Rep. Trey Gowdy (R – South Carolina) announced his resignation today.
Pity. He was just about to crack the Benghazi case.

Folks may not know that Gowdy won his first primary victory against Bob Inglis, a very conservative, but unfortunately fact based patriot who ran into the Tea Party buzz saw when he acknowledged that climate change was man-made.

Let’s leave aside the questions about why so many republicans are deserting the ship right at this critical moment.

Question: With Gowdy gone, will Inglis try to regain his old seat?

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Having missed the memo, Oil giants continue what Trump, in his State of the Union, cluelessly called  “…the war on American energy.”


Last March, Royal Dutch Shell said it was selling most of its stake in Canada’s oil sands, a vast project that has extracted millions of barrels of sticky, gooey hydrocarbons from the ground in a process that resembles mining more than drilling. The oil and gas giant announced that it was unloading its oil-sands assets, for $7.25 billion, so that it could double down on businesses “where we have global scale and a competitive advantage.”

Left unsaid was a deeper reason for the divestiture. Months of deliberations behind closed doors at Shell headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, had led the top brass at the world’s largest non-state-owned oil company by sales to conclude that the energy industry was changing fundamentally—in a way that could turn the profitable oil-sands operation into a liability.

Internal studies by a group of analysts within Shell known as the “scenarios” team had concluded that global demand for oil might peak in as little as a decade—essentially tomorrow in an industry that plans in quarter-century increments. Hastening the peak was an onslaught of increasingly competitive fossil-fuel alternatives, from solar and wind power to electric cars, whose prices were dropping far faster than Shell executives had expected. When the oil-demand peak came, Shell believed, petroleum prices might begin a slow slide, dipping too low to cover the costs of oil-sands production.

Below, Shell CEO Ben Van Burden tells us his next car will be “of course” be electric.

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Trailer: The First Purge

January 31, 2018


WASHINGTON—You may have missed it, but two of the government’s most influential eunuchs came out in public on Tuesday. They sang their songs in a lovely soprano voice. There was hardly a dollop of spittle left to lick when they were done. First up was Speaker Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin who had a bit of a meltdown at his daily press conference when the subject of the president*’s attempt to demolish the FBI came up. From The Hill:

“Let it all out, get it all out there. Cleanse the organization,” Ryan said, according to Fox. “I think we should disclose all this stuff. It’s the best disinfectant. Accountability, transparency — for the sake of the reputation of our institutions,” he added. Ryan reportedly made the remarks at a largely off-the-record session with anchors and reporters ahead of President Trump‘s State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Ryan went on the record to address the release of the House Intelligence Committee memo.

“Cleanse”? Is he out of his mind? Does he have any idea what that word means in the history of the last century? And “cleanse” the FBI of what, precisely? Agents who know the truth about the corrupt old man who has Ryan’s balls on the mantelpiece at Mar-A-Lago? Agents who can draw into sharp relief all the damage that Ryan is willing to force the republic to endure so his donor class can suck up even more the nation’s wealth? You can put Paul Ryan’s essential patriotism in a shotglass and have more than enough room for the whiskey. He’s the biggest fake in the history of the Congress, and that’s saying something.



They can’t help themselves.


The Trump administration’s top public health official bought shares in a tobacco company one month into her leadership of the agency charged with reducing tobacco use — the leading cause of preventable disease and death and an issue she had long championed.

The stock was one of about a dozen new investments that Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, made after she took over the agency’s top job, according to documents obtained by POLITICO. Fitzgerald has since come under congressional scrutiny for slow walking divestment from older holdings that government officials said posed potential conflicts of interest.

Update: Brenda Fitzgerald has resigned today following publication of this story by Politico.

Buying shares of tobacco companies raises even more flags than Fitzgerald’s trading in drug and food companies because it stands in such stark contrast to the CDC’s mission to persuade smokers to quit and keep children from becoming addicted. Critics say her trading behavior broke with ethical norms for public health officials and was, at best, sloppy. At worst, they say, it was legally problematic if she didn’t recuse herself from government activities that could have affected her investments.

“You don’t buy tobacco stocks when you are the head of the CDC. It’s ridiculous; it gives a terrible appearance,” said Richard Painter, who served as George W. Bush’s chief ethics lawyer from 2005 to 2007. He described the move as “tone deaf,” given the CDC’s role in leading anti-smoking efforts.

Even if Fitzgerald, a medical doctor and former Georgia Department of Public Health commissioner, met all of the legal requirements, “it stinks to high heaven,” Painter said.

I’ve profiled many times the intertwined history of tobacco denial and climate denial.

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Trump’s shout-out to “clean coal” in the State of the Union address bore little relationship to the reality that continues to play out in the coal fields.
It’s easy to say, “serves ’em right, they voted for a swindler, and they’re being swindled”.
In fact, I’ll be honest and say, that’s my attitude right now, not just toward coal miners, but anyone who debased themselves, and betrayed the country, by voting for Trump.

There is another perspective.

Huffington Post:

Even before the US Senate recently confirmed President Trump’s pick of a former coal executive to head the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, Appalachians were already bracing for the bitter taunts from self-righteous liberals and environmentalists, “That’s what you get for voting for Trump.”

We hear it. We don’t like it. And attitudes such as these must change if we ever hope to see change.

There are reasons why coal miners have voted for pro-industry politicians, and naïveté and gullibility are not foremost among them. A common misconception is that today’s miners are old style traditionalists dedicated to mining coal as a continuation of the way of life they’ve inherited. This may be the case for foreman wearing white hardhats who receive invitations to the White House, but the rest of us are not quite so obtuse. When mining families defend the industry outside the confines of sheer economic necessity, they do so in response to the assault on their culture by outside elitists and out-of-touch environmental groups.

Those of us who entered the mines during the coal market upswing of the 2000s were facing difficult, if not impossible choices. Some of the men I worked with were tired of being away from home, spending weeks on the road to earn a living as construction workers or commercial truck drivers. Others were prison guards who could no longer handle the mental stresses of working in the region’s super maximum-security prisons. Relocating one’s family was no easy option either. Real estate values in an economically depressed region do not compare to areas with better job opportunities. Even if we had the financial ability to relocate, we were still faced with the prospect of competing for jobs in areas where public schools are better funded and there are more people with college degrees.

In Appalachia, we at least had a sense of place that reaches back generations, and the support of friends and family. When you have that, coal mining doesn’t seem quite so bad, but it no way means you are unaware of your standing within the grand scheme of things.

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Or at least an idea that keeps creeping in under the doorjam.

While the President’s broadcast from an alternative dimension celebrated the end of the “war on beautiful clean coal”, here on Earth, momentum increases to move to the energy of the future.

One of the key results of recent elections in New Jersey and Virginia will be new proving grounds for carbon pricing in the laboratories of democracy.  West Coast states moving ahead, as well as Canadian provinces.

New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Even as the Trump administration dismantles climate policies at the federal level, a growing number of Democratic state governors are considering taxing or pricing carbon dioxide emissions within their own borders to tackle global warming.

New Jersey took a major step in that direction Monday, when newly elected Gov. Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat, ordered his state to rejoin a regional carbon-trading program that his Republican predecessor, Chris Christie, had pulled out of in 2012.

The program, known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, requires power plants in participating states to buy permits for the carbon dioxide they emit. State officials often use revenue from these permit auctions for energy efficiency programs.

In a so-called cap-and-trade program like this, power plants can trade the carbon permits among themselves, but the overall number of permits dwindles steadily over time. That effectively raises the cost of emitting carbon dioxide, prodding utilities to seek out cleaner sources of electricity.“

Pulling out of R.G.G.I. slowed down progress on lowering emissions and has cost New Jerseyans millions of dollars that could have been used to increase energy efficiency and improve air quality in our communities,” Mr. Murphy said. He estimated that New Jersey had foregone $279 million in permit auction revenue because of Mr. Christie’s withdrawal.

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