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Trump goes full Trump on energy

Trump goes full Trump on energy

By on May 26, 2016Share

For all the hype surrounding Donald Trump’s energy policy speech in the oil town of Bismarck, N.D., there was, shall we say, a lot of hot air.

Here were some of his more memorable “thoughts” on energy, both from his press conference before the speech and from the speech itself.

On the Paris Agreement: “This agreement gives foreign bureaucrats control over how much energy we use right here in America … We’re going to cancel the Paris climate agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs. We’ve got big problems folks and can’t send our money all over the world.” Except Trump can’t actually cancel the Paris Agreement.

On real environmental issues: “From an environmental standpoint, my priorities are clean air and clean water.”  Protecting air and water will be a challenge without the Environmental Protection Agency.

On “phony” environmental issues: “A Trump administration will focus on real environmental challenges, not the phony ones we’ve been looking at.” And by “phony ones,” he means that whole climate change thing.

On Keystone XL: “I want the Keystone pipeline, but the people of the United States should be given a piece, a significant piece, of the profits. … I’m saying yes, we will absolutely approve it, I want it built, but I want a piece of the profits, because we’re making it possible for it to happen through eminent domain and other things.” Trump has a complicated relationship with eminent domain.

On the Clean Power Plan: “How stupid is that?”

On energy independence: “We will make so much money from energy that we will start to pay down our $19 trillion in debt and lower taxes and take care of our Social Security and Medicare.” There’s no such thing as energy independence. Enough said.

On his first 100 days: “We’re going to save the coal industry.”

On the death of coal: “The market forces are going to do whatever they do. All I’m going to do is free up the coal. … The market force is a beautiful force.” In fact, the free market is what’s killing coal.

On miners: “I asked a couple of [coal miners], “Why don’t you go into some other profession?” and they said, “We love going after coal.” Except when they’re suffering from black lung.

On fracking: “You [knock out fracking], and you’re going to be back in the Middle East.” What does happen if the U.S. bans fracking?

On solar: “I know a lot about solar. … I’ve gone solar on occasion.”

On wind power: “Wind is killing all of the eagles.” Trump has strong opinions on wind.

On renewable energy more broadly: “The problem with solar is it’s very expensive … Wind is very expensive … Despite that, I am into all types of energy.” That was true if we’re talking about, say, 1999. Wind and solar are getting cheaper all the time in 2016.

On fracking: “Hillary is going to ban fracking. … I will do the opposite.” Clinton might beg to differ.

On special interests: “I’m prepared to kick the special interests out of Washington DC.” He says, without irony, at a special-interest conference for the oil industry.


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Trump goes full Trump on energy

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Bill Clinton Is Right: Storyline Reporting Has Poisoned the Political Press

Mother Jones

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Today brings a remarkable column from the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza. It’s about the Clinton family’s adversarial relationship with the press:

Put simply: Neither Hillary nor Bill Clinton likes the media or, increasingly, sees any positive use for them.

“If a policymaker is a political leader and is covered primarily by the political press, there is a craving that borders on addictive to have a storyline,” Bill Clinton said in a speech at Georgetown University back in April. “And then once people settle on the storyline, there is a craving that borders on blindness to shoehorn every fact, every development, every thing that happens into the story line, even if it’s not the story.”

That’s an interesting comment from Bill Clinton. Is it true? Well, check this out from the start of Cillizza’s column:

Amy Chozick is the reporter tasked with covering the Clintons — and the runup to the now-almost-inevitable Hillary Clinton presidential bid — for the New York Times. Sounds like a plum gig, right? Until, that is, a press aide for the Clinton Global Initiative follows you into the bathroom.

Chozick describes a “friendly 20-something press aide who the Clinton Global Initiative tasked with escorting me to the restroom,” adding: “She waited outside the stall in the ladies’ room at the Sheraton Hotel, where the conference is held each year.”

Yes, this may be an extreme example. And, yes, the press strictures at the Clinton Global Initiative are the stuff of legend. But, the episode also reflects the dark and, frankly, paranoid view the Clintons have toward the national media. Put simply: Neither Hillary nor Bill Clinton likes the media or, increasingly, sees any positive use for them.

Here’s what makes this fascinating. If you click the link and read Chozick’s piece, you’ll learn that every reporter at the CGI is “cloistered in a basement at the Sheraton” and that an escort is required wherever they go, “lest one of us with our yellow press badges wind up somewhere where attendants with an esteemed blue badge are milling around.” It’s entirely fair to argue that this is absurdly restrictive. It’s not fair to imply that this is special treatment that Chozick got because she’s the beat reporter covering the Clintons. Every other reporter at the event got the same treatment.

But that’s what Cillizza did. In other words, he had already settled on a storyline, so he shoehorned the Chozick anecdote into his column to support that storyline. Which was exactly Clinton’s complaint in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t actually have any doubt that the Clintons do, in fact, have a pretty tortured relationship with the press. After the way the press treated them in the 90s, it would be remarkable if they didn’t. It might even be “dark and paranoid.” That wouldn’t surprise me too much either.

Nonetheless, I wish Cillizza would at least try to analyze his own tribe’s behavior with the same care that he analyzes the Clintons’. In any fair reading, the press has legitimate grievances about its treatment by the Clintons, but the Clintons have some legitimate grievances about the obsessive shiny-toy-feeding-frenzy nature of modern political press coverage too. Unfortunately, all Cillizza manages to say about the hostile atmosphere of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign is that reporters weren’t “entirely innocent in the whole thing.”

Nobody should take this as a defense of the Clintons. High-profile politicians have always gotten klieg-light treatment, and they have to be able to handle it. At the same time, there ought to be at least a few mainstream reporters who also recognize some of the pathologies on their own side—those specific to the Clintons as well as those that affect presidential candidates of all stripes. How about an honest appraisal—complete with biting anecdotes—of how the political press has evolved over the past few decades and how storyline reporting has poisoned practically everything they do?


Bill Clinton Is Right: Storyline Reporting Has Poisoned the Political Press

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Dear Donald Trump: Winter Does Not Disprove Global Warming


Weather isn’t climate, people. A Bostonian trudges by Government Center as Winter Storm Hercules’s snows begin. Nicolaus Czarnecki/METRO US/ZUMA An intense blizzard, appropriately named Hercules, is about to blanket the Northeast. Antarctic ice locked in a Russian ship containing a team of scientists—en route, no less, to do climate research. Record low temperatures have been seen in parts of the US, and in Winnipeg, temperatures on December 31 were as cold as temperatures on…Mars. So as is their seasonal wont, here come the climate skeptics. Exhibit A: This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2014 And Trump isn’t the only one. A similar reaction came from Congressman John Fleming, a Louisiana Republican: “Global warming” isn’t so warm these days. — John Fleming (@RepFleming) January 2, 2014 And’s Erick Erickson also piled on, blending global warming dismissal with religion: The difference between people who believe in the 2nd coming of Jesus and those who believe in global warming is that Jesus will return. — Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) January 2, 2014 Meanwhile, the front page of the Drudge Report listed a variety of cold weather news items under the heading, “Global Warming Intensifies…” Drudge Report/Climate Desk Rush Limbaugh also weighed in, noting that the Green Bay Packers may face San Francisco in subzero temperatures at home this weekend: LIMBAUGH: I would love to see Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Hillary sitting outside on the 50 yard line of Green Bay the whole game, and then afterwards do a presentation for us all on global warming. Sit there the whole game outside. And last but not least, Fox Business‘s Stuart Varney used the Antarctic ice story to claim that “we’re looking at global cooling, forget this global warming.” All of this is all wrong in ways that have all been explained before. So just a few brief observations: Statements about climate trends must be based on, er, trends. Not individual events or occurrences. Weather is not climate, and anecdotes are not statistics. Global warming is actually expected to increase “heavy precipitation in winter storms,” and for the northern hemisphere, there is evidence that these storms are already more frequent and intense, according to the draft US National Climate Assessment. Antarctica is a very cold place. But global warming is affecting it as predicted: Antarctica is losing ice overall, according to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. However, sea ice is a different matter than land-based or glacial ice. Antarctic sea ice is increasing, and moreover, the reason for this may be climate change! (For more, read here.) Finally, just one last thing. When it’s winter on Earth, it’s also summer on Earth…somewhere else. Thus, allow us to counter anecdotal evidence about cold weather with more anecdotal evidence: It’s blazing hot in Australia, with temperatures, in some regions, set to possibly soar above 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the coming days.

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Dear Donald Trump: Winter Does Not Disprove Global Warming

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Dear Donald Trump: Winter Does Not Disprove Global Warming

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Republicans Want to Torpedo the Insurance You Like Far More Than Obamacare Ever Will

Mother Jones

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Jon Chait notes today that to the extent conservatives have any kind of plan to replace Obamacare, their plans are generally far more disruptive to far more people. It wouldn’t just be one or two million people who have their plans canceled or suffer from rate shock, it would be tens of millions who would be forced to give up coverage they like. What’s more, contrary to a general preference for comprehensive coverage, Republicans almost universally prefer plans that dump huge amounts of risk on individuals:

The right’s dilemma grows more acute when you move from the general to the particular. Their argument is that Obama forces healthy people to pay higher premiums to pay for a bunch of crap they don’t want or need. Karl Rove argues in his Wall Street Journal column that Obamacare forces people to pay for “expensive and often unnecessary provisions.” And what provisions are these? Where is the medical equivalent of Bridge to Nowhere or scientific research on animals that Republicans love to mock? The problem turns out to be a requirement that “every policy offer a wide range of benefits including mental health and addiction treatment, and maternity care (even for single men or women past childbearing age), and cover 100% of the cost of an array of preventive services.”

This is a morally bizarre conception of what health insurance means. Most of us don’t need mental-health or addiction treatment. Some of us do. Some of us who don’t currently need mental-health treatment might potentially need it one day. You could have a system in which only people who need mental-health treatment pay for mental-health insurance, but then it wouldn’t be insurance anymore. It would be a system in which you pay for a doctor out of pocket.

I’ve identified the new “welfare mothers.” Are you ready? Mothers.

The whole point of insurance is to pool risk because you don’t know what kind of problems you might have in the future. Would it be better to allow people to choose from a menu of things they want individually, rather than simply covering everyone for everything and then spreading the cost around? That’s surely a matter of opinion, but most Americans don’t like the idea. They don’t like it substantively because it obviously promotes free riding, and they don’t like it emotionally because it just doesn’t smell right. When we sign up for employer coverage—by far the most popular kind of health coverage outside of Medicare—we all understand that we’re joining a risk pool. I’m paying for someone else’s maternity coverage. They’re paying for my blood pressure meds. We’re all paying for the possibility of some kind of catastrophic bout of cancer that we all dearly hope will be someone else’s problem. What’s more, we all understand that the benefits of employer health care are immensely unequal. A 50-year-old head of household receives benefits that are probably worth about $20,000 or so. A healthy 25-year-old single worker receives benefits worth about $4,000. Is that unfair? I wouldn’t say so, and Americans have voted with their feet for years in favor of this kind of system.

In any case, as Chait says, the most bizarre part of the current Republican screamfest is their objection to men being forced to pay for maternity coverage. Seriously? They think that the societal cost of carrying on the species should be borne solely by women aged 18-40? Young women should pay the full freight and the rest of us should give them a vote of thanks but otherwise tell them they’re on their own? That’s morally contemptuous, and I’m pretty sure that most of us understand that.

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Republicans Want to Torpedo the Insurance You Like Far More Than Obamacare Ever Will

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How to clean a lake with an unstoppable oil spill: Drain the lake

How to clean a lake with an unstoppable oil spill: Drain the lake

Photograph obtained by the

Toronto Star

Oil polluting the ground at Cold Lake in Alberta.

We told you in July that tar-sands oil had been leaking into the Canadian wilderness from a drilling site for well over a month — and that nobody knew how to stanch the flow.

It would be nice to update you on how that leak was finally fixed. No such luck: The oil is still leaking.

More than 12,000 barrels of leaked bitumen has been mopped up, but at least 100 animals have died at the Canadian Natural Resources’ Primrose oil extraction site. So much bitumen has flowed into a 131-acre lake that Alberta’s environment department has ordered the company to drain it and dredge it before the waterbody freezes over. From Reuters:

The leak, one of four on the sprawling project site, sprung up from an oil sands reserve produced by a process that melts bitumen with high-pressure steam so that it can be moved and processed. The leak has yet to be stopped, and has become the latest focus for environmentalists concerned about the impact oil sands production.

“The Alberta government should, at a minimum, put a hold on approving new underground tar sands operations until we understand how these leaks are happening and if other sites could run into similar problems,” Mike Hudema, a climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace Canada, said in a statement.

The order says the company must pump the water from the area of the lake that is in the vicinity of leak into the third of the lake where it can be contained by a road that cuts across the water body. Then the cleanup of the spill site can be completed.

The drill-happy province says the massive spill has not affected water quality in the lake. That’s wonderful news, because it means that this is a lake visited by dragon-slaying unicorns that lap up tar and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, carrying them to another planet where they won’t do any harm. Also, magic is real.

Canadian Natural told to drain Alberta lake due to oil sands leak, Reuters

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants:

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How to clean a lake with an unstoppable oil spill: Drain the lake

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Why Bother Debunking Climate Change Deniers?

Mother Jones

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This story first appeared on the Slate website and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

I recently posted yet another debunking of a climate change denial post. The claims made by the writer, David Rose, were not just flatly wrong, but actually ridiculous. He quoted scientist Myles Allen grossly out of context (confirmed by Allen himself), making it seems as if Allen were saying something he wasn’t. He compared two measurements that were not at all comparable, making it seem like other scientists didn’t know what they were doing. And he made a pile of other easily disproven statements that didn’t come within a glancing blow of reality.

I’ll admit: It’s no fun writing about this kind of thing. I hate it. I hate having to do it. I’d much rather be writing about galaxies and Saturn and supernovae, and it’s depressing to wake up in the morning and see yet another nonsensical article that I know will get repeated endlessly in the deny-o-sphere echo chamber.

But that’s precisely why I have to slog through it. The more people who can show these claims for what they are—wrong, willfully or otherwise—the better.

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Why Bother Debunking Climate Change Deniers?

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Immigration Picture Exactly the Same Today as It’s Always Been

Mother Jones

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I need some help with Drudge-ology. He’s currently blaring the headline on the right, based on this story in The Hill:

Forty to 50 House Republicans will support immigration reform, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) predicted Thursday. Gutiérrez said many of the Republicans supportive of immigration reform don’t want to be identified, but he insisted they would support comprehensive immigration reform.

Um, who cares? Everyone either already knows or already suspects this is true. The key line in this story is the very last one:

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said he will only bring an immigration bill to the House floor if it is supported by a majority of his conference.

Last I checked, 40 or 50 is not a majority of 240. So why is Drudge so excited about this? Is there something going on in conservo-land that I haven’t kept up with? What’s the deal?

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Immigration Picture Exactly the Same Today as It’s Always Been

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Friday Cat Blogging – 19 July 2013

Mother Jones

This is Domino totally zoned out on a hot afternoon earlier this week. All that’s missing is the chalk outline.

But despite its apparent lack of excitement, this picture shows off something that you normally don’t get a chance to see. In most photos, Domino looks like a black cat. But in fact, only the tip of her fur is black. Underneath it’s white. You can see that a bit in this picture because she’s so stretched out. It makes her look a little mangy, but actually her fur is quite glossy and lovely at the moment. She’s in pretty high spirits these days.

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Friday Cat Blogging – 19 July 2013

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NSA Yanks Fact Sheet Containing Dubious Information About PRISM

Mother Jones

In the wake of revelations from intelligence contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden that the National Security Agency has collected massive amounts of phone and internet data on millions of Americans, the NSA posted a fact sheet online about what it was and wasn’t doing. Titled “Section 702,” the fact sheet outlined “Procedures for Targeting Certain Persons Outside the United States Other Than United States Persons” under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It was meant to assuage fears that the NSA was breaking the law with its far-reaching PRISM operation.

But on Monday, two US senators called out the NSA for the contents of the fact sheet, saying that the agency was misleading the public about what it was really doing with the program. Then, on Tuesday, the fact sheet mysteriously disappeared from the NSA’s website. (Instead, you can see it here.)

“We were disappointed to see that this fact sheet contains an inaccurate statement about how the section 702 authority has been interpreted by the U.S. government,” Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) wrote in an open letter to NSA’s director, General Keith Alexander. “In our judgment this inaccuracy is significant, as it portrays protections for Americans’ privacy as being significantly stronger than they actually are.”

They didn’t get specific, instead identifying the inaccuracy in a classified attachment to the letter. And they underscored that the NSA is facing a credibility problem. “As you have seen, when the NSA makes inaccurate statements about government surveillance and fails to correct the public record, it can decrease public confidence in the NSA’s openness and its commitment to protecting Americans’ constitutional rights,” they wrote.

The letter also says the NSA is “somewhat misleading” people when it says that any “inadvertently acquired communication of or concerning a US person must be promptly destroyed if it is neither relevant to the authorized purpose nor evidence of a crime.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the URL for the NSA’s posted fact sheet led to this:

The NSA didn’t reply to questions from Mother Jones about when and why the document was taken off the site, or about the issues brought up by Wyden and Udall. Instead, it emailed this cryptic statement in response:

“Given the intense interest from the media, the public, and Congress, we believe the precision of the source document (the statute) is the best possible representation of applicable authorities,” said NSA spokeswoman Judith Emmel.

UPDATE: The NSA responded to Wyden and Udall Tuesday, saying that “the fact sheet … could have more precisely described the requirements for collection under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act” and pointing out several limitations to the law, all beginning with the phrase “may not intentionally” (full letter below). Considering that Wyden and Udall’s basis for saying the NSA had made inaccurate statements in the original fact-sheet is classified, it’s hard to know what the NSA is responding to in the June 25 letter.

Trevor Timm, a digital rights analyst with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the senators’ letter points to the fundamental problem with excessive secrecy.

“This is a perfect example of why this secrecy is so bad for the country, that the NSA or director of national intelligence or executive branch can issue misleading statements or outright falsehoods and it’s impossible for the American people to fact-check them,” Timm said. “If it wasn’t for Ron Wyden or Mark Udall, the NSA possibly could have kept this up forever.”

Here’s the full letter:

Wyden and Udall Letter to General Alexander on NSA’s Section 702 Fact Sheet Inaccuracy

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Ron Wyden and Mark Udall NSA letter (PDF)

Ron Wyden and Mark Udall NSA letter (Text)

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NSA Wyden Udall Response June 25 (PDF)

NSA Wyden Udall Response June 25 (Text)

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NSA Yanks Fact Sheet Containing Dubious Information About PRISM

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Edward Blum Finally Wins His Long War on the Voting Rights Act

Mother Jones

For the past twenty years, conservative operative Edward Blum has played a crucial behind-the-scenes role in America’s most contentious court fights: He identifies people who will make compelling plaintiffs; pairs them with lawyers who are willing to sue to upend affirmative action, voting-rights laws, and other race-conscious policies; and raises money to help cover the legal fees.

As Mother Jones reported last year, Blum, a 61-year-old former stockbroker, was deeply involved in several of the most controversial cases before the Supreme Court this term. He engineered Fisher v. University of Texas, a case challenging affirmative action in college admissions that the Supreme Court sent back to a lower court for further consideration on Monday. But the greatest victory in Blum’s long career came Tuesday morning, when the Supreme Court used Shelby County v. Holder, a case Blum helped launch and fund, to strike down Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. After decades in the legal wilderness, it looks like Blum finally has his big win.

Blum’s decades-long crusade started after he ran for Congress in Houston. Blum lost, but was later able to prove the district he ran in had been gerrymandered along racial lines. Since then, he’s launched over a dozen cases, building recruiting websites, cold-calling local officials, and convincing his picks to become the face for ending race-based protections. “The first hurdle is to seek out plaintiffs who are of, in my opinion, the right philosophy, and have no ax to grind. Sensitive to the fact that there are individuals and organizations who believe that these laws should stay in place,” Blum told NBC News. “You cannot seek out people who are bigots or small-minded.” A onetime Democrat converted by Reagan and Commentary magazine, Blum has argued that his challenges are efforts to promote “colorblind” policies, asserting that the current laws are unfair to whites and stigmatize minorities.

Through his one-man legal defense fund, the Project on Fair Representation, Blum has corralled financial backing to keep mustering judicial challenges from conservative allies, running funds through his nonprofit, Donors Trust. The tactic at which he excels, finding plaintiffs that can carry an issue to the highest court, was pioneered by groups like the NAACP, and has been long used by liberals and conservatives alike.

Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision struck down the formula that determines which parts of the country deserve extra federal scrutiny of their voting laws. But if Blum’s his past record is any indication, this victory will only fuel his fire. As Al Vera—the plaintiff in Blum’s 1996 case arguing that race-based gerrymandering violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendmentonce said, Blum is “like a bulldog once he attaches onto an issue he believes in.”

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Edward Blum Finally Wins His Long War on the Voting Rights Act

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