• Lunchtime Photo

    I asked Marian to curate today’s photo, and to my surprise she picked this one. It is, obviously, a London bus passing Trafalgar Square. That’s Nelson’s column in the background. The bus itself is the #9 that formed our primary link between downtown and our home in Kensington.

    It’s worth saying that if you visit London and haven’t used the buses, you’re missing out. Not only can you see the city, especially from the upper deck, but the right bus can often get you closer to your destination than the tube. If nothing else, get to know two or three of the main bus routes that pass near your hotel or house. Or download an app like CityMapper that will figure out a bus route for you based on where you happen to be. Buses use the same Oyster card you use for the tube.

    Marian was a little bit skeptical at first, but she quickly became a great fan and took the bus everywhere. They’re mostly not very crowded, even at rush hour, and if you can snag the front upper seat, you get a great view.

  • Republicans Control Everything, But Still Can’t Pass a Budget

    Chris Hayes has a question:

    Probably never. But it’s worth pointing out why it’s happening now. It’s because budgets are normally handled via reconciliation, which allows the majority party to pass a budget with only 51 votes. This year, however, Republicans decided to use the 2017 reconciliation bill for repealing Obamacare and the 2018 reconciliation bill for passing their tax bill. So there’s nothing left, and that means they need 60 votes in the Senate.

    This is the only reason they have to negotiate with Democrats in the first place. Their top priorities were taking away health insurance from poor people and giving a big tax cut to corporations and the rich. So now they’re stuck, and they’ve got a president who changes his mind so frequently that nobody can figure out what kind of deal he’d support anyway.

    Lots of people will suffer if the government shuts down because Trump is insisting on a huge increase in the military budget and a wholesale change to immigration laws. But it will mostly be the poor who suffer, and the rich already have their tax cut. So I guess it’s all good.

  • 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.

  • 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.