And here I’ve been, waiting for word on Trump’s alleged participation in ‘golden showers’ with Russian prostitutes

Donald Trump

Despite this, Donald Trump, whom authoritarian populists insist is such a great businessman,[1] is going broke again. He is personally responsible for some $421 million in debt, “most of it coming due within four years,” and faces the possibility of having to return a tax refund to the Internal Revenue Service, which could cost him $100 million. The report does not say to whom he owes the former,[2] but some will surely suspect the Russians.[3]

Ah, gee. And here I’ve been, waiting for word on Trump’s alleged participation in “golden showers” with Russian prostitutes.[4] Make of that what you will. I sure as hell don’t know, but I can’t even wrap my head around my own finances.

So I was wondering what the National Review would have to say about the New York Times story on Trump’s taxes. Well, um, it seems they’re all about the “golden showers,” too, or more precisely the “Russian investigation” into Trump, which Republicans insist was unjustified and possibly illegal.[5] Make of that what you will, too.

Brittany Bernstein, “Lindsey Graham Hints There is ‘More Damning’ Information about the Russia Investigation to be Released,” National Review, September 28, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/news/lindsey-graham-hints-there-is-more-damning-information-about-the-russia-investigation-to-be-released/

Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig, and Mike McIntire, “Trump’s Taxes Show Chronic Losses and Years of Income Tax Avoidance,” New York Times, September 27, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/09/27/us/donald-trump-taxes.html


Fire

Napa Valley in California is on fire and the fire spread west through mountainous terrain north of the Valley of the Moon, also wine country, in Sonoma County toward Santa Rosa, where evacuation orders are taking effect (figure 1) in areas that previously burned in 2017 with the Tubbs Fire. I keep saying it: In California, if it hasn’t burned, it will. And is.

Fig. 1. Screenshot taken by author of the Sonoma County Fire Incident Map, September 28, 2020, at 9:44 am EDT (6:44 am PDT).


  1. [1]Bess Levin, “G.O.P. Voters Think Losing $1 Billion Makes Someone (Trump) a Good Businessman,” Vanity Fair, May 15, 2019, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/05/republicans-still-think-trump-was-a-successful-businessman
  2. [2]Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig, and Mike McIntire, “Trump’s Taxes Show Chronic Losses and Years of Income Tax Avoidance,” New York Times, September 27, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/09/27/us/donald-trump-taxes.html
  3. [3]Craig Unger, “Trump’s Russian Laundromat,” New Republic, July 13, 2017, https://newrepublic.com/article/143586/trumps-russian-laundromat-trump-tower-luxury-high-rises-dirty-money-international-crime-syndicate
  4. [4]Jeff Stein, “Trump, Russian Spies and the Infamous ‘Golden Shower Memos,’” Newsweek, January 10, 2017, http://www.newsweek.com/trump-russian-spies-infamous-golden-shower-memos-541315
  5. [5]Brittany Bernstein, “Lindsey Graham Hints There is ‘More Damning’ Information about the Russia Investigation to be Released,” National Review, September 28, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/news/lindsey-graham-hints-there-is-more-damning-information-about-the-russia-investigation-to-be-released/

Louis DeJoy accused of ‘voter suppression’

Updates

  1. Originally published, September 13, 2020, at 9:52 am.
  2. September 13, 10:49 am:
    • There have been tens of thousands of COVID-19 cases and hundreds of deaths at animal flesh packing plants. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined merely two companies a mere $29,000, apparently under influence from the Trump administration. Labor representatives worry the paltry fines will function as a disincentive to safety.[1]
  3. September 13, 9:23 pm:
  4. September 14, 2:46 am:
    • I’m not sure that the horse isn’t already out of the barn, but confirming the last update (September 13, 9:23 pm), it appears the judge did indeed grant a temporary restraining order against the Postal Service.[2]
  5. September 14, 3:06 am:
    • I guess this is Sally (figure 2) in the Gulf of Mexico.

Conservatism

There is a new blog post entitled, “On ‘freedom.’


Postal Service

“In Colorado, every registered voter is sent a ballot without having to make a request and voters are urged to return ballots by mail sooner than seven days before the election. My office asked USPS officials to delay or not send the mailer in Colorado, but they refused to commit to that,” said [Colorado Secretary of State Jena] Griswold. Voters in states with similar vote-by-mail, such as California and Washington, could also be misled by the postcard’s recommendations.[3]

I had thought the card was pretty germaine, but given its obvious significance in this election, took the precaution of scanning it in (figure 1) before, as I do with nearly everything, shredding it:[4]

Fig. 1. Scan of card received by author on September 11, 2020, from the U.S. Postal Service.

Sure enough, there is specific advice there that could conflict with some states’ rules. And it really wouldn’t have taken a lot of rephrasing to mollify Jena Griswold and her colleagues from, she says, at least five other states.[5]

Jake Johnson, “Condemning ‘Attempt at Voter Suppression,’ Colorado Sues DeJoy Over Misleading Postal Service Mailers,” Common Dreams, September 12, 2020, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/09/12/condemning-attempt-voter-suppression-colorado-sues-dejoy-over-misleading-postal

Colleen Flynn and Evan Kruegel, “TRO against USPS granted in lawsuit filed by Colo. Sec. of State Jena Griswold,” KDVR, September 12, 2020, https://kdvr.com/news/tro-against-usps-granted-in-lawsuit-filed-by-colo-sec-of-state-jena-griswold/


Animal flesh

Kimberly Kindy, “More than 200 meat plant workers in the U.S. have died of covid-19. Federal regulators just issued two modest fines,” Washington Post, September 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/osha-covid-meat-plant-fines/2020/09/13/1dca3e14-f395-11ea-bc45-e5d48ab44b9f_story.html


Sally


Fig. 2. 72-hour gif of satellite imagery for Eastern U.S. and the Gulf of Mexico, as of September 14, 2020, at 2:02 am.


  1. [1]Kimberly Kindy, “More than 200 meat plant workers in the U.S. have died of covid-19. Federal regulators just issued two modest fines,” Washington Post, September 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/osha-covid-meat-plant-fines/2020/09/13/1dca3e14-f395-11ea-bc45-e5d48ab44b9f_story.html
  2. [2]Colleen Flynn and Evan Kruegel, “TRO against USPS granted in lawsuit filed by Colo. Sec. of State Jena Griswold,” KDVR, September 12, 2020, https://kdvr.com/news/tro-against-usps-granted-in-lawsuit-filed-by-colo-sec-of-state-jena-griswold/
  3. [3]Jake Johnson, “Condemning ‘Attempt at Voter Suppression,’ Colorado Sues DeJoy Over Misleading Postal Service Mailers,” Common Dreams, September 12, 2020, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/09/12/condemning-attempt-voter-suppression-colorado-sues-dejoy-over-misleading-postal
  4. [4]The idea is that should I dispose of anything that might be used against me in this way, the motherfuckers will have to piece together a lot of junk before they find it.
  5. [5]Jake Johnson, “Condemning ‘Attempt at Voter Suppression,’ Colorado Sues DeJoy Over Misleading Postal Service Mailers,” Common Dreams, September 12, 2020, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/09/12/condemning-attempt-voter-suppression-colorado-sues-dejoy-over-misleading-postal

The west on fire

Fires

So here I was, stopped somewhere for lunch, checking my email. I got to a Washington Post newsletter and found this (figure 1):

Fig. 1. Map of fires out west since August, from the Washington Post, September 10, 2020.

I hadn’t realized just how much territory had burned. I’ve been focused on the Walbridge Fire, for which I received notifications the other day that the last evacuation warning zones had been cleared, because it’s closest to my mother’s house. As terrible as that fire was, others have covered much more territory. There are active major fires burning in California, Oregon, and Washington.


Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts:’ armed right-wing militia groups

Laura

So you see the not terribly well organized remnants of Laura approaching Pittsburgh from the southwest? It turns out they got swooped up by a low pressure area to the north, blew through Pittsburgh so rapidly as to be imperceptible (figure 1), and the result was a lovely day.
ecan.gif
Fig. 1. 72-hour gif of satellite imagery for eastern Canada, as of August 29, 2020, at 8:01 pm.

Once upon a time, weather forecasting was a hobby I took very seriously, but there’s a reason I stopped calling myself a forecaster a decade or three back. I promise you, I sure didn’t see this coming.


Militia

I would only be going a little beyond an Intercept article in suggesting that armed right-wing militia functionally serve as Donald Trump’s “brown shirts” in a de facto alliance with police. They take their orders as he identifies groups, like Black Lives Matter and (the usually unorganized) Antifa, that allegedly pose a threat to Amerikkka.[1] Hence Kyle Rittenhouse’s shooting of three protesters, killing two, in Kenosha.[2] Some will surely say the arrangement permits Trump plausible deniability.

Ryan Devereaux, “The Thin Blue Line Between Violent, Pro-Trump Militias and Police,” Intercept, August 28, 2020, https://theintercept.com/2020/08/28/kyle-rittenhouse-violent-pro-trump-militias-police/


Horse race


  1. [1]Ryan Devereaux, “The Thin Blue Line Between Violent, Pro-Trump Militias and Police,” Intercept, August 28, 2020, https://theintercept.com/2020/08/28/kyle-rittenhouse-violent-pro-trump-militias-police/
  2. [2]Jeremy Stahl, “Kenosha Police Chief Blames Protesters for Their Own Deaths, Defends Vigilante Groups,” Slate, August 26, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/08/kenosha-police-chief-daniel-miskinis-blames-protesters-for-own-deaths.html; Ryan Devereaux, “The Thin Blue Line Between Violent, Pro-Trump Militias and Police,” Intercept, August 28, 2020, https://theintercept.com/2020/08/28/kyle-rittenhouse-violent-pro-trump-militias-police/

It’s too wet! It’s too dry! I might never see a proper Fall the way this is going.

Pennsylvania

So it’s been a really dry summer and that might diminish the Fall colors[1] yet again. This after the torrential storms of last year diminished those colors.[2] Now, we’re getting torrential rainfall (figure 1), in part due to Laura, but coming from California, I’m all too well aware that a sudden torrent is no substitute for a steadier pace of lighter rain.ecan.gif

Fig. 1. 72-hour gif of satellite imagery for eastern Canada, as of August 29, 2020, at 4:01 am.

I’m expecting the remnants of the central part of Laura to pass over Pittsburgh today, but there’s been a flow across the northern tier of states that’s also been affecting us—this is probably not quite done yet.


Pandemic

I keep hearing how children can’t transmit the novel coronavirus,[3] mainly from folks with some form of interest in getting them back in school, even as schools themselves have been cautious.[4] It’s pretty clear kids can carry the virus.[5] And older kids might transmit it as much as adults do.[6] But I’m starting to suspect that proper science is not being done here while self-interested folks spin what evidence there is to support their own hopes. Because for all the hue and cry, this should be a lot more clear cut.

What I keep hearing from parents is that kids are notorious “germ factories,” spreading disease to entire families, and no one seems to offer an adequate answer for why it should be any different with the coronavirus.

Jacqueline Howard and Sandee LaMotte, “Kids can carry coronavirus in respiratory tract for weeks, study suggests,” CNN, August 28, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/28/health/kids-covid-19-nose-throat-wellness/index.html


  1. [1]Marcus Schneck, “Fall foliage expert offers bleak outlook for some of Pennsylvania this fall,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, August 28, 2020, https://www.pennlive.com/life/2020/08/fall-foliage-expert-offers-bleak-outlook-for-some-of-pennsylvania-this-fall.html
  2. [2]Mary Ann Thomas, “Leaf peeper season in full swing in the Laurel Highlands; Pittsburgh, Alle-Kiski Valley must wait,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 20, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/valley-news-dispatch/leaf-peeper-season-in-full-swing-in-the-laurel-highlands-pittsburgh-alle-kiski-valley-must-wait/
  3. [3]Benjamin Lee and William V. Raszka, “COVID-19 Transmission and Children: The Child Is Not to Blame,” Pediatrics 146, no. 1 (2020), doi: 10.1542/peds.2020-004879
  4. [4]Justin Lahart, “Kids at Home Could Put the Economy in Detention,” Wall Street Journal, July 24, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/kids-at-home-could-put-the-economy-in-detention-11595583001; Laura Meckler, “With pressure and threats, Trump pushes to fully reopen schools. Schools say: Not so fast,” Washington Post, July 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/trump-schools-cdc-pence/2020/07/08/8a52d400-c14b-11ea-b4f6-cb39cd8940fb_story.html
  5. [5]Jacqueline Howard and Sandee LaMotte, “Kids can carry coronavirus in respiratory tract for weeks, study suggests,” CNN, August 28, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/28/health/kids-covid-19-nose-throat-wellness/index.html; Apoorva Mandavilli, “Children May Carry Coronavirus at High Levels, Study Finds,” New York Times, July 30, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/30/health/coronavirus-children.html
  6. [6]Peter Dockrill, “Older Kids May Transmit COVID-19 as Much as Adults Do, New Evidence Shows,” Science Alert, July 20, 2020, https://www.sciencealert.com/older-children-transmit-covid-19-as-much-as-adults-do-new-evidence-suggests

Laura reaches Pittsburgh

Updates

  1. Originally published, August 27, 2020, at 9:59 pm.
  2. August 28, 2020, 12:57 pm:
    • It turns out the renewal treatment does not require the same layover period that the initial rust-proofing treatment did. I am down for the rest of the day, however, because the carpets are wet: It turns out the place does interior detailing, which my car badly, badly, badly needed doing.
    • It is just as well that the layover was not required. As I approached the Best Buy to pick up a replacement USB-C to USB-C cable for the car charger I have for my Pixelbook (which turns out not to be the problem), the skies opened up with another horrendous downpour, thunder and lightning (figure 2).
    • As I was driving to the Best Buy, I saw something I couldn’t quite believe. Here it is thundering and lightning all around, on top of the hill at Old Lebanon Church Road, Old Clairton Road, and Clairton Boulevard, and some schmuck is up in a cherry picker taking down a traffic signal. And there was a cop with his lights flashing, blocking the lane so he could work. I guess it occurred to neither of them that this was work best deferred even if only until the storm relented.

Laura

So I was thinking it was a bit early for Laura’s remnants to start affecting Pittsburgh weather. I was thinking that was more likely tomorrow.

It looks like I was wrong (figure 1). My last ride tonight was through a downpour the likes of which I haven’t seen in quite some time. I was glad I’d spent the extra nickel on really, really good tires.
eusgm.gif
Fig. 1. 72-hour gif of satellite imagery for the eastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico, as of August 27, 2020, at 8:01 pm.

To be sure, there was other weather hitting the region about the same time. But that explosive downpour, with some of the most dramatic lightning I can remember, was also a bit of Laura.

This actually might be a problem tomorrow. I have rustproofing and body coating renewals scheduled for my car. As I recall, I’ll need to keep the car dry the rest of the day. I have a garage, so once I get it there, it’ll be fine. But what will I do if it starts raining on the way home?

Update:
ecan.gif
Fig. 2. 72-hour gif of satellite imagery for Eastern Canada, as of August 28, 2020, at 12:01 pm.


Laura comes ashore


Laura

eusgm.gif
Fig. 1. 72-hour gif of satellite imagery for the eastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico, as of August 27, 2020, at 6:01 am.

Gerald Herbert, Melinda Deslatte, and Stacey Plaisance, “Laura slams Louisiana coast with fierce wind, surging sea,” Associated Press, August 27, 2020, article in possession of author


A polarized Pennsylvania bummer

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf repeated his earlier call for legalization of recreational marijuana,[1] this time framing it as part of the state’s economic recovery from the pandemic.[2] At last report, a bill intended to do just that[3] was still bottled up in a hostile committee, even as the lieutenant governor echoed the governor’s call:[4]

State Sen. [Patrick] Stefano said his committee is doing research and looking into new studies. He tells KDKA’s Meghan Schiller the biggest hold up right now is that there’s no way to measure THC in a person’s body. He said until there’s a tool to measure intoxication, he’s hesitant to move forward.[5]

Wolf alluded to the state legislature’s failed attempts to curtail his efforts to manage the pandemic[6] and proposed that some revenue go to help small businesses:[7]

“House and Senate Democrats have been fighting for progress to protect families and businesses in these spaces since the beginning of the pandemic, but they have been stopped at every turn by the Republican majority focused on ignoring the public health crisis,” [Tom] Wolf said.

“That must stop now. The legislature must come back and take immediate steps to provide funding to frontline workers and businesses, put in place protections for families and our workforce, and make these commonsense reforms that can provide confidence in our government. Pennsylvanians need relief, they need reform, and they need it now.”[8]

I trust he isn’t holding his breath.

Sonia Moghe and Taylor Romine, “Pennsylvania governor calls for legalizing marijuana as part of Covid-19 economic recovery plan,” CNN, August 26, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/26/us/pennsylvania-legalize-recreational-marijuana-trnd/index.html


Laura

eusgm.gif
Fig. 1. 72-hour of satellite imagery for the eastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico, as of August 26, 2020, 10:01 pm.

It looks to me like landfall will occur in extreme southwestern Louisiana, just across the border from Texas.


  1. [1]Kara Seymour, “PA Governor Calls For Legalizing Recreational Marijuana,” Patch, September 25, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gutg4/pa-governor-calls-for-legalizing-recreational-marijuana
  2. [2]Sonia Moghe and Taylor Romine, “Pennsylvania governor calls for legalizing marijuana as part of Covid-19 economic recovery plan,” CNN, August 26, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/26/us/pennsylvania-legalize-recreational-marijuana-trnd/index.html
  3. [3]WTAE, “New bill to legalize recreational marijuana unveiled by state lawmaker from Pittsburgh,” February 20, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/recreational-marijuana-bill-pittsburgh-state-rep-jake-wheatley/31025380
  4. [4]Meghan Schiller, “Can Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Lessen The Blow Of Pa.’s $3.2B Deficit? Lt. Gov. John Fetterman Says ‘The Time Is Now,’” KDKA, July 7, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/07/john-fetterman-legalizing-recreational-marijuana/
  5. [5]Meghan Schiller, “Can Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Lessen The Blow Of Pa.’s $3.2B Deficit? Lt. Gov. John Fetterman Says ‘The Time Is Now,’” KDKA, July 7, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/07/john-fetterman-legalizing-recreational-marijuana/
  6. [6]Associated Press, “Pennsylvania GOP seeks to dismantle Wolf’s shutdown,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 9, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/pennsylvania-gop-seeks-to-dismantle-wolfs-shutdown/; Associated Press, “Pennsylvania Republicans Mount New Challenge To Gov. Tom Wolf’s Pandemic Power,” KDKA, July 14, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/07/14/republicans-mount-new-challenge-to-governors-pandemic-power/; Stephen Caruso, “Pa. Lawmaker: It’s not government’s responsibility to ‘try to keep us safe,’” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, August 12, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/covid-19/pa-lawmaker-its-not-governments-responsibility-to-try-to-keep-us-safe/; Megan Guza, “Gov. Wolf, GOP critic spar over social media post parroting health secretary’s LGBQT comments,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 30, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/gov-wolf-gop-critic-spar-over-social-media-post-parroting-health-secretarys-lgbqt-comments/; Elizabeth Hardison and Stephen Caruso, “Pa. Supreme Court throws out GOP challenge to Wolf’s COVID-19 emergency order,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, July 1, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/covid-19/pa-supreme-court-throws-out-gop-challenge-to-wolfs-covid-19-emergency-order/; Nick Matoney, “‘We can’t do this for another 90 days’: Pa. General Assembly votes to end COVID-19 emergency declaration,” WTAE, June 10, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/we-cant-do-this-for-another-90-days-pa-general-assembly-votes-to-end-covid-19-emergency-declaration/32821325; John L. Micek, “W. Pa. Rep. Metcalfe files impeachment articles to ‘remove dictator Wolf’ over pandemic response,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, June 16, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/blog/w-pa-rep-metcalfe-files-impeachment-articles-to-remove-dictator-wolf-over-pandemic-response/
  7. [7]Sonia Moghe and Taylor Romine, “Pennsylvania governor calls for legalizing marijuana as part of Covid-19 economic recovery plan,” CNN, August 26, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/26/us/pennsylvania-legalize-recreational-marijuana-trnd/index.html
  8. [8]Sonia Moghe and Taylor Romine, “Pennsylvania governor calls for legalizing marijuana as part of Covid-19 economic recovery plan,” CNN, August 26, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/26/us/pennsylvania-legalize-recreational-marijuana-trnd/index.html