• 2017 Set an Astonishing New Temperature Record

    The 2017 temps are in, and NASA reports that 2017 was the second-hottest year on record. On a global basis, 2017 was 0.9ºC hotter than the 20th century average. More importantly, it was the hottest by far outside of El Niño years. 2017 was an astonishing 0.26°C hotter than the previous hottest non-El Niño year.

    Just for a change of pace, though, let’s take a look at temperatures in the northern hemisphere, since that’s where most of us live. For the last couple of decades, the northern hemisphere has been heating up considerably more than the planet as a whole: in 2017, the northern hemisphere was a full 1.11ºC hotter than the 20th century average. Here’s the 50-year temperature record for the northern hemisphere:

    And here are northern hemisphere temps solely for years without an El Niño event. 2017 was 0.28°C hotter than the previous record holder:

    Just more fake news, I suppose.

  • Trump Wants to Hold Little Kids Hostage in Budget Battle

    The latest from President Trump:

    Sure. Let’s hold little kids hostage to our stupid political gameplaying. Just for the record, CHIP is the easiest thing in the world to pass. Everyone is in favor of it. The legislative language is ready to go. And it would cost nothing. There is literally no reason not to reauthorize CHIP unless you think that threatening health care for poor children is an appropriate way to get more leverage in your big-boy games against a party that’s vulnerable because it actually cares about people.

    Then again, Trump is the guy who threatened to cut off health care for his nephew with cerebral palsy as an act of revenge. So I guess we know how he feels about this stuff.

  • Quote of the Day: Anyway, I Like Cars

    Jay Godwin/Planet Pix via ZUMA

    From Vice President Joe Biden:

    I’m a hell of a good driver, man. For eight years, I wasn’t allowed to drive. But I got one chance when Jay Leno said would I drag-race out at their test track Colin Powell in his big Corvette. I actually was able to take him. Then I tried a Porsche and got it up to 182 miles per hour. Anyway, I like cars.

    This is one of the most Biden things ever.

  • Nobody Knows What Trump Wants to Keep the Government Running

    At last week’s big immigration meeting, President Trump said he’d sign whatever bill Congress sent him because he trusts them so much. A lot has changed in the past seven days:

    I guess Trump doesn’t trust Congress anymore. What happened?

  • In the Era of Trump, Everybody Hates Us

    Our official foreign policy these days is not just “America First,” but “Who Cares What All Those Other Weenie Countries Think?” Given that, I suppose there’s no reason to care about the views of the rest of the planet. But just in case you do care, here is Gallup’s latest.

  • Kelly: Trump Has “Evolved” on the Wall

    K.C. Alfred/San Diego Union-Tribune via ZUMA


    President Trump’s chief of staff privately told a group of Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday that Mr. Trump had not been “fully informed” when promising voters a wall along the Mexican border last year, and said that he had persuaded the president it was not necessary….[John F. Kelly] told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that he had educated the president about the issue of immigration, adding that Mr. Trump had “evolved” on the wall.

    The comments were an unusual instance of a White House chief of staff seeming to undercut public statements made by the president, in the process contradicting the central message of “Build the wall” that defined Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign. The president has recently begun to temper his own statements about the wall, telling a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers at the White House last week that a 2,000-mile structure would not be needed because parts of the border would be impassible.

    I have no idea what to say about this. True or not, what could possibly have prompted Kelly to say it?

  • Take My Fake News Poll!

    If Donald Trump can turn his stupid fake news awards into a stupid fundraising poll, so can I. Except that mine won’t raise any money. But at least my stupid poll works, so vote anyway! What’s your favorite fake news outlet of all time?

  • Conservatives Are Sick and Tired of…Something or Other

    Glenn Reynolds tweeted about Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels today:

    Life’s a bitch, isn’t it? Jonah Goldberg responds:

    As for [Glenn’s] point that lots of conservatives are tired of having their principles used against them, this seems incontestable to me. This was a big psychological and political undercurrent among Trump enthusiasts in 2016….And, without spelling it out for liberals who might seem flummoxed by this widespread attitude on the right, I think it’s a legitimate gripe. I can even understand why many rank-and-file GOP voters would throw their hands up and say, “If liberals aren’t going to play by the rules, why should conservatives?”

    But I think this is ultimately the wrong way to think about this. It’s a bit like the bureaucrat or cop who won’t take bribes feeling like he’s a fool since everyone else is on the take. He’s not a fool. If it’s wrong to take bribes, it’s still wrong if “everybody does it.”…If you’ve dedicated your professional or pastoral life to upholding and enforcing public standards of decency, there is no principled argument for giving Trump a pass.

    Goldberg ultimately thinks this attitude is wrong, which is great. But he also thinks it’s “a legitimate gripe.” And that’s what I don’t get. I’m not flummoxed by the notion that lots of conservatives feel aggrieved about this, but I am flummoxed by the notion that it’s legitimate.

    Help me out here. What conservative principles are constantly being used against conservatives? I can think of some. There are the Christians who are caught committing adultery. There are the gay bashers who turn out to be gay. There are the small-government types who suddenly love big government when it’s one of their pet projects on the line.

    Now, it’s true that these particular things don’t much affect liberals. Adultery is sort of yucky, but not always a deal killer. Nobody on the left bashes gays in the first place, and we don’t care if someone is gay. And we aren’t committed to small government, so it’s no big deal when a liberal proposes some kind of big project.

    But of course liberals have their own rules. Right now, in fact, we’re in the middle of a huge backlash against liberals who sexually harass and assault women. This is because liberals think those are bad things. Liberals will also get in trouble for saying something even arguably racist because we think racism is wrong. Dianne Feinstein (and others) get a lot of crap from the left over their support of surveillance laws because liberals like to think they favor privacy rights. None of these things would cause a conservative much trouble.

    I could go on and on, but that would be boring. My point, obviously, is that both sides are vulnerable to attacks for violating their principles. However, this mostly comes from their own side. The other side will guffaw and make snarky jokes on Twitter, but that mostly has little influence over anyone outside their own circle. God knows the 2016 presidential election proved that.

    I assume that the comment section will start out with lots of abuse hurled at Reynolds and Goldberg. That’s fine. Gotta get it out of your system, after all. But I’m also genuinely curious. Precisely which principles is it that are constantly being used against social conservatives? And why do conservatives think this only happens to them? Unflummox me, please.

  • Is Trump’s New National Park Fee Increase Really Outrageous?

    Jesse Lee is unhappy:

    Naturally, I got curious. Is this truly outrageous? I wanted to find out, but it turns out that the history of automobile fees at national parks is surprisingly hard to get a handle on. Every park is different and there are lots of different kinds of fees (single visit, annual, all-park passport, etc.). Eventually I gave up and limited my scope to Yosemite, which acts as sort of a bellwether for park fees (Yosemite and Yellowstone have always had the highest vehicle fees in the national park system). I can’t guarantee that this chart is completely accurate, but I think it’s pretty close:

    Long story short, yes, it’s outrageous. The orginal $5 fee (about $115 adjusted for inflation) was set sort of haphazardly back when cars were a rich man’s toy, but for the past century the vehicle fee at Yosemite has hovered around $30 or so in current dollars. The most recent increase, in 2015, kept vehicle fees right in line with inflation, but the Trump administration’s proposal would more than double that to $70 during peak seasons. About a dozen other parks are also affected, and presumably this would represent an even bigger increase since most of them have historically had lower vehicle fees than Yosemite.

    As I was checking up on this, I skimmed through a monograph on the history of park fees and read several newspaper articles about past fee increases. They are all identical. On one side are folks who want the Park Service to generate more revenue to cover its costs, and on the other side are folks who think that fee increases will put national parks out of reach for anyone who’s not rich. The current debate is precisely the same. The only difference is that this time the proposed increase really would set park fees far higher than they’ve been for nearly a century.

    POSTSCRIPT: The answer to the headline of this post is “Yes.” I did that just to prove that Betteridge’s law of headlines is more like a guideline than an actual law.

  • Lunchtime Photo

    This is a lovely climbing rose on a house in Castlecove. Isn’t it pretty?