Tag Archives: cdc cancels climate change conference

The Trump Watch (early February) (Part 2 of 2)

Part 1 was yesterday; find it here.

Switching Sides

1930s Portrait Of Man With Gag In MouthThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention canceled a scheduled conference on climate change when officials there realized it would have been a complete waste of time under life with a new boss who doesn’t even believe in climate change. A reasonable choice but a bad decision: the experts shouldn’t muzzle themselves voluntarily. They should make the politicians muzzle them.

Another potential side-switcher is the Justice Department, which has been supporting a civil rights case in which plaintiffs are challenging Texas’s voter ID law, claiming it discriminates against low-income people and people of color. As soon as the new occupant entered the White House, Justice Department lawyers petitioned the federal court to delay hearing the case. Why? Because the Trump Justice Department is apparently deciding whether to change sides and support the Texas voter ID law that discriminates against low-income people and people of color.

If He Said it Once, He’s Going to Say it Again 

And again and again and again, with nothing more to support him than his own delusions: Donald Trump won the popular vote.

Or at least he would have, he claims, if millions of illegal voters hadn’t cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton. How many millions? Three to five, Trump believes. Of course there’s not a shred of evidence to support this claim – not even the study Trump frequently cites, which doesn’t say it at all. He won the electoral college and he’s now president, so now all that’s left for him is being a sore winner.

And he shows every sign of being very, very good at that.

Well, at least daddy has enough money to post bail after Tiffany is read her rights and carted away.

Well, at least daddy has enough money to post bail after Tiffany is read her rights and carted off to the hoosegow.

So good, in fact, that he’s threatening to launch a major investigation – will it ever be possible for Trump to do anything without calling it “major” – into vote fraud in an election he actually won; again, talk about your sore winner. In addition to illegal immigrants, Trump is upset about people he believes register to vote in more than one place – and in more than one state, in particular. The hated press, in fact, has already identified five such individuals:             Steven Bannon, Trump’s “strategist”; Sean Spicer, his Dippin Dots-hatin’ press secretary; Jared Kushner, his son in-law and new White House advisor; Steve Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary nominee who apparently forgets more than the extra, unreported $100 million stuffed in his mattress; and Trump’s own daughter, Tiffany. In addition, it is now being reported that Trump’s vote fraud expert, a guy named Gregg Phillips, is registered to vote in not one and not two but three states – a real achiever, he is.  The Curmudgeon guesses that if anyone understands vote fraud it would be a guy like Phillips, who reportedly is a rather accomplished practitioner of the art.

Lock-them-up! LOCK-THEM-UP!

Step Aside, Muhammad Ali

Ali passes the torch

Ali passes the torch

The late heavyweight champ always told us he was the greatest, but now that he’s gone, Trump seems ready to fill that void.

Don’t believe it? Just ask him.

As reported last week in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The way President Trump tells it, the meandering, falsehood-filled, self-involved speech that he gave at CIA headquarters last weekend was one of the greatest addresses ever given.

Mixing his metaphors: surely Trump knows that Manning plays football and not baseball and doesn't hit home runs - or does he?

Mixing his metaphors: surely Trump knows that Manning played football and not baseball and doesn’t hit home runs – or does he?

“That speech was a home run,” Trump told ABC News just a few minutes into his first major television interview since moving into the White House. “See what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches. They showed the people applauding and screaming. … I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl, and they said it was equal. I got a standing ovation. It lasted for a long period of time.”

The most powerful man in the world continued: “You probably ran it live. I know when I do good speeches. I know when I do bad speeches. That speech was a total home run. They loved it. … People loved it. They loved it. They gave me a standing ovation for a long period of time. They never even sat down, most of them, during the speech. There was love in the room. You [ABC] and other networks covered it very inaccurately. … That speech was a good speech. And you and a couple of other networks tried to downplay that speech. And it was very, very unfortunate that you did.”

Trump brushed off the suggestion that it was disrespectful to deliver the speech — which included musings about magazine covers and crowd sizes — in front of a hallowed memorial to CIA agents killed in the line of duty. He insisted that the crowd was filled with “the people of the CIA,” not his supporters, and could have been several times larger than it was. Had a poll been taken of the 350-person audience to gauge the speech’s greatness, Trump said the result would have been “350 to nothing” in his favor.

And then he returned to the size of the crowd at his inauguration:

“Here’s a picture of the crowd,” the president explained to the nation he now leads. “Now, the audience was the biggest ever, but this crowd was massive. Look how far back it goes. This crowd was massive. And I would actually take that camera and take your time [scanning the crowd] if you want to know the truth.”

Then the president took Muir to see another image, a panoramic photo by a local artist who has taken the exact same shot at each inauguration since Reagan was in office. (The other years were not presented for contrast.)

Size really really REALLY matters to this guy

Size really really REALLY matters to this guy

“One thing this shows is how far over they go here,” Trump said, walking up close to the print and pointing as he spoke. “Look. Look how far this is. This goes all the way down here. All the way down. Nobody sees that. You don’t see that in the pictures. But when you look at this tremendous sea of love — I call it a sea of love. It’s really something special, that all these people traveled here from all parts of the country, maybe the world, but all parts of the country. Hard for them to get here. Many of these people were the forgotten men and women, many of them. And they loved what I had to say. More importantly, they’re going to love the result.”


Emoluments? Isn’t that something you rub on a rash? No, actually, emoluments is a word in the constitution. It says:

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Appropriate application of the constitution's emoluments clause will free foreign state-owned television stations to save their money so they can stock up on really good American television programs

Appropriate application of the constitution’s emoluments clause will free foreign state-owned television stations to save their money so they can stock up on really good American television programs

Emoluments, in this case, means “power and/or pay.” In the situation of President Trump, there’s an argument that he’s accepting emoluments when representatives of a foreign government rent office space in a Trump office building or stay a night at a Trump hotel. While The Curmudgeon finds the hotel business a bit of a stretch, consider this possibility: a country attempting to curry the president’s favor uses its state-owned television station to purchase the rights to broadcast The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice reruns, in which the president holds a financial interest, for a handsome or what appears to be impossible-to-justify fee even though it may not be terribly interested in actually broadcasting the program at all. Why? To curry the president’s favor.

That’s why the constitution includes such a clause – the founders and writers of the constitution were very, very clear about this – and that’s why a group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is suing the president over his failure to free himself of situations in which he will be receiving emoluments from foreign states.

The Curmudgeon isn’t a lawyer and he doesn’t play one on the internet, but the legal brief supporting this claim makes for interesting reading. Find it here.

Shades of…


And we know how it ended with him.

And we all know how it ended with him.

Firing officials for doing their job the right way, as opposed to his way.

Publicly declaring the press to be his enemy.

Acting as if everyone is against him.

Shades of…Richard Nixon?

And all in less than two weeks in office!

*            *            *

More in the not-too-distant future. The Curmudgeon suspects that this feature will not be wanting for fresh material.







The Trump Watch (early February) (Part 1 of 2)

Welcome to the new Trump Watch, an alternative fact-free zone.

Let’s get started.

Putting People to Work Again

But not necessarily American people.

The Curmudgeon nearly swallowed his Ring Ding whole when he sat down the evening of the inauguration to listen to President Trump’s address and heard the following:

We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.

Why so surprised?

So glad you asked.

It just so happens that in December, Trump Winery, owned by you-know-who, asked the U.S. Department of Labor for permission to import into the U.S. six foreign workers to work for six days a week for six months for $10.72 an hour. This is nothing new for The Donald, whose companies have, over the past fifteen years, hired more than 1200 such foreign workers for short-term jobs.

Because he apparently either doesn’t want American workers or refuses to pay enough to hire American workers.

But he wants everyone else to “hire American.”

So do you think the Trump Department of Labor will grant the Trump company’s request?

So it looks as if this will be a “Do as I say, not as I do” administration rather than a “practice what you preach” administration.

One Guy Maybe We Shouldn’t Put to Work

A guy who "forgot" to report $100 million on his financial disclosure form is supposed to have the brains to be Treasury Secretary?

A guy who “forgot” to report $100 million on his financial disclosure form is supposed to have the brains to be Treasury Secretary?

That would be Steve Mnuchin, the Goldman Sachs alumnus whom Trump has nominated to be Treasury Secretary who “forgot” to report $100 million in assets on the financial disclosure forms that are part of the review process for cabinet nominees. Mnuchin said he misunderstood the form.

Two observations here.

First, how do you forget that you have $100 million?

Second, do we really want a guy who can’t understand a simple financial disclosure form in charge of the country’s treasury and financial operations?

The White House Web Site

Within minutes of the inauguration, the Obama White House web site came down and the Trump White House web site took its place – as it should.

But with a few pieces missing: the sections on health care, climate change, and LGBT rights.

Take that, Caitlyn Jenner and liberal do-gooders!

What's next - digging into the seat cushions in the Lincoln bedroom in search of spare change?

What’s next – digging into the seat cushions in the Lincoln bedroom in search of spare change?

That new White House web site told visitors that Caitlyn lookalike Melania Trump has a jewelry line available on QVC. This was necessary because the Trump family is obviously hard up for money and looking for ways to scrape together a few extra bucks. That notwithstanding, this was a problem for two reasons, depending on your perspective: if you were a prospective customer, Melania’s stuff is no longer available through QVC; and second, it’s just so…so…so very wrong for the wife of a billionaire president to be selling sparkly tchotchkes on a web site paid for by American taxpayers and with the implied endorsement of the president of the United States.

Lending a Hand to the Needy…Insurance Companies

To counteract the impact of rising home mortgage interest rates, the Obama administration planned to reduce the annual fee for FHA mortgage insurance. (The Curmudgeon is a big fan of FHA mortgages: they helped him buy his first home.)

Who would benefit from this? Mostly working people trying to buy their first home.

But the very day it took office, the Trump administration canceled that plan; the fees will remain where they are.

And who benefits from this? The insurance companies that offer mortgage insurance.

And who will be hurt by it? Working people who haven’t been able to scrape together enough money for a down payment on the American dream.

So when Trump said in his inaugural address that

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families

…he apparently didn’t entirely mean it.

Still, it’s nice when our government can do something for the downtrodden insurance industry, isn’t it?

Far From the Madding Crowd

So how big was that inaugural crowd?

The biggest ever ever ever, said presidential puppet Sean Spicer.

Can you believe that with all of the things our new president needs to address he sent his press secretary out to spend about twelve minutes of the fifteen minutes of his first formal White House press briefing verbally spanking the press about its reporting on the size of the inaugural crowd – and offering lie after lie to prove his point?

If nothing else, this episode proves once again that to Trump, size really does matter.

Did you notice, by the way, that during his scolding of the press, Spicer was mostly reading a statement? Who do you think decided he had to take this approach in his first full-scale press briefing – and who do you think reviewed the script before he delivered it?

On the other hand, the press let this nonsense distract it from the real business of how America is being governed for a full twenty-four hours. Did you see Chuck Todd’s interview of Kellyanne Conway? With all the issues swirling around Washington, Todd decided that he needed to toss down the gauntlet over…crowd size.

But some good certainly came out of it. First, Chuck Todd proved once again that he’s all about politics and not at all about government. Why? Because you can do the politics by reading the morning paper. Doing the government part requires hard work and, you know, learning stuff.

Second and much more important, Kellyanne Conway gave us the gift of “alternative facts.”

“Alternative Facts”

Suggesting that Conway was dressed this way for the inauguration because she was going directly to a high school band competition immediately afterward would be an example of fake news - or would it?

Suggesting that Conway was dressed this way for the inauguration because she was going directly to a high school band competition immediately afterward would be an example of fake news – or would it?

When the laughter elicited by Conway’s assertion of “alternative facts” died down, people began reflecting on when they encountered that kind of nonsense in the past and the answer came to them easily: in the George Orwell novel 1984, which The Curmudgeon suspects most of us read in high school. And what do we remember about 1984? 1984 is about the takeover of the British government by a totalitarian regime that, among other things, makes extensive use of propaganda and likes to rewrite history. Remind you of anyone? If you remember anything specific about 1984 it’s probably expressions like “Big Brother is watching” (and yes, that’s where the title of the reality television program of that name comes from) and “War is Peace – Freedom is Slavery – Ignorance is Strength.” Conway called them “alternative facts;” Orwell called them “Newspeak.” Orwell had a lot of newspeak words: see some of them here.

1984You might even say Orwell was into them hugely. Or bigly.

This sparked renewed interest in 1984 – enough, anyway, to make it Amazon.com’s number one bestseller at one point last week. If you have an e-reader, though, save your money: 1984 is now in the public domain and you can download it free from many sources on the web. If you want it and can’t find one, let The Curmudgeon know and he’ll point you to one of those sources.

Back to Sean Spicer

Seven years ago Spicer, the vessel for Trump’s newspeak, went to a Dippin Dots ice cream parlor and it was out of vanilla ice cream. Ever since, Spicer has been tweeting negative things about the company, even expressing delight about its financial problems.

Would it be out of line to suggest that a man who holds a 7-year grudge over an ice cream parlor being out of vanilla doesn't believe that variety is the Spicer of life?

Would it be out of line to suggest that a man who holds a 7-year grudge over an ice cream parlor being out of vanilla doesn’t believe that variety is the Spicer of life?

A seven-year grudge over an out-of-stock ice cream flavor.

On the other hand, you have to admire the wisdom of the choice of a guy who can hold onto a grudge for so long by a president who has been known to hold onto grudges pretty long himself.

You’re Grounded!

The new administration put major federal departments in time-out.

The new administration put major federal departments in time-out.

That’s what parents say to misbehaving children. In the social media era, the punishment apparently is “No more tweeting for you, young man!”

The new Trump administration grounded the Interior Department last week after it got the whole alternative facts kerfuffle started by tweeting side-by-side photos of the crowd at this inauguration and at the first Obama inauguration eight years ago. Its reward: the new Trump administration told the offending tweeters that their tweeting days were over and they could tweet no more. The punishment, alas, was short-lived, but the point was made.

To be fair, the Interior Department people who tweeted the photo were wrong: you don’t do that to the boss. They also were stupid: all they had to do was tweet the photo of this year’s inauguration and it would’ve taken folks what, maybe eleven seconds, to find the 2009 photo and post them side by side.

Maybe they’re just too dumb to tweet.

More Muzzling

But the Trump administration was just getting started on grounding people and agencies. Shortly thereafter it sent directives to the Department of Health and Human Services ordering officials there, at the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and elsewhere in the government’s vast health care bureaucracy not to send any communication to Congress or state and local officials until February 3, not to issue any new regulations (not, to be fair, an unusual directive for a new administration), and to halt much communication with the public and stakeholders, such as news releases, discussions or questions about policies and regulations, and social media posts.

Climate change? What climate change?

Climate change? What climate change?

Seeing how much fun it was to stuff gags into the mouths of public officials, the Trump administration issued similar directives to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Agriculture.

But the Trump folks have even more in mind for the folks at the EPA: they can’t release any new work until it’s scrutinized by the White House, can’t enter into any new contracts for research, and have to stand by while the new administration decides whether its web site should be scrubbed of the term “climate change.”

Big Brother is definitely watching.

(part 2 tomorrow)