Friday, January 20, 2017

Trump's White House, a la Wisconsin, deletes climate change items

Within minutes of his swearing in, Donald Trump's White House has scrubbed climate change from official websites.
The original White House page dedicated to the problem of climate change and former President Barack Obama's policies to address it is now a broken link: "The requested page '/energy/climate-change' could not be found."
Instead, the White House website features Trump's energy talking points from the campaign. The page—titled, "An America First Energy Plan"—makes no mention of climate change, other than to say, "President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the US rule. Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years."
Predictable if the incoming Secretary of State is the sitting CEO of Exxon/Mobil and the soon-to-be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency is the Oklahoma Attorney General who came to the President's attention as a cabinet pick through a blizzard of industry-friendly lawsuits aimed to weaken the impact of the EPA which Trump has pledged to break into "tidbits".
Smoke stacks from a factory. 
The White House website deletions follow the intentional scrubbing by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's "chamber of commerce mentality" Department of Natural Resources of climate science webpages, along with similar web censoring by Wisconsin Public Service Commission he controls in the state that gave the world Aldo Leopold, John Muir, Gaylord Nelson and Earth Day.

This as warming Antarctic glaciers are cracking by the multiple mile, the earth's temperatures are hitting a record high three years running, south Florida is undergoing sunny day flooding as the ocean level rises and the Midwest's 100-year inundations are happening a lot more frequently while special-interest behold leaders like Scott Walker deal with the problem by deleting the very information that real policy-makers need if there are to be actual solutions.


They say we are in a fact-free world where even words don't matter anymore.


And in that spirit, the ruling party is targeting science, too - - right where words and facts can make or break the planet.


All at our collective peril.






And the populism will be led by billionaires

Our new billionaire President in his inaugural address, and with his signature egotism and predictable absence of any unifying humility - - 
Trump at lectern before backdrop with elements of logo "TRUMP DonaldJTrump.com" 
- - called for an America-first populism directed by him from the top down.

It will implemented by right-wing GOP legislators in complete thrall to the special-interest right-wing billionaire donor class and activated by his fellow hand-picked right-wing Goldman Sachs/ExxonMobil/other corporate millionaires and billionaires in his Cabinet.

Top down, one-party populism proclaimed and managed by billionaires and their legislative lieutenants is a complete contradiction, a cause for concern at the broader, 50-state grassroots and a failure waiting to unfold.




WI GOP establishment helped give us Trump the Irrational

[Updated from 1/14 for Inauguration Day]

Just a reminder that when Donald Trump embarrasses you, frightens you, lies to you and otherwise mocks American Democracy, Wisconsin's Republican leadership stood with him and told you he was the best choice to be President. And when these Republican leaders come to your town or business or school - - or try to rewrite the record and slip away from the mess or the circus or the nightmare that Trump is already creating - - don't let them forget or deny that Trump belongs to them.

[Updated from 1/13 with news of Donald Trump's dishonest and disrespectful Twitter attack on US civil rights icon and Congressman John Lewis.] 

Watched Trump's crazy news conference. And I remembered that one of the factors which helped to win Wisconsin - - and the Presidency - - was the backing of all sorts of experienced pols who told us Trump was supportable and Presidential:


Scott Walker. Paul Ryan. Ron Johnson. Sean Duffy. David Clarke. Cathy Stepp. Most of conservative talk radio.


Some of them saw Trump as a means to an end. A route to more power, or a job, or keeping special interests happy, or the cool proximity to a billionaire/TV personality.


We can argue from now to Doomsday - - and experts say Trump's cavalier embrace of a new nuclear arms race makes that no laughing matter - - about the impact on the outcome of flaws in Hillary Clinton's campaign and the very real interference by the FBI, the Russians and Wikileaks.


I don't downplay any of that.


But let's remember the Wisconsinites who organized the state for Trump and helped put him where he is right now, and thereby also helped put the rest of us and programs we need - -  Obamacare, Medicaid, Medicare, Planned Parenthood, clean air and water guarantees - - in danger.


  



Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sheriff Clarke spotted at Trump DC Hotel bar, but...

For the love of God, don't hassle the man 
David Clarke by Gage Skidmore.jpg
should you see him where The New York Times spotted him
David A. Clarke Jr., the Milwaukee County sheriff, a Fox News regular and a Trump supporter, was camped in the bar sipping Stoli Cranberi vodka. Among the other guests were Hary Tanoesoedibjo, a billionaire businessman and politician from Indonesia who is Mr. Trump’s business partner in two hotel projects there, and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York.
Of course, The Times notes the bigger story: 
It was a telling destination for those visits Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon. Perhaps more than any other location in Mr. Trump’s far-flung real estate empire, this 263-room hotel epitomizes the convergence of Donald Trump the global businessman and Donald Trump the president-elect.
Conflicts that for months have been theoretical are now about to become real — most immediately a possible challenge by the federal government. It owns the building that houses Mr. Trump’s hotel and has granted him a 60-year lease. From the moment he is sworn in as president at noon Friday, Mr. Trump may be in violation of that lease, given a provision that appears to prohibit federal elected officials from renting the Old Post Office building, the Pennsylvania Avenue landmark that houses the hotel, from the government.

Heads up - - WI DNR delaying, 'streamlining' Stewardship Fund process

You hear delay, new criteria and 'streamlining' from this iteration of the DNR, and you remember that Walker tried to suspend the popular, bi-partisan Stewardship Fund for a generation - - and more cuts to the program have been signaled - -  and you can't be optimistic about this email the DNR just released:


Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Grant Program Announcements

Upcoming application deadlines:

The application due date for Fiscal Year 2018 Nonprofit Conservation Organization (NCO) grants will be sometime in March or April 2017.  The typical February 1 application deadline has been changed due to application material revisions.   When an application deadline has been established, we will announce the date via email and post application information and material on the Stewardship NCO Grant web pageLocal Assistance grant programs anticipate the typical May 1 application deadline for Fiscal Year 2018. 

Project ranking criteria revisions:

DNR is in the process of reviewing and updating grant project ranking criteria for all Local Assistance and NCO grant subprograms.   Those criteria have not been reviewed or revised since 2011.  The goals of this review are to:
  • Streamline the ranking process for both applicants and grant staff
  • Revise confusing and/or subjective ranking questions
  • Add to evaluation of land acquisition projects a consideration of agricultural resources on potential grant lands
Proposed revisions will be posted on the DNR’s program guidance page for public inputbefore they are finalized.  The Department anticipates posting revisions for comment late this month. 

 Soliciting nominations for Advisory Council members:

The Stewardship Advisory Council, a group created to advise the Secretary on grant program issues, has vacant seats.   The Council meets approximately three times/year. DNR is seeking nominations from: 
  • An organization representing interests of local governments or parks programs statewide
  • A local land trust representing a service area outside of southeastern WI
  • A sporting organization
Nominations are due to the DNR by the end of January. More information about the council and nomination information can be found on the Advisory Council web page.


Where is Wisconsin's current "business-like" financial report?

So if Wisconsin is really "open for business," as Scott Walker has repetitively claimed, where is the current, official Comprehensive Annual Financial Report which the state produces and "serves to present the State's financial position in a business-like manner."

Last year's wasn't so hot.

You can look at what's available for yourself; the last report posted by the Wisconsin Department of Administration on the relevant website has a transmittal letter dated December 17, 2015, so the 21016 report appears to be late: 
The State Controller's Office in the Department of Administration publishes the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for each state fiscal year. The report is prepared on a Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) basis.  The adoption of GAAP by the State of Wisconsin for financial reporting purposes serves to present the State’s financial position in a business-like manner. GAAP reporting accurately measures financial operations, fully discloses financial position, provides an externally accepted presentation, and provides information for financial managers.
The State of Wisconsin CAFR has received a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) each year since state fiscal year 1996.

Large basket of deplorables discovered

Trump says cabinet's IQ highest ever, EPA pick disproves it

Donald Trump today said his cabinet has the highest IQ of any such grouping.
Trump at lectern before backdrop with elements of logo "TRUMP DonaldJTrump.com"
Two things.

1. We have learned that when Trump speaks with his signature exaggeration, he means just the opposite but can't see the truth because his narcissism is blinding.


And he'd probably read this critical editorial in, as he is wont to say, the 'failing' New York Times: 

Within a 24-hour period Tuesday and Wednesday, three of the most controversial and quite possibly the least qualified of these nominees paraded across the screen in a cavalcade of misstatements, lapses of judgment, conflicts of interest and from time to time spectacular displays of ignorance and insensitivity.
2. His pick for EPA administrator just gave the lie to Trump's accolade:
Donald Trump's pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged Wednesday that he isn't familiar with basic science on the health effects of lead. At his confirmation hearing, Scott Pruitt was asked by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md) whether he believes there is any safe level of lead in the human body. "That's something I have not reviewed nor know about," Pruitt responded. He went on to say that he would be "very concerned about any level of lead" in drinking water or human consumption but added that he had "not looked at the scientific research on that."
Four-letter words come to mind.

Also, one five-letter word.

F-l-i-n-t. 

Where Trump & Walker overlap, and where they don't

The dirty air trail pumped out of Trump Tower and soon from a ruined US Environmental Protection [Sic] Agency long ago settled over Scott Walker's "chamber of commerce mentality" state government in Wisconsin.

So media covering the nomination hearing of climate change denier and right-wing GOP Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as administrator of the EPA should take a look at the formerly progressive state of Earth Day founder and former Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Gaylord Nelson, where right-wing GOP Governor, ALEC captive and Koch brothers' darling Walker has created the kind of corporately-slavish, de-regulated anti-science state which incoming President Donald Trump is embracing.
Trump at lectern before backdrop with elements of logo "TRUMP DonaldJTrump.com"

Walker has installed dedicated climate change deniers atop both the Department of Natural Resources - - where clean air and water are supposed to be protected - - and at the Public Service Commission - - where energy policies are implemented.

At the DNR, the cave-in on climate science is a mixture of willful ignorance and Walker mission creep, while the PSC is chaired at Walker's behest by utility-friendly Phil Montgomery, a right-wing former state lawmaker once named the ALEC "Legislator of the Year."

That Koch brothers/fossil fuels addicted circle in Wisconsin is closed by right-wing GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel, who joined with Walker's approval with both the Wisconsin PSC and DNR to sue the EPA over clean air rules, joining litigation initiated by Pruitt.

Both Pruitt and Schimel set up specialized legal teams within their state agencies to sue the Obama EPA.

More about that, here.

And Walker and Trump both are friends of upper-earner tax cuts, enemies of Planned Parenthood and backers of public dollars poured into private schools, to name but a few of their partisan and ideological similarities.

Walker and Trump do diverge on the matter of job creation, however.

While Trump has been demanding that businesses locate in or relocate to the US, Walker is fine with jobs leaving Wisconsin as long as the departure fits with his partisan agenda and increases the odds that Republicans have electoral advantages insured on parallel tracks by suppressionist voter ID and other ballot-box blocking laws.

Though he created and initially chaired a state run economic development corporation purportedly to add and retain jobs through public loans and grants, he and that body did not lift a finger as about 1,000 jobs at the now-shuttered Oscar Mayer meat-packing plant in Madison moved to Iowa.

A big hit to the Madison economy neatly fit with Walker's goal of weakening the city, a Democratic stronghold, where he has also deeply cut the budget and appeal of the flagship UW campus, a white-collar jobs' engine.

Similarly, Walker killed a fledgling Amtrak train assembly plant and maintenance base in Milwaukee to serve the Midwest High-Speed Rail system as part of Tea Party-and-fossil-fuel-industry inspired attack on President Obama in 2010.

Walker also blocked permanently an Amtrak line extension from Milwaukee to Madison, its several years of good-paying construction jobs and long-term development spinoff, and also future Amtrak train assembly jobs that are now concentrated in a massive complex in nearby northern Illinois.

Again, it was ideology and partisanship over jobs in a Democratic city.

That entire saga is here.

For Walker, mission accomplished.

Upset by fake news? How about fake official records?

Oh, these Republicans - - do they have trouble with the forms and the words and the whodunit and such!

*  There was right-wing Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker and his famous/infamous "drafting error" oopsie-daisy wherein he got caught rewriting/ruining/fibbing about his sneak attack on the University of Wisconsin's historic public service mission.

* But now we have the right-wing GOP school choice billionaire and Donald Trump Education Secretary-nominee Betsy DeVos' 13-year-long foundation "clerical error" involving no less than her own actual name discovered during her confirmation hearing/circus Wednesday just might have Walker's "drafting error" beat.

Drafting error vs. clerical error?

Be the official scorer: which is worse?.
  


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Fatal driving in WI, the state of denial

Connect the dots, since WisDOT won't:

*  Wisconsin raised its freeway speed limits with the Assembly GOP Speaker leading the charge against the 2015 urgings of the experts, and an increase in crash deaths was predicted:

Encouraging Wisconsin drivers to go faster is going to cost lives.
Cars in a crash
*  A jump in deaths was being tracked by state officials in early 2016.

*  And year-end data recently released showed an overall annual traffic fatality increase, but state officials cited just about everything but the speed limit increase as a factor:

"Low gas prices and an improving economy in 2016 likely contributed to an increase in the number of vehicles on the road and the miles they traveled. An increase in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) can also increase the risks for crashes," says David Pabst, director of the WisDOT Bureau of Transportation Safety.
"The 2016 VMT will not be available for several more months. However, VMT in 2015 was up nearly 2.1 billion miles compared with the previous year and that was the largest statewide increase in 17 years. It seems likely that VMT in 2016 was high as well," Pabst says.
He emphasizes that about 90 percent of crashes are caused at least in part by bad decisions and dangerous habits by drivers. In addition, multiple behavioral factors may be involved in a crash.
"Speeding, impaired driving and lack of safety belt use have for many years been frequent factors in fatal crashes," Pabst says.
 "In recent years, there’s been an increase in distracted driving including the use of cell phones behind the wheel. The dangers of distracted driving, also known as inattentive driving, are not exaggerated. During the last five years, an average of 97 people were killed and more than 10,000 were injured annually in crashes in which at least one driver was listed as driving inattentively. Because distracted driving greatly increases the risk of causing a crash or failing to avoid one, people always need to pay attention to traffic and road conditions."

Feb. 4th Madison Pipeline Fighters benefit

     NEWS RELEASE 



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:   January 18, 2017
Contact: Thistle Pettersen, 608- 316-5822, thistle@riseup.net for MAMA; Ben Peterson, (410) 980-4660, petersonben50@gmail.com for 350-Madison Climate Action Team.

Pipeline Fighters’ Benefit Extravaganza

The nation’s attention has been riveted on the courageous acts of the Standing Rock Sioux to protect the waters of the Missouri River from Energy Transfer Partner’s Dakota Access Pipeline crossing it. While continued construction of that pipeline has been halted temporarily, a pipeline expansion with similar threats to bodies of water right here in Wisconsin is currently taking place. Enbridge Energy, the $42 billion Canadian company which operates Line 61, is tripling the capacity of that line from the original 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.2 million bpd. Some of the same troubling facts that faced the tribe in North Dakota have now arrived on Wisconsin’s doorstep and an opposition movement is growing.

Inspired by the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies, local activists from Madison Action for Mining Alternatives (MAMA) and 350 Madison Climate Action Team will host the Pipeline Fighters’ Benefit Extravaganza on February 4, 2017 at the Wil-Mar Center, 953 Jenifer St. in Madison. This family friendly event is intended to raise awareness of the Enbridge pipeline expansion through Wisconsin and to build the legal defense funds to stop it. 

Enbridge’s plans don’t stop with Line 61. Plans are under way to “twin” Line 61, creating a new line (66) in the same corridor, to carry 800,000bpd. This means that 2 million barrels of toxic tar sands, by and large destined for export, would flow through Wisconsin each day.

“We know the dangers and inevitability of tar sands spills,” said Ben Peterson of 350 Madison. “It’s no longer a matter of “if” there will be a spill, but “when” and then we’ll be left with pollution to our air and waterways and the price of clean-up. It’s an all risk, no reward situation. We believe that the more citizens learn about the facts at an event like the Pipeline Fighters Benefit Extravaganza, the better chance we’ll have to stop these irresponsible actions before it’s too late.”

The event will kick-off with an Art Build at 10:00am.  Anyone interested in making political posters, banners, and cardboard critter hats is welcome! Space is limited though so signing up in advance with Phyllis Hasbrouck at phyllisofmadison@gmail.com is recommended. 

A fun-filled afternoon program starts at 5:00pm with a welcome and opening ceremony followed by a meal of foods that would be threatened by a pipeline spill.  Attendees are encouraged to arrive early; only the first 100 will be able to be served. 

Speakers include Ronni Monroe, founding member of the Wisconsin Tar Sands Action Coalition, and Peter Anderson of 350 Madison Climate Action Team.

Diverse and dynamic musical acts will then take the stage until midnight. Performances include the local talents of Tani Diakite and the Afro-Funkstars, Thistle & Thorns, the Solidarity Singers, Chandraya Dance Collective, Solidarity Singers, Raging Grannies, and 350 Madison Players’ production of Walker’s Bribery Game.  

A silent auction will run throughout the event and guests will be able to bid on crafts and other items from local artists and businesses. Representatives of grassroots environmental groups will be on hand with literature and ways to get involved. A fun game of Environmental Jeopardy and a piƱata smashing for kids will round out the day.

The suggested donation is $25 at the door and $10 for students and limited-income. Children under 8 are free.

MAMA is a Madison coalition supporting communities struggling against mining in Wisconsin. 350 Madison Climate Action Team is the local branch of 350.org, an international grassroots organization that is mobilizing a global climate movement. 350 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 is the number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. 

Iowa grabbing more WI jobs, could send pig manure back

Wisconsin's right-wing Gov. Scott Walker has failed to match the rest of country in the pace of job growth despite the full ideological array of tax cuts, environmental rule rollbacks and right-to-work favoritism, yet we note today the reported cut of 67 jobs by a business in La Crosse which plans to consolidate that operation in Iowa.

Iowa - - to which Oscar Mayer relocated its entire, iconic Madison operation and something like 1,000 good paying jobs that Walker did not contest.


Iowa - - which is killing Wisconsin in the expansion of wind and clean power development, even though Iowa is run by conservative Republicans who have somehow managed to balance ideological temptation with the reality that green energy produces high wages and healthier air.


Iowa - - which, to be fair, is trying to send, and will if Walker's "chamber of commerce mentality" Department of Natural Resources says "OK," 26,000 manure-producing pigs to be fattened every six months within smelling distance of a Lake Superior Bay so pristine and so unusual that Walker's State Tourism Department goes out of its way to promote.


More, here.


On, Wisconsin!



About that third-straight year of record Earth temps...

Nothing to see in that stupid science reported by Fake News New York Times, per Donald Trump the Hoaxer and Cathy Stepp the Ignorant, I reckon.

The heart of the Times' reporting:

Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported on Wednesday that the Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016 — trouncing a record set only a year earlier, which beat one set in 2014. It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row.
The findings come two days before the inauguration of an American president who has called global warming a Chinese plot and vowed to roll back his predecessor’s efforts to cut emissions of heat-trapping gases.
No doubt the consequences of these reality deniers will be Yuge, made worse if Fossil Fuel-in-Chief joins the rest of these Fossil Fools making and implementing policy.
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Cathy Stepp won #DefiningTrump, hands down

I noted earlier today that DNR Cathy Stepp - - 
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR
- - says she was unaware that Donald Trump had said climate change was a Chinese hoax, but give credit where it's due, as the Internets do record her at a Trump rally on September 28th pretty much nailing the Trump persona:

The hoax is that WI DNR Secretary Stepp reads the papers

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp told the Wisconsin State Journal that she was unaware while endorsing and campaigning for Donald Trump for President that Trump had said climate change was a hoax invented by China to give its products an edge.

One might think Stepp had heard that claim, given the reach of her agency, and that Trump had made the claim in 2012 and it had become an issue during the campaign to which Stepp devoted some of her time, publicly.

On Stepp's watch as Secretary, the DNR has been deleting climate change information from its official websites, the record shows, so it was a reasonable conclusion that Stepp was  doing with her powers as agecy-scrubber-in-chief what her Presidential pick would approve.

However, you can forgive Stepp, busily immersed as she has been inveighing against career employeesplanning department-wide Halloween parties or being posed and photographed with a small deer she shot - - 
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR
- - or carrying water for special interests instead of the public interest as she and Walker continued to degrade the department  - - to be aware of a story that produces 1,800,000 citations through the Google search "Trump climate change China hoax."

For the record, this issue arose in 2012 when Trump first Tweeted it to the world:


The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.