascading effects around the planet. The effects of global climate change on ice, capelin and whales are just the tip of the iceberg regarding how planetary ecosystems may be disrupted by the changes. Some we already can predict and it is possible that there will be many more effects that we cannot yet foresee.
Some people, like William Happer, you'd think would be able to grasp science - being a physicist and all -but no. Maybe, since his discipline is physics and not climate science, the professor simply cannot comprehend the overwhelming conclusions of the vast majority of climate scientists that global climate change is real and it is being accelerated by human activity.
Then again, his penchant for comparing the work of climatologists to Nazis (WTF!) throws up a vaguely familiar flag. Happer has been vying for a position in the Trump administration. So, there's that to consider.
The world is a complex ecosystem and sometimes we just need someone to explain things in plain language to help make sense of things. Enter Bill Nye, the science guy! Nye is well-known for making science fun and interesting to kids, so he is probably the best possible person to explain the danger of ignoring climate change to the ignorant - and the willfully ignorant - in the Republican party.
"Sir, with some respect, I encourage you to cut this out..."
Bill Nye to William Clapper
A mechanical engineer, Bill seems to be about as qualified to speak about climate science as Happer the physicist. More trustworthy, too, since Nye is not vying for a job in a corrupt, science-denying administration and has little to gain by it. Of course, a couple of minutes of air time and even less for each member of the panel, didn't give Bill much time to get a message across about the science of global warming, so he used his time in an even better way: to school Happer on his willful ignorance and misleading of the public, and to draw attention to the false equivalency that various media perpetuate in their eagerness to appear to be "even-handed".
Check it out: