Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The President Rambles Incoherently on ... Climate Change

These are not the words of an intelligent person. These are the ramblings from the class presentation of the D-student that thinks he’s smarter than the rest of the class, including the teacher but he never studied the topic for the speech because he could just wing it (source: I was a teacher). 

If you actually take the time to learn about the climate and the massive amount of evidence that it is indeed changing and that we, humans are the cause, then you can and will understand climate change. No one can actually look at the empirical data and come to a different conclusion. The deniers depend on buzzwords and confusion to to keep you ignorant. Learn, ask questions and maybe we can still do some good. Be good stewards of the Earth. 

Factual Corrections to the President's Ramblings- 
  • We cleaned our air and water with science based regulations (also addressed the hole in the ozone layer). 
  • Trash in the ocean is an unrelated but actually important topic. 
  • The ten hottest years in record have all been in the like last 12 years. 
  • The universe will probably die a heat death in a few billion years, but again it is completely unrelated to the topic at hand. 
  • People do not actually take the forest floor, but the droughts affecting California are most likely caused by climate change (also most forest management in California is run by the Federal government, of which he is the boss, or private companies).

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Experts vs Dumbasses - Who Should We Listen Too?

One of my new favorite tweets. Should we listen to people speaking out of their butts OR should we listen to people that actually know some stuff? I think its a pretty easy choice!

But to be serious. The people that don't "believe" in climate change are always people that don't understand climate change. They really don't.  It's the same with evolution. People that don't "believe" it, have no real understanding of the concept.  It may work slowly, but the best antidote to climate change denial is education. Sharing the facts, explaining the impact on our environment AND our economy AND our national security.  It's a big deal that we are doing very little about. That can only change by electing legislatures that will actually listen and understand expert testimony.

Friday, November 23, 2018

The Trump Administration hides from Climate Change Report

The US government has come to the conclusion that there is "no convincing alternative explanation" for climate change other than "human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases." This echos the statements of every climate scientist on the planet (97%).  The second volume was released today, as the Trump administration attempts to bury this news in Black Friday shopping, hoping that you won't notice.

The latest volume paints not only a devastating picture for the planet that your children will have to grow up in, but also the lasting damage to the US economy. Billions of dollars will be lost each year, the Southeast US (that's us in NC) will lose 500,000,000 hours of labor due to intense heat - look at the lost productivity from two massive hurricanes just this year.  Farmers facing extreme temperatures, droughts with flash floods will struggle to produce corn and soybeans.  Heat exhaustion can affect dairy production and red tides will affect fishing economies.

We can expect extreme changes to our health care as well.  Warmer temperatures means more mosquitos and ticks - Zika, West Nile. Kids will allergies and asthma will suffer more exacerbations.  The Department of Defense recognizes the risk to national security posed by Climate Change even if the Republican party continues to bury its collective head in the sand.  

The GOP's ignorance of climate change will hurt America - hurt our environment, hurt our economy, hurt our children and hurt our security. Glossing over a well-researched report seems par for the course.  The Republican party will never actually help America or Americans, it will only help its donors.

Capitalism vs Socialism

This meme passed through my Facebook feed before disappearing into the deep abyss. Rather than search for my friends post destroy it on there, I figured I could just answer more broadly here. The question posed, “if capitalism is evil and socialism good why isn’t the migrant caravan headed to Venezuela?” As it asked for a liberal to answer, I shall give it my best shot. 

Capitalism is the best economic system that we have, providing great incentives for effort, ingenuity, and innovation. But we must acknowledge that pure capitalism can seem pretty evil. It can abuse the employees and dupe unsuspecting customers. That is why we have regulations. We regulate restaurants to prevent them from serving dirty food from unsanitary kitchens.  The customer has little view of the back of the store and without those regulations hundreds of people could become sick and die before finding the source.  We regulate polluters ability to destroy the local environment as the consumers have the little ability to make an educated choice about a company's environmental impact. We also prevent monopolies from hijacking the market without competition, forcing out potential rivals, driving up prices and driving down wages. Every Walmart appears to be a shrine to capitalism, which has driven out local mom-and-pop stores and continues to pay criminally low wages as workers must rely on welfare and food stamps.  If Walmart paid their employees a living wage, we could probably cut those budget items in half.  So while capitalism provides the opportunity to growth and new ideas, we must admit that there needs to be constraints.

If you disagree with the previous paragraph, think about the following question: Have you ever felt screwed over by a company as a customer or as an employee? That is why we need regulations.

Likewise, socialism has both good and bad. Generally, dictators use the language of populism to obtain power, hiding their fascist tendencies behind a veil of socialist agendas. If you immediately express your contempt for socialism, I have some more questions for you to consider.  Do you respect firefighters and police officers? We can agree that they are a social good, paid for by tax dollars instead of dues. Are you expecting to receive Social security and Medicare? Also examples of successful socialist programs. You pay taxes through out your life and receive the benefit later on. Those are all socialist programs even if you don't want to believe it. 

The meme that I saw [all memes really], lacks the subtlety of modern life. To simply say that capitalism or socialism is always good or always bad misses the nuance. The people that share this picture on Facebook always point to Venezuela and conveniently forget the balance of capitalism and socialism that we have here in the United States.  It's the balance between these two economic systems which has made America great, propelling us to being the world's great superpower.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Fiction vs Reality

The West Wing, Season 3, Episode 3 - Ways and Means
The subpoenas are handed out in the hearing over Bartlet's concealment of his multiple sclerosis. The special prosecutor, Clement Rollins (Pryor), appears to be both fair and responsible, but C.J. believes the White House will be better served in the public eye if investigated by a partisan agent. She therefore decides—against the strong objections of White House counsel Oliver Babish—to present Rollins as an ally of the administration, thereby forcing Congress to take control over the investigation. --from Wikipedia
The idea was that the Special Prosecutor was too well respected and expected to do a good job, that sending the investigation to the House would turn a legitimate fact-finding investigation into an all out partisan brawl which could be defeated. Sounds eerily familiar to what happening now.

Pro-Choice is the Only Choice

This one might get difficult, but let’s give it a try. If you want a society with fewer abortions, your only choice is to vote for Democrats. That is the only party with a platform that will actually reduce the number of abortions - 

  • access to birth control
  • comprehensive sex education
  • expanding access to health care
  • affordable education
  • early childcare/welfare/food stamps

The Republican answer is to simply ban the medical practice, which doesn’t prevent abortions but makes them less safe for the mothers. Outlawing abortions also fails to acknowledge the instances in which abortions are a medical necessity or the least bad of two choices. It’s not a good choice, but is one that many hopeful mothers are forced to make - when the genetic or ultrasound tests show that the fetus will not survive the pregnancy or the birth. It is a terrible decision but one that a mother must make with her physician.  The Republicans insert themselves between a women and here OB/GYN with unnecessary testing and sometimes force the physician to lie. 

I understand that people see this as a black and white issue, but as with most things in life, the practice is quite gray. There are legitimate, medical reasons for abortions or induced miscarriages, and they are all sad and terrible. But the answer isn’t to make the women criminals or punish the physicians. The answer is to make the practice an unnecessary as possible and that is where Democratic policies win the argument. 

Midterms are Over!

The Midterms are over! No more political ads for about 18 months. The Democrats scored a big victory last night taking back control of the House of Representatives. In fact, Democratic candidates received about 4 million more votes than the Republican candidates (about 9 points overall). That is a strong rebuke of Trump and his politics in Urban and Suburban districts. Democrats must show again what responsible leadership looks like. While I am not a member of the House and the Democratic leadership, I think their first priorities should be as follows:
  1. Governmental Accountability and Ethics Reform - strong legislation to hold members and appointees to task for abusing the public trust.
  2. New Voting Rights Legislation - improve ballot network security, require paper trails, automatic audits of at least 10% of precincts, automatic recounts at 1% difference, ban with penalties misinformation about election details, penalties for voter suppress (like only putting 3 machines or broken machines in a majority-black precinct), penalties for machines than miscount votes (punish the manufacturer), prevent voter purges, ban robocalls, automatic voter registration at 18, and other good ideas.
  3. Others - Reinstate Net Neutrality, strength protections for pre-existing conditions, replace cost-sharing reductions to lower premiums, and I am sure that I am forgetting some major items.

Most importantly, Democrats will take over the leadership of Congressional Committees. No longer will the abuses of the Trump administration be covered up by the Legislative branch. There are certain things that should be investigated - like the response to Puerto Rico or the abuse against migrant children by taking them from their families. Let Mueller do his job and wait for his report. He already has a successful list of convictions, pleas and indictments.

Trump makes a move on Mueller

Whelp, it happened. President Trump has fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump seemed to only have 3 problems with Sessions.

  1. His Southern Accent (which he deems stupid)
  2. He graduated from the University of Alabama (which he deems inferior)
  3. He recused himself from the Investigation in Russian Interference in 2016 (which he wanted the AG to protect him from, but why do you need protection if you did nothing wrong).
Now, don't get me wrong, I strongly dislike Jeff Sessions. I have no doubt that he will burn in Hell for all of eternity for his treatment of blacks, Hispanics and the LGBT community. But Sessions's removal, also effectively fired Rod Rosenstein from overseeing the Mueller Investigation. In the normal order of business, the deputy AG becomes AG. But that doesn't accomplish what Trump wants to accomplish.
Instead he installs his own protector as AG to take the investigation from the DAG. This is it. This is the ballgame. You cannot say that you believe in the Rule of Law, if the President is above the law. Even if the President had done nothing wrong, curtailing an investigation to protect your friends and your family is still obstruction. Even using your Constitutional powers for corrupt intent is abuse of those powers.
Suppose you are a Trump supporter, imagine for 5 seconds that President Obama or a President Clinton had made moves to impede the progress of an investigation into themselves or their friends. You should act now the you would act if that had occurred.