Not long ago, many Republican officeholders had a simple answer when asked about the changing climate: What changing climate?

But the public began to notice the heat waves and the torrential rainsand the tidal flooding. So then we had the “I am not a scientist” phase, with one lawmaker after another fending off climate questions with that formula.

That drew such ridicule that Republicans critical of climate science had to come up with a more nuanced answer. Several variations on the new approach were on display recently during confirmation hearings for some of President Trump’s cabinet nominees.

“Science tells us that the climate is changing and human activity in some manner impacts that change,” Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general nominated to run the Environmental Protection Agency, told a Senate committee. “The human ability to measure with precision the extent of that impact is subject to continuing debate and dialogue, as well they should be.”

Let us ponder the craftsmanship of that second sentence.

“With precision” is the key phrase, of course, and it renders the statement almost axiomatically true. Do we have trouble taking the precise temperature of an entire planet and then divining, for a given period, exactly how much of the change in that temperature is caused by human activities?

Well, yes.

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The airwaves were abuzz yesterday with astounded reactions to Trump “senior advisor” and Eichmann-in-Training Stephen Miller’s performance on the Sunday talk shows.
But best response by far came from Stephen Colbert.

Washington Post:

Senior White House policy adviser Stephen Miller made the rounds on the Sunday talk shows over the weekend, and his comments about voter fraud have earned him justifiably dim reviews. The Washington Post’s Philip Bump and Fact Checker Glenn Kessler dealt with those claims in depth.

But amid all the baseless and false statements about electoral integrity, Miller did something even more controversial: He expanded upon his boss’s views of whether judges are allowed to question President Trump’s authority. And at one point, Miller even said Trump’s national security decisions “will not be questioned.”

Here’s the key exchange, with “Face the Nation’s” John Dickerson (emphasis added):

DICKERSON: When I talked to Republicans on the Hill, they wonder, what in the White House — what have you all learned from this experience with the executive order?

MILLER: Well, I think that it’s been an important reminder to all Americans that we have a judiciary that has taken far too much power and become, in many cases, a supreme branch of government. One unelected judge in Seattle cannot remake laws for the entire country. I mean this is just crazy, John, the idea that you have a judge in Seattle say that a foreign national living in Libya has an effective right to enter the United States is — is — is beyond anything we’ve ever seen before.

The end result of this, though, is that our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.

“Will not be questioned.” That is an incredible claim to executive authority — and one we can expect to hear plenty more about. Trump has beaten around this bush plenty, yes. But Miller just came out and said it: that the White House doesn’t recognize judges’ authority to review things such as his travel ban.

“The Ninth Circuit Court? How many divisions do they have?”

Rachel Maddow reports on the still-developing scandal that Donald Trump national security adviser, Mike Flynn, reportedly discussed U.S. sanctions with Russia before Trump was in office, and that communication existed during the campaign.

Below, CNN has confirmed parts of the Steele memo, the document containing intel collected by a former British spy who has since dropped out of site.
The memo is most famous for unsavory details, what CNN calls ” salacious allegations”  of the President’s visits to Russia. The most important bits are those that cover the Trump organizations negotiations with Russia prior to the election, allegations that there was an agreement to drop sanctions against Russia, applied by President Obama after the invasion of Ukraine, in return for help in gaming the US election.


For the first time, US investigators say they have corroborated some of the communications detailed in a 35-page dossier compiled by a former British intelligence agent, multiple current and former US law enforcement and intelligence officials tell CNN. As CNN first reported, then-President-elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama were briefed on the existence of the dossier prior to Trump’s inauguration.

None of the newly learned information relates to the salacious allegations in the dossier. Rather it relates to conversations between foreign nationals. The dossier details about a dozen conversations between senior Russian officials and other Russian individuals. Sources would not confirm which specific conversations were intercepted or the content of those discussions due to the classified nature of US intelligence collection programs.
But the intercepts do confirm that some of the conversations described in the dossier took place between the same individuals on the same days and from the same locations as detailed in the dossier, according to the officials. CNN has not confirmed whether any content relates to then-candidate Trump.
The corroboration, based on intercepted communications, has given US intelligence and law enforcement “greater confidence” in the credibility of some aspects of the dossier as they continue to actively investigate its contents, these sources say.
Reached for comment this afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, “We continue to be disgusted by CNN’s fake news reporting.”

The Hill:

A top aide to national security adviser Michael Flynn was denied security clearance to serve on the National Security Council (NSC), Politico reported late Friday.

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Kinda hot in Oklahoma today.

Below – Kansas too. Read the rest of this entry »

Intense rain plus aging infrastructure = massive uncertainty.


Is new Attorney General Jeff Sessions a Climate Denier?  The record says yes.

Is Sessions a Racist?
Racists seem to think so. They’re celebrating his elevation to power.

Media Matters:

White Nationalists Hail Sessions’ Confirmation

Daily Stormer: Sessions’ Confirmation Means “We Are One Step Closer To Solidifying Trump’s Authoritarian Dictatorship.” Andrew Anglin, who runs neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, celebrated Sessions’ confirmation and contrasted him to African-American former attorneys general Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder by writing, “They were constantly standing up to Barack like, ‘Barack, m8, u b n too hard on dem wites’”:

[The Daily Stormer, 2/9/17] Read the rest of this entry »

Stat News:

During Senate hearings Tuesday on DeVos’s nomination, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) asked point-blank if a DeVos-led Department of Education would side with students or with purveyors of junk science. She evaded answering — but conspicuously used the “critical thinking” catchphrase beloved by creationists and climate change deniers alike.

Others in the Trump administration have been more outspoken challengers of climate change and evolution.

During the campaign for president, Donald Trump repeatedly called climate change a hoax. His recent claim that “no one really knows” is a scant improvement.

While evolution was not as much in the headlines during the campaign, Vice President-elect Mike Pence once saw fit to denounce evolution on the floor of the House of Representatives.

The federal Department of Education has little power over what teachers are required to cover. Science education standards are set at the state level. Evolution is generally integrated into current standards and textbooks, and climate change — a relative newcomer to American science education — is increasingly included in them.

But just including evolution and climate change in standards isn’t enough. Teachers must feel confident when presenting the material in their classrooms. Unfortunately, they often don’t. Only 54 percent of American science teachers teach climate change forthrightly, while only 28 percent do the same for evolution.

Seattle Times:

Besides running the library, Hagen said, she teaches a class called “digital life.” She meets with fifth-graders twice a week and with eighth-graders once a week. The classes are a mix of technology and information-literacy skills, but since the presidential election, she’s increased the focus on the latter.

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