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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Water, water everywhere.

Here on the nation’s Gulf Coast, where I live, we’ve got precipitation to spare — severe thunderstorms, overwhelmed sewer systems, and flash floods. It’s hard to remember I’m not living in a land with regularly scheduled monsoons.

Meanwhile, the great state of California is desperately dry as it endures the fourth year of a drought that has already burned through every historical record. It’s been 1,200 years, according to a recent study, since the state has experienced anything like this.

As different as the manifestations are, though, both regions are likely grappling with the effects of climate change. As the Earth warms, droughts will become more frequent and more severe, leading to devastating fires, water shortages and, in some areas, agricultural collapse, according to climate scientists.

At the same time (and this befuddles the layperson), a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, so areas that tend toward rain will have more of it, leading to more floods. There may also be more snowfall in colder climes, so don’t let a blizzard or two fool you.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2014 was the hottest year on record, with continents and oceans warmer than any year since 1880. And despite a bitterly cold winter in the Northeast and Midwest, 2015 is vying to best that. January, February, and March were the warmest on record for the planet, scientists say. Climate change is real.

Jerry Brown, California’s Democratic governor, knows that. He is living through its havoc and trying to meet it squarely. After enacting rigid new regulations about water use weeks ago, he has just issued new rules on carbon emissions — even though his state already had pretty tough requirements. Good for him.

In a speech, Brown said he wants California to stand out as an example for how to deal with global warming. “It’s a real test. Not just for California, not just for America, but for the world. Can we rise above the parochialisms, the ethnocentric perspectives, the immediacy of I-want-I-want-I-need, to a vision, a way of life, that is sustainable?”

President Obama is also doing what he can. He has called for increased fuel efficiency for vehicles; cars and light-duty trucks should be getting the equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon by model year 2025. And, in a more ambitious move, the Environmental Protection Agency has set new rules for power plants, requiring them to limit the amount of carbon dioxide they dump into the atmosphere.

But those commonsense measures have met fierce resistance, not only from industries and the billionaires who own them (think the Koch brothers), but also from their lap dogs in the Republican Party. Several GOP state attorneys general — in apparent collusion with energy companies — have sued the EPA to prevent the regulations from taking effect. “Never before have attorneys general joined on this scale with corporate interests to challenge Washington and file lawsuits in federal court,” according to The New York Times.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), for his part, has urged states to refuse to cooperate in setting targets to limit emissions from power plants. In other words, he has — shades of the Old South — advised them to rebel against federal authority.

(In April, one of his state’s largest newspapers, The Lexington Herald-Leader, printed a powerful editorial rebuking him for that stance. “Mitch McConnell and others who are trying to obstruct climate protections will be regarded one day in the same way we think of 19th-century apologists for human slavery: How could economic interests blind them to the immorality of their position?”)

While the scientific consensus on climate change — that human activity is causing it — grows stronger with each week’s evidence, so does Republican resistance to measures to combat it. Though conservatives once held science in high esteem, they have abandoned it for the siren call of their monied backers.

California’s governor has called this era a “test,” a challenging moment in which we are called to rise above greed, partisanship, and selfish convenience. So far, we’re not doing so well.

Cynthia Tucker won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007. She can be reached at cynthia@cynthiatucker.com.

If Boss Trump is headed for defeat, he's getting his revenge early. His revenge upon his deluded supporters and the people they love, that is. Trump's re-election campaign now consists mainly of what epidemiologists call "super-spreader" events: large-scale rallies of unmasked, non-socially distanced Trumpists yelling in each other's faces while the Big Man emits a non-stop barrage of falsehoods, exaggerations, and barefaced lies.

Let me put it this way: If, say, the Rolling Stones decided to put on free concerts at airports around the country, they'd likely end up being taken into custody and deported as undesirable aliens. Of course, they'd also draw far bigger crowds than Trump, but that's not the point. The point is that Trump's actions are reckless and immoral; the peacetime equivalent of war crimes.

"Covid, covid, covid, covid, covid," he hollers. Trump claims that the United States is "turning the corner" on the pandemic, and that the accursed news media will quit reporting Covid-19 fatalities come November 4. He claims that health officials are motivated by greed because "doctors get more money and hospitals get more money" if they report that the virus was the cause of death.

Surveys have shown that more than a thousand physicians and nurses have died fighting the disease nationwide.

As ever, what he accuses others of doing is an excellent guide to the question: What would Trump do? Answer: he'd steal the silver dollars off a Covid victim's eyes and demand an investigation of Joe Biden

According to the Washington Post, the Trump campaign organization signed an agreement with officials in Duluth, Minnesota to limit attendance at a September 30 fly-in rally, in accordance with public health guidelines. Hours before the event, it became clear that no effort was being made to honor the agreement; some 2500 Trump supporters bunched up without masks on the tarmac, ten times the agreed limit.

Health Department officials' protests were simply ignored. Three days later, Trump himself was taken to Walter Reed Hospital by helicopter. Three weeks after that, the following headline appeared in the Duluth News-Tribune: "St. Louis County sees another record-breaking week of COVID-19 cases."

Any questions?

The Trump Circus subsequently performed in Janesville and Waukesha, Wisconsin in the midst of a record-setting pandemic outbreak there. "It took us 7 and a half months to reach our first 100,000 cases, & only 36 days to reach our second," the Wisconsin Department of Health tweeted. "In just two short months, the 7-day average of new confirmed cases has risen 405%."

But the show must go on. Trump regaled his Janesville audience with a veritable torrent of lies. The New York Times did a thorough fact-check of his October 17 speech. Reporters documented 130 false statements during Trump's 87 minutes onstage. Nearly three-quarters of his factual claims were untrue. The most egregious concerned Covid-19, probably because the disease represents his single greatest failure and most damaging political liability.

Another question: Does Trump count upon his supporters' invincible ignorance or simply share it? I fear it's a little of both. In Janesville, Trump made this absurd claim two minutes into his harangue: "When you look at our numbers compared to what's going on in Europe and other places," he said "we're doing well."

Any regular newspaper reader knows that this is simply nonsense. As the Times reports, "America has more cases and deaths per capita than any major country in Europe but Spain and Belgium. The United States has just 4 percent of the world's population but accounts for almost a quarter of the global deaths from Covid-19."

Germany, to choose the most striking comparison, has suffered only 122 deaths per million of its population, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States has recorded more than five times as many: 686 per million. Neighboring Canada, meanwhile, is at 264 per million. Several Asian countries, have handled the pandemic even better.

It's a matter of capable leadership and public cooperation.

No wonder Trump appears to have succumbed to a case of dictator envy. "COVID, COVID, COVID is being used by [the 'Fake News' media] in total coordination" he tweeted the other day "in order to change our great early election numbers. Should be an election law violation!"

Yeah, well they all report the same World Series scores too. Furthermore, if Trump had good election numbers, he wouldn't whine so much. Has there ever been a bigger crybaby in the White House?

(In related news, Vladimir Putin has issued a mandatory mask mandate after a surge in Russian Covid infections. Go figure.)

Meanwhile, the rallies go on; a bizarre spectacle people treat as if it's normal. Trump has become Covid-19's Typhoid Mary, an Irish cook who unwittingly infected 53 people back in 1906.

But unlike Mary, he should know better. If anybody should be locked up, as his rapt admirers chant, it's the Super-Spreader in Chief.