Mr. Trump Goes to Washington – by Peter Wehner – NYT

“After a series of meetings and phone calls with high-ranking officials this month, a Republican who deals regularly with the Trump administration confided in me about his frustration. “The dysfunction in this White House just knows no bounds,” he said.

Of the many things people worried about before President Trump took office, it turned out that the main problem was his incompetence rather than his authoritarian tendencies — at least so far.”

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Climate of Complete Certainty – by Brett Stephens – NYT

“Right on the merits. Confident in their methods. Sure of their chances. When Bill Clinton suggested to his wife’s advisers that, considering Brexit, they might be underestimating the strength of the populist tide, the campaign manager, Robby Mook, had a bulletproof answer: The data run counter to your anecdotes.

That detail comes from “Shattered,” Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes’s compulsively readable account of Clinton’s 2016 train wreck. Mook belonged to a new breed of political technologists with little time for retail campaigning and limitless faith in the power of models and algorithms to minimize uncertainty and all but predict the future.”

The comments section was closed, so I wrote a letter to the NYT:
Brett Stephens wrote in his op-ed Climate of Complete Certainty, “Anyone who has read the 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change knows that, while the modest (0.85 degrees Celsius, or about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) warming of the Northern Hemisphere since 1880 is indisputable, as is the human influence on that warming, much else that passes as accepted fact is really a matter of probabilities.”

This is unacceptable nonsense. This is the way Bill O’Reilly writes. O”Reilly states one or two facts, and then a conculsion, not supported by the facts he has stated, and then, does not offer any evidence to support the final, damning conclusion. If this statement is true, why is there not a single example offered to support it. A big bad generality is the tool of a smear artist.

As one commentator wrote correctly, comparing Hillary Clinton taking poling data too seriously, and the public taking climate change science seriously, is a false equivalence.

Stephens analysis of Clinton’s hubris was excellent, but his twisting argument in the sentence above in neither acceptable, nor professional. Almost all science is based on probabilities. That is not a sin, that is because 100% certainty is expensive to prove, even if the concept is easy to embrace. This unsupported trash talk might have been fine at the WSJ, but it is not the standard here at the NYT.

The ‘Fix’ for Net Neutrality That Consumers Don’t Need – by Tim Wu – NYT

“In analyzing the attack on net neutrality, one looks in vain for the problem that needs to be fixed. Net neutrality refers to rules intended to ensure that broadband providers cannot block content or provide faster delivery to companies that pay more. The policy was put in place in the George W. Bush administration, where it enjoyed bipartisan support. In the years since, it has sheltered bloggers, nonprofit organizations like Wikipedia, smaller tech companies, TV and music streamers, and entrepreneurs from being throttled by providers like AT&T and Verizon that own the “pipes.” ”

Rule of thumb. If At&t and Comcast are for it, I’m against it. These jerks think customers are fleecing opportunities.

I recommend a video on youtube by John Oliver last year on this subject.

Here is a comment that I found helpful:

Jerry Xu

UK 1 day ago

Net neutrality is what encourages technological innovation and competition on the open internet.A s the article states, it means that the speed of internet that you pay for is the speed you get for all websites, all the time. How would anyone be opposed to that? Unfortunately, ISPs (internet service providers) such as your Verizons and your at&ts want to be able to get more money out of you and other online websites & companies by charging for the “fast lane” equivalent of internet connections, slowing down & throttling the connections of those who don’t pony up the money. The problem is that this so called “fast lane” of internet connections runs at literally the same speed as internet connections under the Net Neutrality laws. It’s not paying to run faster, it’s paying so you don’t get slowed down.

The point is, should Net Neutrality laws be abolished, ISPs like Comcast & Time Warner will be able to charge more monthly for internet services. So not only will consumer’s be charged the monthly/yearly fee for their internet, but they may be charged more for using certain online services like YouTube and Twitter. This is the internet equivalent of your electric company charging you extra for using it to power your desk fan. The company doesn’t have the right to charge you for what you use it for, only for the service itself. Furthermore, these ISPs most likely own TV & cable services & can dictate what competes & what doesn’t. Killing net neutrality kills the open internet.

The Pond-Skater Presidency – by David Brooks -NYT

“Many of us Trump critics set our outrage level at 11. The Trump threat was virulent, and therefore the response had to be virulent as well.The side benefit was we got to luxuriate in that rarest of political circumstance: a pure contest between right versus wrong. Everything seemed to be in such stark polarities: pluralism versus bigotry, democracy versus fascism, love trumps hate.

Trump’s totalistic menace allowed us to stand deliciously on the side of pure righteousness.The problem is that Trump has now changed and many of his critics refuse to recognize the change. He’s not gotten brighter or humbler, but he’s gotten smaller and more conventional. Many of his critics still react to him every single day at Outrage Level 11, but the Trump threat is at Level 3 or 4.

brandchannel: Wikipedia Founder Aims to Counter Fake News

“Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has stepped to the forefront in the fight against ‘fake news,’ launching a crowdfunded online publication, WikiTribune.Its purpose is to cover a broad range of general issues – politics, science, technology – with each fact-checked by an army of proof readers and ‘beefed up’ when required.”

Source: brandchannel: Wikipedia Founder Aims to Counter Fake News

Good luck. I hope Facebook really takes on this problem in-house. The WikiTribune approach might prove useful, in which case, Facebook will probably copy some of it.

Trump’s Can’t-Do Record – by Gail Collins – NYT

“Well, heck, who said Donald Trump isn’t going to accomplish anything in his first 100 days? All of a sudden there’s a one-page tax plan and a raft of deal-making, while the Senate was bused over to the White House grounds for a briefing on North Korea.

Maybe the president believes that when you can make an entire chamber of Congress ride around like so many tour groups, the world will understand that you’re a can-do kind of guy.”

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Pending Approval at NYT

Gail,
This is a very funny piece, thank you. I can’t get over how the commentators do not reference your piece at all. They are so busy continuing their own personal public blog, that they do not even reference that they are enjoying your readership, and your fount of wit.

One of the better belly laughs: “Everybody knows that Trump wants a can-do record when he hits Day 100 on Saturday. To get there, he appeared to be adopting the garb of Somewhat Normal Republican (SNORE).”

This Isn’t Tax Policy; It’s a Trump-Led Heist – Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“Conservatives emphasize that the official top corporate tax rate in the U.S. is too high, and they have a point. The top rate for American corporations — almost 39 percent, including a 35 percent federal rate and a bit more for the average state rate — is among the highest in the world, according to the Tax Foundation.Yet that’s deeply misleading, because most companies don’t pay that rate. The Government Accountability Office found that two-thirds of active corporations paid no federal tax. Even large, profitable corporations paid an average federal rate of only 14 percent — and Boeing, Verizon, General Electric and Priceline paid no federal income tax over a five-year period, according to Citizens for Tax Justice.

There’ve been many studies showing that the U.S. effective marginal rate for corporations is in the same ballpark as in other industrialized countries (some say it’s a bit lower, others a bit higher).

So, sure, let’s lower the official corporate tax rate while reducing loopholes, but don’t pretend this will create a ton of new jobs.”

President Trump’s Laughable Plan to Cut His Own Taxes – The New York Times

“As a rule, Republican presidents like offering tax cuts, and President Trump is no different. But the skimpy one-page tax proposal his administration released on Wednesday is, by any historical standard, a laughable stunt by a gang of plutocrats looking to enrich themselves at the expense of the country’s future.

Two of Mr. Trump’s top lieutenants — Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, both multimillionaires and former Goldman Sachs bankers — trotted out a plan that would slash taxes for businesses and wealthy families, including Mr. Trump’s, in the vague hope of propelling economic growth. So as to not seem completely venal, they served up a few goodies for the average wage-earning family, among them fewer and lower tax brackets and a higher standard deduction.”

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Pending Approval

What a missed opportunity. I was hoping the new tax plan would include reducing all congress people’s and white house people’s health and other benefits to match the benefits currently allowed to our poorest Americans.
Then we would see repairs to the frayed safety net.

The tax cut plan is a joke, unless it is grounded in a cutting of the swarms of loopholes that benefit businesses. The logic of current conservative economists is that cutting most or all loopholes would allow lowering the corporate tax rate, and the two reforms together could be revenue neutral.

As Rising Seas Erode Shorelines Tasmania Shows What Can Be Lost – The New York Times

“Over the long term, the rise of the sea appears to be accelerating because of runaway growth in greenhouse emissions, and scientists fear much bigger effects this century, perhaps so large they could ultimately force the abandonment of entire coastlines.

Though awareness of the risk to historic sites and natural wonders is growing, the effort to tackle the problem is in its infancy. In most places, discussion and report-writing have yet to give way to concrete action. “We’re a long way from managing this issue well,” said Adam Markham, who is deputy director for climate and energy with the Union of Concerned Scientists, an American group, and who was the lead author of the most recent report on world heritage sites.”

Does he know? Do they Know? – by David Lindsay

4/24/2017

“Do they know?” is the refrain of a famous song by Gian Carlo Menotti in Amahl and the Night Visitors. The crippled boy’s mother laments: Do the rich have any idea how hard it is it be poor and starving? Amahl is a terrific light opera.

Does he know? This is my question for President Trump, after reading Bill McKibben’s insightful op-ed in the New York Times, 4/23/17, titled, “The Planet Doesn’t Have Time for This.”

McKibben writes, “. . .  we only have a short window to deal with the climate crisis or else we forever lose the chance to thwart truly catastrophic heating.” His essay should be required reading for all Americans, especially politicians.

Does he know? Does Donald Trump know that if he slows the fight to mitigate the worst outcomes of global warming , climate change, and increased population growth, there will be billions of people who become climate change refugees. Billions will probably die prematurely due to the dislocations and wars that ensue. Millions of plant and animal species will become extinct. Does he know that this is what he will be remembered for?

Edward O. Wilson, the famous Harvard entomologist, predicts that if we do not change course on carbon dioxide and other green house gas emissions and human population growth, in the next eighty-five years, the earth will probably lose roughly eighty percent of our species diversity. The Washington Post reported that one scientific study estimated there are roughly 8.7 million species on earth. E.O. Wilson predicts then that we will lose roughly 7 million out of 9  million species. Elizabeth Kolbert, in her book, The Sixth Extinction, reports that many scientists claim that even if we do everything possible immediately to mitigate the human causes of climate change, we will still probably lose 50% of the worlds’  species. 7.5 billion humans and their pollution are crowding out many other forms of life.

Does he know? Do they know? Do Donald Trump and his team understand that if these dire outcomes, which they are currently exacerbating, come to pass,  historians will call these men mass killers of humans and other species, and from at least an environmental perspective, more damaging than Adolf Hitler and the Nazis of Germany’s Third Reich.  Trump and his apparently clueless, climate change denying advisors will kill more humans than all of the earth’s famous warlords, dictators, and mass murderers combined. They will exacerbate the Sixth Extinction:  the extinction going on now of 50% to 80% of non-human animal and plant species.  Do they know that this is how they will probably be remembered, if they continue to deny the science and facts that 98% of the scientific community support, and are asking them to pay serious attention to. Does Donald Trump know that this will be his historical legacy?