Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight / Where ignorant armies clash by night

I was going to write something much harsher than this; but then I chanced upon "ignorant armies" and hence was reminded of Dover Beach and it was so gloriously beautiful again that I can't bring myself to be unkind, at least for a while.

So instead I'll just quietly point out that the vast slew of Trump stories are counter-productive. The one that triggered my... I'm being nice, aren't I? OK, my disapproval, was Trump has violated his oath to the Constitution. But it is just an example; there are many many others. The bit they are worrying about is "emolument"; and they're worried, for example, that The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. (ICBC), which is controlled by the Chinese state, is currently paying rent for tenancy in the Manhattan Trump Tower (according to mortgage documents filed in 2012, it is the Tower’s largest office resident).

TP says The emoluments clause prohibits any person holding a federal office (such as, for example, the presidency) from accepting “any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.” Notice anything missing? If you're not familiar with the constitution, or had cause to look at it recently, you won't realise: the full clause is 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. You can also read the Economist's take.

So, the holes in this are near endless. The clause itself is designed to prevent gifts / bribes; it isn't clear at all it is designed to prevent business transactions9. If it is so designed, since it applies to all office holders, not just the high up, it must (if you interpret emoluments to include commonplace commercial transactions) inevitably have been violated by large numbers of people.

The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

And lastly, Trump's conflicts were known before Congress ratified the results of the election, which probably amounts to "Consent".

I'm probably getting carried away over-analysing this one example5. The point, in case I've obscured it, that all these stories are starting to amount to just so much noise. All the nice left wing people go tut tut and have their anti-Trump opinions confirmed. All the nasty right wing people go suck it up liberals and have their pro-Trump opinions confirmed. And no-one learns anything and nothing is changed, except dialogue becomes that bit harder.

You're wondering - I know you are - why I bothered write this when it will obviously be ignored. And I have an answer. It's going to be a great answer... people tell me my answers are great. It is this: many people - for example the Economist - are wondering "What is Donald Trump likely to achieve in power?" They note that one may be tempted to conclude that it is simply too soon to tell. But there is enough information—from the campaign, the months since his victory and his life as a property developer and entertainer—to take a view of what kind of person Mr Trump is and how he means to fill the office first occupied by George Washington. There is also evidence from the team he has picked. However, their "predictions" are rather vague. They note potential upsides to business from corporate tax cuts and deregulation, and downsides to diplomacy (NATO, EU, China) and to trade (protectionism). If they have a conclusion, it is presidents can do a modest amount of good. Sadly, they can also do immense harm. Which (I'm getting there, be patient) chimes with something I recently read via Paul:

Again and again, people imagine that, if their local pocket of order isn’t working how they want, then they should smash it to pieces, since while admittedly that might make things even worse, there’s also at least 50/50 odds that they’ll magically improve. In reasoning thus, people fail to appreciate just how exponentially more numerous are the paths downhill, into barbarism and chaos, than are the few paths further up. So thrashing about randomly, with no knowledge or understanding, is statistically certain to make things worse: on this point thermodynamics, common sense, and human history are all in total agreement. The implications of these musings for the present would be left as exercises for the reader.

However that, whilst wise, wasn't my point. My point was to make some predictions, ta-da! Not because I have any great faith in them coming true, but because if I don't, I'll never be able to look back and see how I thought now. Let's start with...

Global warming

All the stories about Trump deleting data will turn out to be nonsense6. All the people squirrelling data away will look stupid, and will do their best to quietly forget they ever did it or suggested it, or pretend it never happened. The US climate change programs will not be gutted (in the sense of... of, what's gutting? I don't know, let's say 50% cuts or more1). There will probably be some modest funding cuts, some people will lose their jobs, but the overall momentum of the US (let alone the world) research will be essentially unaffected.

The US will not introduce a carbon tax, or cap-n-trade. It might pull out of the Paris accord, but whether it does or not the affects on the path of its emissions will be minor. Coal consumption will continue to decrease and coal firms will continue to look sickly on the stock exchanges.

Some regulations will be repealed. They won't be terribly important ones2.

Civil liberties

People will whinge a lot but civil liberties in the US will be essentially unaffected.


Any protectionism, if it occurs, will be minor7. NAFTA will not be ripped up8.


Much harder to predict3. Since I'm deliberately going out on a limb, I predict: Trump will do some dumb / risky / unpredictable things, but will get away with them.


I shall be optimistic, and guess that: Trump has stuffed his cabinet with enough business folk that he'll manage to do some sensible things4: reduce regulations, reduce corporation tax, perhaps even a tax-holiday for all the mountains that US companies have stashed overseas. Done right, there might be enough money flooding in to manage a mini-boom and make himself look good.


Ha. I am, as you know, no student of USAnian politics. But I guess that his opponents (Dems, liberal media, whatevs) will continue to fail to learn. They will remain so outraged by every little thing - which all the nice people they go to dinner parties with will agree are terrible - that they'll lack any useful metric to notice anything truely worth opposing. And so they will fail. And even if they could get over that, whilst they disagree with Trump they don't have any good ideas to oppose him with.


There has to be a chance that Trump simply blows up: he says or does something too embarrassingly stupid or outrageous to be covered up, or some of his prior activities turn out to be too bad to be ignored, or he gets impeached. FWIW, I think that's unlikely. Do you disagree with me? Excellent! We have the basis for a bet. See just below.


As you can see, my overall prediction is "minor". Since I've mentioned betting, above, I'm wondering if I could interest anyone on a sweepstake on just when at least one of the "predictions" above turns out to be obviously embarrassingly wrong. As judged by me, though you can propose an impartial arbitrator if you like. I have £1,000 sitting around not doing very much. Anyone interested? You can bid (serious offers only, no time wasters) in the comments for a (first day of) month and year. Lowest (i.e., closest to now) bid wins. If my "predictions" turn out to be still plausible on that date, I win. Otherwise you do.


1. That's in total. Any one programme may get nuked.

2. As measured by impact on total GHG emissions.

3. I'm told it's looking good so far.

4. Cancelling the FHA Insurance Rate Cut is minor but sensible. It's also hard to see as anything that Trump cares about, so is presumably something his people wanted.

5. Another is all the fuss over Trump-at-war-with-the-CIA. Now peace has broken out: Graun: Donald Trump seeks to quell feud with CIA: 'I'm with you a thousand percent'. Short war, few killed.

6. Although it was shitty of him to delete Obama's "farewell" speech from https://www.whitehouse.gov/farewell (archive of dead state). The Internet archive has a copy (archive of that).

See-also The Scramble to Protect Climate Data Under Trump.

7. As Timmy, and doubtless many others, have pointed out, Trump doesn't appear to understand trade. That's bad, but it is what he does that matters; I'm hoping he will be restrained by those around him. OTOH, if he actually does some of the mad things he has said it would be very bad.

8. TTP will be, which is probably regrettable, but it counts as minor because it was probably dead anyway: see Timmy for example.

9. The Senate interprets "emoluments" as "gifts".


* Donald Trump protests: Washington leads global rallies; Washington DC police refuse to give an official count for how many people turned up today. So we're unlikely to know exactly how many people turned out in the nation's capital. But it's clear there were more people on the streets of DC today than when Trump was sworn in as president yesterday. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, also staged protests against Trump in more than 600 cities and towns around the world
* The rise of the Herbal Tea Party- Lexington / the Economist.
* Fascism and the Current National Emergency- Peter Woit

Other people's predictions

* Why Trump’s Inauguration is Not the Beginning of an Era — but the End - Peter Leyden: I think Trump ultimately is going to do America and the world a service by becoming the vehicle that will finally take down right-wing conservative politics for a generation or two. Nah.

More like this

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Tired of tossers6, I seem to be having a ha ha ha series. And it's time for a two-month review of my brilliantly prescient Trump predictions. Except not really, because it's too early, but I think the failure of his repeal of Obamacare is a good time to take stock, without breaking my resolution…
ADDED: It has been suggested that I clarify an important point about this post. So, dear reader, please understand that the information provided here is my best attempt at analysis of the information that I have available. There is clearly conjecture here. So, of course, read all this with a…
Note added 9/17/2015: I knew it. The vaccine issue came up during the second debate and Donald Trump repeated basically the same nonsensical antivaccine tropes that he's been repeating for at least eight years. It rather puts the lie to his claim that he listens to experts and changes his opinion…

I hope that you are a better prophet than analyst.

[Go on; you've got your own blog. Let's see your predictions -W]

What makes you think that business people, appointed to cabinet positions, will use those positions to benefit business in general, as opposed to their own businesses - and those of their friends - in particular?

[Tricky one. I can, of course, not be certain of it. Indeed, I'd be surprised if there wasn't a certain amount of that. But (a) people will be watching and (b) there are a lot of them, covering a lot of industry -W]

By Nick Barnes (not verified) on 21 Jan 2017 #permalink

(and incidentally these predictions are too hopelessly vague to even begin to form the basis for any sort of wager).

[Would you care to venture something more specific? -W]

By Nick Barnes (not verified) on 21 Jan 2017 #permalink

Somebody named Paddy is taking bets on whether The Donald is impeached. I guess odds are currently 1 in 3.

By David B. Benson (not verified) on 21 Jan 2017 #permalink

With all due respect, you are venturing a bit outside your own area of expertise on all this. That is of course more or less normal for blogs, but these are not at all normal times and many people on this side of the Atlantic are not entirely in the mood to be lectured at by someone a long way off with a relatively poor grasp of what's going on here.

To start with your very first example, the chief ethics lawyers for both of the past two Administrations (Norm Eisen [Democrat] and Richard Painter [Republican]) have been very clear that Trump's conflicts of interest are severe and do indeed risk violating the Emoluments clause, and that it is quite likely that if left unchanged his current plans for managing (or not) those conflicts of interest could easily represent grounds for impeachment, regardless of whether the GOP Congress chooses to pursue it.

So, my apologies, but I am more likely to defer to their expertise than yours on this particular issue.

More broadly, ISTM that in recent years a lot of your analysis of US politics on your blog has been shading into Dunning-Kruegerism. I would certainly not feel comfortable lecturing you about Brexit or whatever, but I suppose one consequence of the US's position in world affairs is that everyone everywhere feels they know enough about what goes on here to comment on it.

At least I now know what happened to Muhammad Saeed Al-Sahhaf: he was hired by the Trump team to be the White house spokesman.

Welcome to the Ministry of Truth.

Trump's own words are not very reassuring either (although he'll likely claim to have made a joke again), when he said about Iraq “But if you think about it, Mike, if we kept the oil, you probably wouldn’t have ISIS because that’s where they made their money in the first place, so we should have kept the oil. But, OK, maybe we’ll have another chance.”

"people will be watching" is no damn good when the GOP controls everything. People were watching during the Shrub administration, when his cronies enriched their friends to a startling degree.
If you want something specific to bet on, I'd be interested in a bet on the mid-terms. I'm expecting a fierce backlash from Trump supporters, when their healthcare implodes, their taxes don't change, and their jobs don't magically rematerialize. I don't have £1000 though.

[I'm happy to split up the £1k,but I'm not terribly interested in the mid terms, they don't really intersect with any of the things I was talking about. I forgot to include repeal-or-not-ACA in my list of predictions, I see. That was an oversight, but I'm not sure what I would predict. I think I would predict... needing to fling some raw meat to their ideologues, but not wishing to piss people off who rely on it, but maybe ideology will win. Not sure -W]

By Nick Barnes (not verified) on 22 Jan 2017 #permalink

I know it should be a minor point, but Marco is correct about MiniTruth. In his announcement Sean Spicer [1] is lying about Metro ridership to prove his point, using Trump's (presumably) all day ridership (420k) to compare it to Obama 2013 ridership up to 11 am (317k), without saying so.

If you look at it using apples to apples comparisons [3], ridership up to 11am:
Obama 2009: 513k
Obama 2013: 317k
Trump 2017: 197k (Spicer: 420k, all day?)
Women's March 2017: 275k [4] (>597k as of 4p.m. [5])

So Spicer goes out with an extra press announcement only to spout lies about easily verifyable facts, which are of no import other than offending the selfimage of P45. And this is just the start of the Trump presidency. Living inside a news bubble is bad, for POTUS to do so is scary, to say the least. It falls in line with Trump's interview/stream of conciousness for Times and Bild.

[1] https://youtu.be/9AjjVMAdWm4?t=1h33m20s
[2] https://youtu.be/9AjjVMAdWm4?t=1h35m43s
[3] https://twitter.com/wmata/status/822482330346487810
[4] https://twitter.com/wmata/status/822841417475223552
[5] https://twitter.com/wmata/status/822917042516934657

I fully expect Trump to get away with a lot of stuff, but that's because he not only has Congress and the FBI on his side, he has a compliant press corps. The American press is not at all like the British press: all major outlets in the US are between center-right and far right. We have our Murdoch properties, as you do, but there is nothing in the US comparable to the Guardian.

I will make a prediction about when Trump's impeachment will happen: when keeping him in office becomes more of a threat to Republicans' reelection chances than opposing him, and not a day sooner. As things now stand, they fear a challenge from the right if they are seen as insufficiently supportive of Trump. Many of them have no reason to fear a challenge from the left because they are in districts whose boundaries were drawn to make them safe Republican seats.

The way gerrymandering typically works is that you sacrifice a few seats to your opponents and crowd as many of their voters as you can into those districts, while you give your party the balance of the seats with a smaller but still comfortable margin for your party. An extreme example is the current state legislature in North Carolina: the voter split between Democrats and Republicans is close to 50-50, but Republicans hold more than 2/3 of the seats. But if you get a wave election like the 2006 mid-terms, this procedure can backfire if the generic preference for the other party exceeds the margin by which your party's candidates would be expected to win in a typical election. We will see whether something like that happens in 2018.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 22 Jan 2017 #permalink

You say "I am, as you know, no student of USAnian politics." So then are you counting yourself among the "ignorant armies"?

[Possibly. Or it might be my becoming English modesty. It's so hard to tell -W]

By Raymond Arritt (not verified) on 22 Jan 2017 #permalink

I believe the effects of the Trump administration on the wider economy might weigh heavier than your predictions. A weaker dollar, tariffs, other facets of protectionism may reverse recent growth.

[Could be; we'll see. The Economist was worrying about the opposite: small boom, interest rates up, stronger dollar, trouble for foreign economies that borrow in dollars, etc -W]

Hope I'm wrong--and I may well be. I predicted Hillary in an easy win. But that's where I think the biggest economic dangers lie.

By Tom Fuller (not verified) on 22 Jan 2017 #permalink

Trump is a huge unknown.

If you think you know what he is going to try and do, I think you are probably wrong.

He has no loyalties, other than to himself.

He does not know the Constitution, and doesn't care.

He has the only solution to every problem. No one else has it.

In short, he walks, talks and quacks just like ... El Duce.

Yet, is true that he might not be El Duce. We just don't know.

Suppose I bet that a 10km asteroid will strike the Earth. If it does, I can't collect, even if I'm still alive. If it doesn't, I must pay.

Some bets can't be won.

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 22 Jan 2017 #permalink

"All the stories about Trump deleting data will turn out to be nonsense6. All the people squirrelling data away will look stupid, and will do their best to quietly forget they ever did it or suggested it, or pretend it never happened."

But there's a risk (small, but probably not non-negligible) he or his appointees will delete it, or try to. I think, as a safety measure, it's worth backing up just in case.

By Miguelito (not verified) on 22 Jan 2017 #permalink

Global warming: it has already disappeared from the Whitehouse website, took less than 24 hours.

[So what? No data was lost. And that was probably just part of the std administration-shift clearout -W]

Various mechanisms will be used to pull the teeth of the vast scientific consensus, not least, spurious legal challenges, such as Lamar Smith demanding every email that every well-known climate scientists has ever written or received (already happened). It doesn't suit the ubermeme, climate science will be deconstructed systematically in the USA, at the least from the Government's POV.

[Yeah yeah yeah. But what *consequences* will that have? -W]

Civil Liberties: by at least some accounts these have been being eroded persistently for several years already, there is no reason to assume that this ongoing process will stop. Note the well-attested attitude to John Lewis, for example.

[Errm, so certainly nothing to blame Trump for then, if this has been going on for years. He has only just got into power -W]

Trade: well, they've already said that NAFTA is going. One supposes they could not do this, and simply claim that the media lied when they reported it the first time round.

[Have you not realised yet that Trump says lots of things he has no intention of doing? They're just words to him -W]

Diplomacy: there have already been so many examples of re-writing the rules, such as self-contradiction and downright lies, that no diplomat with any sense will ever trust anything they are told, even if it is written in triplicate and signed in blood. All bets are off. At the least, the US position on most important issues will be increasingly marginalised, if they have a position which is meaningful in the first place.
Business: it is naive to imagine that such deregulation or liberalisation would result in an increase of money into the system, or the markets, in any way other than that which enriches the already enriched.
Opposition: you are correct that a lot of this is mechanical and automatic, and not well-focused. But on the other hand, misogyny, racism and nationalism are now acceptable modes of being, sanctioned at the highest level. Do you think the US will be a better place as a consequence?
Blow-up: Possibility 1: it turns out, after all, that this running a country is just too much for the man to take, and he either has a breakdown, a burn out or a major brain fart, or just hands over all the work to the lovely people in his administration. Possibility 2: He just pushes the whole thing a bit too far, and the entire mechanism of checks and balances which is notable by its absence right now, suddenly decides to get its arse into gear and find a way to neutralise him. I give him 2 years max., either way.

Overall: Anything that can be cocked-up will be, including all the things you mention here. America will be even more of a mess by the time he is removed from from office than it was when he started. China's ever-developing hold on the World will increase more rapidly as a result.
No money: I don't have the luxury of a spare £1,000. We'll see who got closest in 2 years time, on the 22 Jan 2019, if we get that far...

By Fergus Brown (not verified) on 22 Jan 2017 #permalink

WC writes: [So what? No data was lost. And that was probably just part of the std administration-shift clearout -W]

Ah, then messaging, advertising, emphasis .... communication play no part at all in policy. Good to know.
Also good to know the odds of good climate policy coming out of the US White House apparently haven't changed at all. Or at least the fact they've 'disappeared' the issue from their corner of the intertubes is not indicative of anything.

Those who look at it is an omen of things to come are wrong.

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 22 Jan 2017 #permalink

I would suggest what Trump doesn't do will be interesting. Likely he won't oppose Congressional moves to increase the deficit by starting a new obscenely big bubble of some sort but projecting the growth into the future to make the books look balanced. Congress can harry their "enemies of the people" to heart attacks if they desire, with 10 hours of compelled daily testimony in perpetuity. He won't stop that.

The Supreme Court is where the real knives will be drawn.

By Russell the Stout (not verified) on 22 Jan 2017 #permalink

Australian extreme conservatives are already agitating to get the Renewable Energy Target killed because of Trumps' energy/climate policies. Don't think this affects just the USA.

By Toby Brown (not verified) on 22 Jan 2017 #permalink

> [So what? No data was lost. And that was probably just part of the std administration-shift clearout -W]

Not data, just the public-facing acknowledgement of one of the defining issues of our time, in line with comments made prior to this week, and as expected by his opponents. I'm almost tempted to offer a bet on how long it will take before there is any kind of replacement statement.

> [Yeah yeah yeah. But what *consequences* will that have? -W]
Well, it had consequence for Clinton, irrespective of the content. It's part of a pattern, I'm surprised you can't see it.

[Sorry, I don't understand what you mean by that -W]

> [Errm, so certainly nothing to blame Trump for then, if this has been going on for years. He has only just got into power -W]
Well, he hasn't had the chance yet, and let's skip the 'blame' thing, You said you think they will be 'essentially unaffected'. I think you are in dreamland on this.

> [Have you not realised yet that Trump says lots of things he has no intention of doing? They’re just words to him -W]
Do you assume I am stupid? It would fit the pattern for them to decide they want to rewrite NAFTA with more favourable terms; whether you could call this 'ripping it up' is a nicety.

[No, you aren't. So why are you talking of "them saying" as though that made it certain, or even very likely, that it would happen? -W]

It isn't that I am at great odds with you about certain things; people opposing for the sake of it is pointless and boring. But I would argue that the weight of evidence so far (if one can accept anything these days as evidence, given their lackadaisical attitude to truth or fact) is not running in favour of your conclusions.

You sometimes tend to be dismissive abut details which don't seem important to you, without taking into account the possible significance of such actions in the US which, whether we like it or not, is important in climate action. I'm doing my best to try to keep you honest :) .

By Fergus Brown (not verified) on 22 Jan 2017 #permalink

Is this a one-term or two-term prediction? Reason for my question is that my prediction, that I'd bet money over, re climate science is that no big-ticket climate science authorization will occur under Trump. e.g. a successor to Orbiting Climate Observatory 2. I'll acknowledge that no big-ticket item was pending anyway AFAIK for the next four years, but over eight years of the Hillary administration I'd guess there would have been a good chance of something happening. E.g. OCO-2 was a relaunch of OCO-1 built in 2008, so by 2024 there would be reason to look for the next iteration.

So William, do you agree with me that this is a difference from a Hillary administration?

The other unknown is Trump's tax policies. They make no sense and would explode the deficit. What the Republicans will do in response isn't clear, i.e. reverse the policies, cut everything they don't care about (in which case 50% climate science cut is really possible) or simply spend us into oblivion. Here again, effects may take two terms to play out.

A year from now may be a good time to revisit these predictions once we see what happens with taxes.

[Oh, things are so uncertain I think one-term makes more sense. Just not-getting another big-ticket item would be a rather small "reversal" I'd say; surely trump is going to do worse than that? As for policies that make no sense: yes, agreed, if you just believe what he says. But he just says stuff almost at random depending on what he thinks people want to hear so I'm not sure those count as actual policies -W]

By Brian A Schmidt (not verified) on 22 Jan 2017 #permalink

I agree it's unlikely that data will be destroyed, but also think that the chance is nonzero. The fears are probably overblown but people can disagree as to the risk, and therefore whether precautionary action is worthwhile.

We renew our home insurance every year. If the house doesn't burn down we feel lucky, not "stupid." I suspect those who think the risk of data loss is higher than you and me will feel likewise when the data don't disappear.

By Raymond Arritt (not verified) on 22 Jan 2017 #permalink

This is a useful exercise I think.

I'll expand on my prior prediction regarding big-ticket climate science. I predict and will bet money that climate science funding will not increase under Trump, and that this is different from what a Hillary administration would have proposed (whether she'd get it through Congress is another matter, but at least she'd try).

Obviously we'll never know what Hillary would've tried, so you can accept that particular argument or not, but I think it's pretty obvious. The prediction about Trump is testable though. The inflation-adjusted amount spent on climate science in the FY 2020 budget won't be higher than that in FY 2016.

Figuring out what counts as the climate science budget would likely be tricky.

By Brian A Schmidt (not verified) on 22 Jan 2017 #permalink

Have you not realised yet that Trump says lots of things he has no intention of doing? They’re just words to him -W

The problem is, he also says lots of things that he does intend to do. How do we tell in advance which is which?

[You can't -W]

For example, his promises to stop US action on climate change have thus far been borne out in his actions: appointing an EPA chief who as Oklahoma Attorney General filed multiple lawsuits against the EPA, the agency tasked with regulating pollutants including (as the Supreme Court has ruled) carbon dioxide.

[Not really. Appointing people shows intent, but isn't actually action -W]

Back when the Soviet Union was still in existence, there was a field called Kremlinology, whose practitioners tried to infer what was actually happening in Moscow from what government officials were saying, and what they were not saying. We'll need similar experts to decipher Trump's plans.

[Yes, and it was a largely stupid field mostly intended to fill the media's appetite for news, which was in turn feeding the public. I'm saying, stop paying attention to all the that drivel -W]

As for his battles with the intelligence community, I'd like to see some more evidence before agreeing with your claim that they are over. I've seen a transcript of his speech at the CIA, and found it to be unadulterated word salad. Which is about the kindest description I've heard from anybody I know who actually knows the subject.

[Of course it was word salad. You mistake was to bother read the speech, as I've just said to Nick -W]

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 22 Jan 2017 #permalink

No, it's not just the routine admin handover. The Trump shower are uniquely rubbish. Compare

[Sorry, I don't understand you. And / or we're talking about different things. The quality of the dox they've just stuck up is not my point. What I'm saying is that erasing the old guard's stuff is just par for the course. Do you think Obama retained Bush's stuff? -W]

By Nick Barnes (not verified) on 22 Jan 2017 #permalink

Reading that CIA speech transcript, I am reminded distressingly of my mother, when her vascular dementia started affecting her speech.
Did you see that he bussed flunkies into the CIA speech, to cheer and applaud, just like at his press conference last week?

[I didn't bother actually read the CIA speech. I think you're making a mistake by doing so. Indeed, that's the point of much of this post. Stop paying attention to every word, or indeed every speech. The only thing that the CIA speech meant was "OK, I dissed you before (but, you know, I was only doing that because I didn't want to seem beholden to Putin for the job) but I'm now happy to make peace". None of the details matter at all -W]

By Nick Barnes (not verified) on 22 Jan 2017 #permalink

Not even going to attempt wager (sorry).

Another fine example of not helping their cause stories was a good friend who shared that he's one of the 71% (ish) who didn't vote for Trump. Thereby disagreeing with the authority of all presidents that have been elected by the people. Including Obama.

By Ian Jones (not verified) on 23 Jan 2017 #permalink

Re: #11

I believe the effects of the Trump administration on the wider economy might weigh heavier than your predictions. A weaker dollar, tariffs, other facets of protectionism may reverse recent growth.

[Could be; we’ll see. The Economist was worrying about the opposite: small boom, interest rates up, stronger dollar, trouble for foreign economies that borrow in dollars, etc -W]

Well, one of those will probably be right, allowing somebody to claim victory...

I tend to feel that the link between politics and the economy is a good deal weaker than most people seem to believe. Various economic indicators are always bouncing around one way or another, and you can usually pick some to make whatever argument you like. It's not quite as bad as the mediaeval belief that a good king would bring fair weather and good harvests, but it's not that far off...

Looks like the 'Bumbling incompetent' gambit - he will be too busy spouting off, offending people and doing unpleasant-sounding but superficial things to actually do much serious damage.

And if he gets around to a standard-issue debt-financed infrastructure bill he might even generate some jobs. By all accounts the US needs some infrastructure work, and it seems a fact of US politics that only Republicans are 'allowed' to deficit spend.

Personally hoping that he doesn't get impeached/assassinated, the VP looks a much more focused nasty piece of work..

By Andrew J Dodds (not verified) on 23 Jan 2017 #permalink

I wonder how far this goes. If Trump gives up any pretense of making sense and begins just howling and throwing poo, will we be told to ignore it as it's all for show? Granted, we remember Hunter Thompson's description of the press, but we don't usually elect those to office.

By Russell the Stout (not verified) on 23 Jan 2017 #permalink

Russell -

Think Yeltsin at his most drunk.. World leaders can get away with some incredible things simply because there isn't anyone to bring the hammer down.

By Andrew J Dodds (not verified) on 23 Jan 2017 #permalink

You're missing my point about the website, or possibly we're talking past each other. Of course incoming administrations get rid of old stuff. But they usually replace it with something with content. What we see right now at whitehouse.gov is *not* business as usual. That's my point: this transition is not normal for transitions. You seem to be saying that it is.

[Sorry, I thought we were talking - as so many others were - about how-terrible-it-is-that-they've-taken-down-Obama's-pages. But we're not; we're both agreed that's perfectly normal (and therefore that the idiots whinging are just idiots whinging). That the new content is junk is a different matter. I'm not quite sure if you're saying it really is, objectively, junk; or just policy that you don't like -W]

By Nick Barnes (not verified) on 23 Jan 2017 #permalink

As for "None of the details matter at all", doesn't it matter whether this man is competent, at a really basic level?

[Of course. By "None of the details matter at all" I mean "it is not worth interpreting the details of what he says". Because they aren't thought out. they are off the cuff. They are what he feels at that given moment. They are mood music. Isn't this... obvious? Why are people still poring through the details (I mean sensible people, of course. The meeja are, to feed their machine. But why are sensible people paying attention?) -W]

By Nick Barnes (not verified) on 23 Jan 2017 #permalink

By “None of the details matter at all” I mean “it is not worth interpreting the details of what he says”. Because they aren’t thought out. they are off the cuff. They are what he feels at that given moment.

That may be true of President Scheisskopf[1] himself, but you can be sure that somebody in his administration has thought out, or is thinking out, these details. We know that President Scheisskopf does not like to answer questions at press conferences. The only other option for interpreting his statements is Kremlinology. And his actions to date have been mostly consistent with his statements on the campaign trail. Since you're in the UK, you may be able to get away with ignoring those details, but those of us on the other side of the pond don't have that luxury.

[1]A reference to a character in Catch-22 who shares the President's fetish for military parades.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 23 Jan 2017 #permalink


lists $800 million potential costs cuts at EPA and calls this gutting the EPA.
That is about 10% of $8 billion budget.

10% gets called gutting there. On the other hand, you say not much effect and considering less than 50% cuts to climate research is not gutting. Seems like there is plenty of scope to use terms as you intend them to be meant so you are not proved wrong.

[That's interesting. They can use words as they like; I carefully defined mine to be 50% or more. And that list is a leaked one so not verifiable; I would be very cautious of such over-excitable stuff -W]

"But why are sensible people paying attention?"

The only thing worse than watching a rattlesnake is not watching a rattlesnake.

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 23 Jan 2017 #permalink

WC - Whenever I get enraged about your left-wing bias and plan to smite you hip and thigh you come up with an amazingly sensible post like this one. It strikes me that the most negative possibility of Trump would be his triggering a nasty trade war.

[:-) -W]

Hat tip to: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/01/23/on…

A new report,
released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the last day of Barack Obama’s presidency, presents a series of updated estimates for future sea-level rise, both in the United States and worldwide. It suggests that, under extreme future climate change, global sea levels could rise by more than eight feet by the end of the century — one of the highest estimates yet to be presented in a federal report.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 23 Jan 2017 #permalink

The new web site is (a) exceedingly thin, compared to Obama's site on day 1, and (b) of course full of insanity. Given that we got a GOP president, (b) was inevitable whichever GOP candidate was still in the clown car when the wheels fell off and the engine exploded (This particular flavour of insanity seems likely to do more damage to the US economy and to geopolitics than some of the more mainstream candidates would have delivered, but even the mainstream ones were full of crazy talk like the gold standard, ditching the Iran deal, or picking on some other Middle-Eastern country for the Tom Friedman treatment). But not so much (a), which I think is a true symptom of a broken transition. Where's the detailed 100-days policy agenda, the twenty executive orders on the first afternoon, the dozen bills before Congress this week?

[It probably is thin. I haven't checked. TBH, I didn't actually *read* anything on the Obama WH site while he was in office. Did you (or anyone else reading this)? I could speculate that the content will flesh out over time: did O's turn up fully fledged? But also, Trump is more twitter-y than web-y. Maybe if you were a Trump supporter you'd say "look at how thin O's tweeting record is compared to T's".

I should say that I'm really only putting his side as he might were he intelligent enough to do so; I'm not trying to argue he's a good repz or anything like that -W]

By Nick Barnes (not verified) on 23 Jan 2017 #permalink

Yeltsin does come to mind often, lately.

By Russell the Stout (not verified) on 23 Jan 2017 #permalink

And after Yeltsin came ...

By David B. Benson (not verified) on 23 Jan 2017 #permalink


Another way Trump will affect climate science - the fainthearted ones who don't have to engage with climate science simply walk away from it.

And it's just Day 4.

[The actual direct effect of that will be small; it would just be talk. I've said similar before. But as an indication of how the weak are trying to second-guess the will of the mighty and self-censor it's bad -W]

By Brian A Schmidt (not verified) on 24 Jan 2017 #permalink

I tend to agree with this post. I think Trump is an oaf, but the anti-him chatter is filled with quite a bit of nonsense, unfortunately, and is serving as you describe - not that reasonable criticism would make his supporters any more attentive.

I checked the climate reference deletion story as soon as I read the claim. Nope, the White House website was cleaned out for the incoming tenants, as usual, and the Trump admin has begun refilling it. Yes, there's no mention of climate change (which is desultory), but there is mention of emissions reductions. "Trump [or his admin] deleted all mentions of climate change" is a canard.

Correction - emissions reductions is mentioned on the us.gov website, not WhiteHouse.gov

That was why I posted a wayback link to O's site on his first day. The reason they have a 10 week transition period is so the new prez can hit the ground running and there's no hiatus, unlike the next-morning arrangement we have here (which we can do because of the permanent civil service and because quite a lot of transition planning is done before GEs).

By Nick Barnes (not verified) on 24 Jan 2017 #permalink

#35. A thin-skinned megalomaniac now controls the nuclear codes?

And the worst that can happen is just a trade war and resulting depression?

[Of course not. But I'm not discussing worst-cases; I'm trying to discuss most-probable cases -W]

I wish I could believe that.

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 24 Jan 2017 #permalink

"You know who obsessed about crowd size? Fidel Castro. You know who did not? George Washington, John Adams, Andrew Jackson, FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Reagan, Clinton, and every other man to ever serve as president of these United States of America."

"He(Trump) is unlikely to be contained by norms and customs, or even by laws and the Constitution. For Mr. Trump, nothing is sacred. The truth is malleable, instrumental, subjective. It is all about him. It is always about him."

"He will also go in search of enemies — the press, the opposition party, other nations, even Republican leaders — in order to create diversions that inflame his most loyal supporters. And when he locates his targets, he will do what is second nature to him, which is to try to delegitimize and destroy them. What’s different now is that he will have the additional, awesome power of the presidency at his disposal."


I'm sure we disagree on the most probable outcomes. The sorting has begun. How are you going to sort out?

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 24 Jan 2017 #permalink

From Environmental Economics, 1-24-2017

"The Climate and Health Summit, which had been in the works for months, was intended as a chance for public health officials around the country to learn more about the mounting evidence of the risks to human health posed by the changing climate. But CDC officials abruptly canceled the conference before President Trump’s inauguration, sending a terse email on Jan. 9 to those who had been scheduled to speak at the event. The message did not explain the reason behind the decision."

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 24 Jan 2017 #permalink


"President Donald Trump intends to sign two executive actions today that would advance construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, according to a person familiar with the matter."

One step closer to Hansen's "game over" scenario.

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 24 Jan 2017 #permalink

Phil Hays -

I think Trump is manipulating the media and he is winning. You are forgetting that it was the mainstream media (Reuters) that brought up the whole crowd size issue and made a big deal of it to proclaim that "Obama's crowd was bigger than Trump's".

So maybe a whole list of notable presidents did not care about crowd size. But then why does the media? Does it reflect immaturity on their part? He is throwing their ridiculous strategy back in their faces.

Tom C, Trump had earlier announced that his inauguration would draw an "unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout." During the campaign Trump also frequently referred to the crowd sizes he attracted as something to consider.

In other words, it isn't the media that started it, but it was the only that spread facts. Consider that carefully when you laud Trump's strategy of countering the factually correct media narrative by spreading "alternative facts" (aka "lies").

Marco -

I am not claiming that Trump tells the truth. He obviously does not. He is so over the top (e.g. Ted Cruz's father was involved in JFK assassination) that it represents a deliberate strategy of "gaslighting".

That said, if you think the mainstream media are "factually correct" you are deluded. What we have here is liars complaining that a liar is lying.

Sorry, the thread's gone long past this, but for politeness sake:
[No, you aren’t. So why are you talking of “them saying” as though that made it certain, or even very likely, that it would happen? -W]
Here I'm using 'them" to refer to the new team, since not everything will go through the Grand Kebab's twitter account. "They" don't seem to be wasting much time enacting legislation under executive powers (thereby bypassing the supposedly democratic process of taking stuff through the two houses) in line with the 'promises' made previously.
I'm still unclear why you think this is not necessarily indicative of Bad Things Ahead. I'd bet not every promise will be kept, but I'd also bet that more will be, in line with the past two days' evidence.
@ Tom C, 50: My eyes are literally crossing at this.

By Fergus Brown (not verified) on 24 Jan 2017 #permalink

Now that an 8 foot rise in the next 83 years has appeared in a Federal report, - that's ~ 2.44 cm a year, would any of the authors care to bet on the first year in which global mean sea level rises one whole centimeter ?

I'll lay an ounce of gold at 2.44 to 1 against that year coming on Trump's watch.

By Russell Seitz (not verified) on 24 Jan 2017 #permalink

So it begins:
Kate Sheppard @kate_sheppard 1h1 hour ago

Kate Sheppard Retweeted Badlands Nat'l Park

I salute you, Badlands National Park tweeter who is probably going to get fired but is going out in style.

Kate Sheppard added,
Badlands Nat'l Park @BadlandsNPS
Today, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years. #climate
87 replies 3,950 retweets 6,792 likes
Kate Sheppard @kate_sheppard 4h4 hours ago

We're being told the limits on external comms are also happening at HHS & USDA's research service. w/ @samsteinhp
19 replies 121 retweets 50 likes

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 24 Jan 2017 #permalink

No social media will be going out.
A Digital Strategist will be coming on board to oversee social media. Existing, individually controlled, social media accounts may become more centrally controlled.
No blog messages.
The Beach Team will review the list of upcoming webinars and decide which ones will go forward.
Please send me a list of any external speaking engagements that are currently scheduled among any of your staff from today through February.
Incoming media requests will be carefully screened.
No new content can be placed on any website. Only do clean up where essential.
List servers will be reviewed. Only send out critical messages, as messages can be shared broadly and end up in the press.

that's from:

Hmmm, "A Digital Strategist will be coming on board to oversee social media." -- job opening posted somewhere?

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 24 Jan 2017 #permalink

In the UK, via NHS, contraception is ~free as is abortion advice at least.

Trump has said women should be punished for abortions, and Pence signed a law outlawing abortions even for Downs, led fight to defund Planned Parenthood (whose abortion work is ~3%).

They haven't gotten as far as New Bill Aims to Make Abortion a Felony in Texas, but TX leads, including on executions or felony-murder. I don't think this one will get too far, but that's not the only group that thinks abortion = felony.

01/24/17 House Passes Bill To Bar Federal Funds For Abortion Coverage
"The measure, which passed 238-183, would also block tax credits for some people and businesses buying abortion coverage under former President Barack Obama's health care law."

Then Trump Didn’t Just Reinstate the Global Gag Rule. He Massively Expanded It
"In the past, the global gag rule meant that foreign NGOs must disavow any involvement with abortion in order to receive U.S. family planning funding. Trump’s version of the global gag rule expands the policy to all global health funding. According to Ehlers, the new rule means that rather than impacting $600 million in U.S. foreign aid, the global gag rule will affect $9.5 billion. Organizations working on AIDS, malaria, or maternal and child health will have to make sure that none of their programs involves so much as an abortion referral."

Well, that's not US.

Then, Trump has been (falsely) claiming 3-5M fraudulent votes.
In the US, such claims have generally been used to suppress voting, so I'd expect to see a lot more of that beyond waht was done this time. The AG nominee Sessions wants to eliminate what's left of the Voting Rights Act.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 24 Jan 2017 #permalink

Myron Ebell, who led President Donald Trump’s EPA transition process, said it was to “make sure nothing happens they don’t want to have happen.”

King Canute Lives

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 24 Jan 2017 #permalink

"A combination of "nut" (i.e., insane person) and "cherry picking", nut picking refers to intentionally seeking out extremely fringe, non-representative statements and/or individuals from members of an opposing group and parading these as evidence of that entire group's incompetence or irrationality."
From the article on "straw man" in Wikipedia.

Actually I appreciate what our host is saying here. I also however predict a lot of mayhem from Trump and his gang.

By Russell the Stout (not verified) on 24 Jan 2017 #permalink

Trump might not cause a lot of mayhem. He might get started with bunga bunga parties and lose track of time.
On the other hand, he might not.

#52. Still trolling for suckers, eh?

Rate of sea level rise isn't linear, as you so kindly seem to suggest and assume. Rather the rate would be increasing with time, perhaps closer to a (as Hansen suggests) 10 to 40 year doubling period.

So the current ~0.3 cm per year would less than double over Trump's term. Even if he gets two. Even

Less of a problem for us old fellows. The kids better worry.

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 24 Jan 2017 #permalink

Why would "It would be a strange decision"?

Seems very likely to me.

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 25 Jan 2017 #permalink


One idea Elon Musk and Rex tillerson agree on - a carbon tax!

Elon Musk: ... This may sound surprising coming from me, but I agree with The Economist. Rex Tillerson has the potential to be an excellent Sec of State.
... Rex is an exceptionally competent executive, understands geopolitics and knows how to win for his team. His team is now the USA.
... I share The Economist's opinion that he should be given the benefit of the doubt unless his actions prove otherwise
... Tillerson at his confirmation hearing: "I think it’s important that the United States maintain its seat at the table in the conversation
... on how to address threats of climate change. They do require a global response."
Tillerson also said that “the risk of climate change does exist” and he believed “action should be taken"
(To @MichaelEMann:) I'm just saying that we should see what happens first. The actions may be surprising.
Rex Tillerson supports a carbon tax. This is what is really needed to move the needle.

[Nice to see. Requires more, but it is a start -W]

All the stories about Trump deleting data will turn out to be nonsense
How robust is data storage against lack of funding, personell attrition, and/or closing of departments due to "refocusing of resources"? Remember how Canada under Harper lost a few archives and parts of the library infrastructure.

[Did Canada lose any *data*? -W]

" "It's certainly the case that every administration tries to control information, but I think that what we're seeing here is much more sweeping than has ever been done before," said Andrew Light, the distinguished senior fellow in the Global Climate Program at the nonpartisan World Resources Institute. "And in particular, it's noteworthy that it seems to be aimed at a cluster of science-driven agencies that primarily work on the environment and climate change."

While previous administrations have restricted government scientists' communications to the public, controlling their scientific conclusions is far more rare.
Any review would directly contradict the agency's current scientific integrity policy"

more than norm?

1984 is #1 on Amazon

[Did Canada lose any *data*? -W]

"The Department has claimed that all useful information from the closed libraries is available in digital form. This is simply not true. Much of the material is lost forever," reports one DFO scientist who requested not to be named.

[Yeah, but: if this was actually interesting, wouldn't someone have gone back now (there's a new govt everyone agrees is climate-friendly) and asked the anonymous scientist? It seems to me that people are interested in the concept of data loss as a stick to beat their enemies with, they show precious little interest in the actual data that was supposedly lost -W]

Also closed were the Freshwater Institute library in Winnipeg and the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland, both world-class collections. Hundreds of years of carefully compiled research into aquatic systems, fish stocks and fisheries from the 1800s and early 1900s went into the bin or up in smoke.

I am unsure, whether or not one-of-a-kind material was destroyed because it was considered not worth preservation, but due to lack of timely digitization large amounts of data seem to be unavailable to researchers and are in that sense lost.

[So, it's all a bit vague and short of detail, isn't it? And... why did none of these scientists take any of this oh-so-valuable data back home? Did they not care? -W]


Yep, truckloads of data picked up that would have gone to the dump, this says. You can look this stuff up.

[""The Department withdrew obvious duplicates from its collections and approached universities, academics, museums, community and non-government organizations, and other libraries and offered materials in the collection that were outside of the department's mandate," the department told DeSmog via e-mail." You're just making the same mistake as everyone else. Unthinkingly assuming data was actually lost without evidence -W]

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 25 Jan 2017 #permalink

Off-topic but it seems that Parliament is going to have to approve Brexit.

By David B. Benson (not verified) on 25 Jan 2017 #permalink

It seems to me that people are interested in the concept of data loss as a stick to beat their enemies with, they show precious little interest in the actual data that was supposedly lost

Or maybe, because the data is now lost we can't work out what was lost.

And… why did none of these scientists take any of this oh-so-valuable data back home? Did they not care? -W

They may have been prevented from doing so. At one place where I worked, the computers were configured so that users could not upload data to memory sticks. Or it could have been illegal to do so.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 26 Jan 2017 #permalink

Policies can be reversed, quickly, as we are witnessing now (although infrastructure is hard to get rid of once built). I am more worried about useful norms being thrown out the window, and have no trust that they will be restored once Trump is gone (by either party). Devaluing of truth/alternative facts/fake news*, relationships between the Whitehouse and media, dealing with conflict of interest, etc.
The following don't seem entirely consistent to me.

> All the people squirrelling data away will look stupid, and will do their best to quietly forget they ever did it or suggested it, or pretend it never happened.

> And… why did none of these scientists take any of this oh-so-valuable data back home? Did they not care?

[I deny inconsistency. In the first one, we're talking about (what appear to me to be) hysterical fears of data loss. In the second, a (so I am told) actual case of data loss, which no-one gave a toss about. My suggestion was that if they gave a toss, and the "data loss" involved actual physical objects in front of their very faces, why didn't they do anything? I would have, in their place. My belief, however, is that the reason they did nothing was that there was actually nothing to do -W]
*effects seen here (many Trump voters have false beliefs about easily verifiable facts - unemployment rates, stocks, ....)


Jim Hansen is still waiting to see the 1989 rate double.

Why not take my bet, Phil, and pray for an instant replay of the Younger Dryas?

By Russell Seitz (not verified) on 26 Jan 2017 #permalink


I'd rather pray we don't see a replay of MWP1A.

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 26 Jan 2017 #permalink

I suspect that the most apt description of the Trump presidency will be "chaos"

there will always be competing personalities, subtle differences in agenda's in any enterprise - but I suspect it will be amplified with a personality cult at its head

people/organisations will be played off against each other - Bannon, (or maybe Jared) I suspect will control access to Trump and become quite powerful

Phil Hays #74 --- Ah, but we will have a replay of Meltwater Pulse 1a. Just be a bit patient.

By David B. Benson (not verified) on 26 Jan 2017 #permalink

"And lastly, Trump’s conflicts were known before Congress ratified the results of the election, which probably amounts to “Consent”."

Congress can't consent to what isn't known.

[Isn't that a rather stupid comment? I've just pointed out that these conflicts *were* known. All the ones being talked about were known beforehand -W]

King Charles II of England was on the payroll of King Louis XIV of France. The details were not known for a hundred years. See "Secret Treaty of Dover".

Disclosure is required for consent.

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 26 Jan 2017 #permalink

William, this
looks to be a better explanation of the ice age forcings. Can you please pass this on to whoever edits the Wikipedia page on Milankovitch cycles?

[It is a new thing; it may pan out, or may not. The talk page is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Milankovitch_cycles; the "edit" tab is at the top :-). Don't forget to register an account if you want your IP to be hidden -W]

By David B. Benson (not verified) on 27 Jan 2017 #permalink

Postanthropothals may replace H. sap. before then.

By Russell Seitz (not verified) on 27 Jan 2017 #permalink

> [Isn’t that a rather stupid comment? I’ve just pointed out that these conflicts *were* known. All the ones being talked about were known beforehand -W]

Isnt it how they are handled once he takes office? Yes they are known beforehand, but they could have been dealt with/minimised, like putting his dealings in a blind trust (as he said he would before being elected) or not mentioning matters affecting his business to members of foreign governments (eg, wind farms near golf courses).

So disagree it amounts to consent, and even it does, consent doesnt make something right.

[Why do you disagree? *You* didn't consent, but they aren't asking your opinion. The question is, did Congress consent? And clearly it did. If it hadn't, it wouldn't have approved him.

It seems to me that what you've written is besides the point -W]

Congress can’t consent to what isn’t known.

"Isn’t that a rather stupid comment? I’ve just pointed out that these conflicts *were* known. All the ones being talked about were known beforehand -W"

Oh I just love your confident assertions about things you know nothing about.

There are a lot of Trump's business entanglements that are just not known. Some of the conflicts are known, and this is what are being discussed. The backdrop to these discussions is the lack of disclosure.

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 27 Jan 2017 #permalink

#76. Does look more and more like you are going to be correct.

The good news/bad news part is that Trump will very likely not have to deal with it.

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 27 Jan 2017 #permalink

Trump: I will put my businesses in a blind trust, manage conflicts of interest...
Congress: "Ok, consent given"
Me: "Fair enough Congress"
Trump: "Haha. Suckers"
Me: "Not happy now. Hmmm. It appears WMC does not seem there is any real issue here, but I always misunderstand ppl on the net."

Republican advisors to Bush are saying that he is likely* in violation of emoluments clause and think he should change the situation or get kicked out of office. Do you see conflicts of interest as a non-issue? Perhaps just ppl not liking Trump playing politics, or are you just making the point that you think Congress doesn't see it as an issue.

[OK, that's better. But the bit that people are complaining about is "emoluments" - and they thing that payments by foreign govt to Trump companies might count. But those *were* known beforehand, and Congress didn't object.

> Do you see conflicts of interest as a non-issue?

I think it is an issue; I think your Congress and Senators should be making far more of it.

> consent doesnt make something right

Meh. In what sense are you using the word "right"? If you mean "legally", you're wrong: consent does make it legally right. That's what the law says, no? If you mean "morally"... well, we're not required to agree on an absolute morality -W]

*Very hard to know since uncharted waters

Jan 25, 2017 | 12:31 PM EST
Trump administration tells EPA to cut climate page from website: sources

"If the website goes dark, years of work we have done on climate change will disappear," one of the EPA staffers told Reuters, who added some employees were scrambling to save some of the information housed on the website, or convince the Trump administration to preserve parts of it.


By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 27 Jan 2017 #permalink

Closer to being on the same page than I thought. Yes, I meant morally, and yes [well, we’re not required to agree on an absolute morality -W], although trust me, my present self is ALWAYS morally correct. My past self has been wrong so many times that I am sure it can't possibly happen again.

Right there is the hindsight catbird.

By Russell the Stout (not verified) on 27 Jan 2017 #permalink

Recent events at USDA and other agencies are forming a pattern where Trump's folks impose severe restrictions on communications, which generates substantial pushback, followed by a "clarification" that eases some of the restrictions. This is consistent with Trump's negotiating tactics in his businesses -- open with something outrageous, so later demands seem reasonable in comparison.

The glass-half-full interpretation is that Trump will back off if there's enough resistance. But we have to be careful that we don't accept the followup restrictions simply because they're not as bad.

[That seems a reasonable interpretation. The other part being that you might get lucky, people might not protest, and then you get all you tried to take.

But what I'm missing is the point. Why do all this? It might be to be seen to be doing something, no more than that. It which case even his supporters will get bored of it soon. It might be just an instinctive desire to assert control. But, it just seems so silly -W]

By Raymond Arritt (not verified) on 28 Jan 2017 #permalink

>[Why do all this? It might be to be seen to be doing something, no more than that. It might be just an instinctive desire to assert control. But, it just seems so silly -W]

Isn't it part of the process of making people think he is a loose cannon, so that they take a worse deal out of fear of upsetting him and turning him towards crazy revenge mode?

"But, it just seems so silly -W"

Trump knows that climate change is a Chinese plot.
Trump knows that Mexico is going to pay for the wall.
Trump knows that tariffs will make industry return to the USA.
Trump knows that coal miners will have jobs if we get rid of environmental rules.
Trump knows that Putin can be trusted and that NATO is just a drain on the USA.
Trump knows more than anyone and everyone else.

I'm sure it will turn out well. Aren't you sure?

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 28 Jan 2017 #permalink

Phil Hays, the problem with anaphorical declamations is that after the first few repetitions one stops listening and instead starts to wonder about the mindset of the anaphorist.

So, forgive me, I got a bit lost. Is Trump a good thing or a bad thing?

By Vinny Burgoo (not verified) on 28 Jan 2017 #permalink


Snippet follows:

Yale computer science professor David Gelernter '76 — a potential science advisor to President Donald Trump — told the News he does not believe in man-made climate change in an interview Tuesday afternoon.

"For human beings to change the climate of the planet is a monstrously enormous undertaking," Gelernter said. "I haven't seen convincing evidence of it."

Gelernter had previously expressed skepticism about the reality of man-made climate change in a 2012 book, writing that President Barack Obama was unaware of "gathering scientific doubt" about the causes of climate change.

But in his interview with the News, Gelernter went one step further, arguing that the warming of the planet is likely the result of natural "oscillations" in the Earth's temperature.
---end snippet---

But you wanted to read the whole article, right?

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 30 Jan 2017 #permalink

#92 When you get unlost, do let us know.

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 01 Feb 2017 #permalink

Phil, I assume you meant Vinny's #94, not crandles #92.

Vinny's #94 was just a comment to show that he can misuse multi-syllabic words. Rather showing actual erudition he simply comes off as Vinny.

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 01 Feb 2017 #permalink

I just wrote this to be #100

#99, yes, I typo-ed. #94 is correct.

#100. Isn't #101 better than #100? :-)

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 01 Feb 2017 #permalink

Trump yelled at then hung up on a call to Australia's PM.

"Worst call by far". Worse than even calling Putin. Right.

Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan (R) : “Prime Minister Turnbull was in my office a couple months ago,” he said. “He’s a very important ally. Australia is a very central ally, they are and they will continue to be.”

Was that "How to Win Friends and Influence Enemies"?

Or the satirical version. "How to Gain Enemies and Piss Off Friends"?

I can't find it on line. Best I can find is


So Trump can do it better next call, or better yet visit.

From Americanistan the soon to be friendless.

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 03 Feb 2017 #permalink

#101 yes... but if I'd written two useless posts to secure #101, I'd have been sent to the bad persons' blog page

+1 Phil Hayes @ #34.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

Oh, and Millennium Bug.

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 19 Feb 2017 #permalink

John Brunner:

"What sanity consists in is doing what the planet you live on will accept.

(Bedlam Planet, 1968)

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 19 Feb 2017 #permalink


Almost 20 years ago, the U.S. Energy Information Administration had an idea: Make an educational website for children about energy sources and the science behind them.

In short order, the EIA created "Energy Kids," which now features energy-themed Sudoku and crossword puzzles, colorful pie charts, and a know-it-all mascot called Energy Ant. Images of a school bus parked between a coal plant and an oil rig adorn the bottom of the web page, along with drawings of wind turbines, solar panels, and an energy-efficient lightbulb.

During the Obama administration, Energy Kids even won multiple international awards for its content and design, as well as one from a digital publishing company that hailed it as "the best of the best in open and engaging government."

The Trump administration, it seems, wasn't altogether impressed with the site or its awards. In recent weeks, language on the website describing the environmental impacts of energy sources has been reworked, and two pie charts concerning the link between coal and greenhouse gas emissions have been removed altogether....

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 22 Feb 2017 #permalink

"Energy Star, the program that certifies toasters, air conditioners, computers and buildings for energy efficiency, could be killed by the Trump administration as part of its effort to shrink federal spending.

The administration wants the program to be “zeroed out” in the 2018 Environmental Protection Agency budget, according to news reports and a memo that the EPA provided to the National Association of Clean Air Agencies last week.
The EPA estimated in its most recent Energy Star annual report that the program generated more than $31 billion in annual energy cost savings benefits in 2014 and cut about 5 percent of total U.S. electricity demand that year."


No doubt you will think this good and very minor in effect.

[It seems quite likely that ES is a net benefit, but I'm dubious about the $31 billion number, which appears to be measuring only savings and not costs. See for example https://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/publications/pubdocs/Summary_of_… which as far as I can tell doesn't consider the costs at all -W]

The Energy Star thing is interesting because it combines several broad themes of that guy who signs things for President Bannon.

One is the broad antipathy toward environmental protection. These folks are from the mindset that sees belching smokestacks as a symbol of industrial might. Losing the smoke then becomes a symbol of industrial decline.

Another is bringing back the kinds of jobs that people had in the good old days, like coal mining. What better way to stimulate demand for fossil fuels -- and so create fossil fuel jobs -- than to make energy use less efficient.

And lest we forget, energy efficiency and environmental protection are pet themes of those people. You know, the enemies of all right-thinking Americans.

By Raymond Arritt (not verified) on 10 Mar 2017 #permalink

Well, Trump's "thin" budget is out. The usual practice of Presidents has been to put out an outline "thin" budget first, and a detailed budget later. Then Congress will read the President's budget carefully, and toss into the wastebasket, or use as an excuse for what Congress was going to do anyways.

31% cut to EPA. Cut all funding for climate programs.

Department of State, 31% cut. All climate international programs, cut.

1% cut to NASA. Increase for manned deep space programs. Cuts in funding for Earth science, including climate, however only 5% cut. Will be "re-prioritized" whatever that means. Only one existing satellite cut, and three new satellites cut.

16% to Commerce. NOAA is part of Commerce. Funding for current satellites maintained (some overlap with NASA), but no new ones. NWS seems untouched "maintain funding".


Is one program cut, web page seems unreachable today.


All and all, far fewer cuts than I expected. We will see what Congress does.

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 16 Mar 2017 #permalink

Perhaps you want

Other items noticed:
Zeroes out over $250 million in targeted National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grants and programs supporting coastal and marine management, research, and education including Sea Grant

Focuses funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Office of Nuclear Energy, the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, and the Fossil Energy Research and Development program on limited, early-stage applied energy research and development activities where the Federal role is stronger. In addition, the Budget eliminates the Weatherization Assistance Program and the State Energy Program to reduce Federal intervention in State-level energy policy and implementation. Collectively, these changes achieve a savings of approximately $2 billion from the 2017 annualized CR level.

Ensures the Office of Science continues to invest in the highest priority basic science and energy research and development as well as operation and maintenance of existing scientific facilities for the community. This includes a savings of approximately $900 million compared to the 2017
annualized CR level.

[Some caveats apply: NASA’s Earth Sciences division escaped with lighter overall cuts than advance rumors had implied. But the overall pattern is a stark rejection of the idea that the rise of heat-trapping gases in Earth’s atmosphere, caused by human activities, calls for better understanding and response. I can at least half support that: we already have enough understanding to decide our response, which should be a carbon tax. It does increasingly appear that people are supporting climate research as a kind of proxy for actual action; as though putting relatively small sums into climate research will somehow cause the much larger changes that would actually make sense -W]