Friday, August 21, 2015

Trumped Up Weather: The Rain That Mostly Wasn't and the Stormy Political Season to Come

**This entry was posted August 21, 2015.**

Dramatic looking sky behind the Washington Monument as thunderstorms swept around the D.C. area (but basically missed the District itself) earlier this evening, August 20, 2015.

Photo by Jim Havard and reposted from his twitter feed in this CWG entry.

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I've opted to break out this entry as a separate one from the main one that I planned -- pictures of my lunch with my mom and Ray at Thunder Grill at Union Station on Wednesday afternoon.

In this one, I want to talk about the weather, specifically, how the immediate D.C. area got totally screwed out of any rain tonight. This followed a few days of very warm, tropical-like conditions with high humidity and the big, puffy clouds in what certainly felt like a maritime tropical (mT) air mass.

There was much talk of all the rain we would get -- and, briefly, a flash flood watch was actually hoisted by Sterling (LWX). Such watches are often the kiss of weather death in terms of getting heavy rainfall.

A rainbow in the receding storm clouds as seen from Arlington looking east toward Washington, D.C. (that tiny white sliver is the Washington Monument), evening of August 20, 2015.

Picture by Jennifer Pitu Deaver and reposted from her twitter feed in the same CWG entry (see above and directly below).

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To be clear, we came close to getting thunderstorm deluges and there were some dramatic sky cloud scenes that I am reposting from this Capital Weather Gang entry, but in the end, the District and immediate environs mostly missed everything -- so that the useless 0.02" that fell at KDCA actually was representative for once of the immediate area.

Now it is true that another 0.15" fell in the wee hours of the morning, so the Aug. 20th daily total is actually 0.17".

By contrast, the other climate stations had noticeably more for Aug. 20th including 0.41" KIAD (after 0.16" in a t-storm last night); 0.49" at KBWI; and 0.50" at KDMH (Maryland Science Center). The Aug. 20th rainfall at KDCA was the first measurable rainfall there in 10 days, and it's running below normal for the month.

Dramatic, turbulent looking clouds as seen over University Park in the barrio of Langley Park, Md., evening, August 20, 2015. Quill sent me this picture.

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However, we're still well above normal at KDCA for the climatological summer season (since June 1st) and year to date owing to all the rain in June. Just for KDCA, we have the following through August 20th:  month-to-date: 0.75" or -1.20"; summer to day: 17.70" or +8.24"; year-to-date: 32.48" or +7.06".

The building at the corner of 14th and W Streets NW, Washington, D.C., 6:47PM August 20, 2015 under a briefly ominous-looking sky.

I'm sure this lovely new building -- likely a condo -- has a name, but I don't have the wherewithal to look it up now.

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The CWG did its part in repeatedly alerting readers to the threat of heavy rainfall (here, here, and (linked for a third time in this entry) here).

A portion of the NWS high-resolution surface weather map centered on the mid-Atlantic region valid at 0300Z August 21, 2015 (11PM EDT August 20, 2015).

The front is almost through no rain is forecasted for at least the next 7 days at least.

As a result, Fred Hiatt's Washington Consensus will stay safely dry ...

... even as it endlessly shills in an "adult" and "Very Serious Way" for the neoliberal economic "agenda" of Wall Street and the neoconservative warmongering of the military / surveillance Deep State.

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Of course, Benji Wittes is thrilled that the weather won't interfere with any local drone "operations" ...

"YAY! Drones for everybody! Yap! Yap! Yap!"

Of course, Benji is more about military drones launching airstrikes on the rock-strewn wasteland of some -istan country's lawless region.

About those domestic "private" drones, we're at a point where any idiot can own and operate one -- and the FAA really can't do shit about it -- meaning that any old pervert can launch one to look at some woman sunbathing topless in her backyard.

Oh, and don't mess with the drone lest the police arrest you for interfering with, well, something. Not really sure what. Or maybe it's destruction of sacred private property.

Guns and drones. It's the American way.

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And the Palka-cabra creature is just pleased in her She-Dragon way ...

"And you know what, Morris? I now think it's just going to keep getting better and better!"

Here she is when it rains:

ROAR!

Remember: This is the Palka-Cabra's dream ecology:


Why?

Because the She-Dragon is related to those sandworms of Arrakis that encapsulate -- encyst -- all water deep underground.

An adult sandworm -- Geonemotodium arraknis or, better still, Shaihuludata gigantica -- of Arrakis.

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Well, this seems just as good a time as any to segue into a bit of political notes and commentary including on the endlessly fascinating Donald Trump phenomenon. As it has been a while since I posted anything from him, here are re-posted two Paul Krugman blog entries from Aug. 19th that are well worth reading.

Remember that his twice-a-week New York Times op-ed (in the print edition but also available online) comes out on Mondays and Fridays.

August 19, 2015 10:56AM EDT
Pension-cutters and Privatizers, Oh My
Link here.

I wrote Monday about the strange phenomenon of Republicans lining up to propose cuts to Social Security, a deeply unpopular policy that is, however, also a really bad idea. How unpopular? Lee Drutman has the data: only 6 percent of American voters support Social Security cuts, while a majority want it increased. I argued that this apparent act of political self-destructiveness probably reflected an attempt to curry favor with wealthy donors, who are very much at odds with the general public on this issue:

Blog Editor's Note: The link to the full study is here. "SESA" stands for "Survey of Economically Successful Americans". It shows that the overclass Washington Consensus of "entitlement reform" (privatizing / gutting Social Security for Wall Street crooks and block granting Medicare) is highly unpopular with the non-wealthy.

Now we have another example: Marco Rubio has his health care plan and it involves (a) greatly shrinking the tax deductibility of employer health benefits and (b) turning Medicare into a voucher system. Part (a) is favored by many economists, although I would argue wrongly, but would be deeply unpopular; part (b) is really terrible policy -- proposed precisely at the moment when Medicare is showing that it can control costs better than private insurers! -- and also deeply unpopular.

The strategy here, surely, is to propose things that voters would hate if they understood what was on the table, but hope that Fox News plus "views on shape of planet differ" reporting elsewhere will keep them confused, while at the same time pleasing mega-donors. It might even work, especially if Trump can be pushed out of the picture and the Hillary-hatred of reporters overcomes professional scruples. But it's still amazing to watch.

As an aside, I love his phrase "views differ on the shape of planet" to call out the bogus objectivity narrative of the mainstream media. This phrase -- which Prof. Krugman himself coined (in this variation, I believe) -- sums it all up so nicely. We aren't even talking about the conservative entertainment complex of Fox News and rightwing hate radio. That's a whole other topic.

Donald Trump poses with an actual live bald eagle in his office as part of his TIME magazine cover story photo shoot probably earlier this month.

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August 19, 2015 1:48PM EDT
Trump in a Box
Link here.


As pundits are discovering to their horror, there's probably more to the Trump phenomenon than mere celebrity. The fact is that the central planks of modern conservatism -- slashing taxes on the rich and benefits for the public at large -- are deeply unpopular. Republicans have won elections only by wrapping these policies in other stuff; it's about cutting benefits for welfare queens and "strapping young bucks" (that's a Reaganism, in case you're wondering) buying T-bone steaks with food stamps. And this in turn means that there is a sort of empty box in U.S. politics waiting to be filled.


Blog Editor's note: I wish Prof. Krugman had said "Cadillac-driving welfare queens" -- it's so much more IMPACTFUL. Oh, and the above image is an album cover from 1970 -- long predating the early Reagan era association of "welfare queens" and Cadillac cars. I just like the name.

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The matrix here shows the possible positions. A welfare state available to all is the Democratic position, which is pretty much what other Western countries call the social democratic position. The dominant role in the modern GOP is played by a faction that links de facto disdain for Those People with a desire to slash social insurance. Libertarians are, in principle, small-government without the undertones; they are also basically absent from the actually existing electorate.

And then there's the empty box. Once upon a time that box was filled by southern Democrats, who preserved Jim Crow while supporting the New Deal. But they've all moved over to the GOP now, and in the process become anti-social-insurance. But there are plenty of voters who want Social Security and Medicare for people who look like them, but not those other people. And at some level Trump is catering to that unserved population.

Of course, Trumpism is a really bad name for this, partly because the man himself isn't actually coherent, partly because it's still likely that he's a case of hair today, gone tomorrow. And maybe nobody else will make a play for that box. But it's also possible that we’ll see the rise of a movement that needs a better name. Hmm. How about National Social Democracy? Any problems with that?

TIME magazine cover image for the August 31, 2015 edition.

Jonathan Chait has a piece on how Marco Rubio -- who, if he can get it together, probably represents the biggest threat to Hillary -- is offering himself to his billionaire paymasters as the candidate who will use his "I'm from an immigrant working class" background story to confuse voters (with, as PK noted above, the help of Fox News and "objective" reports) and get them to vote for the GOP agenda of feudalism and oligarchy.

OK, Chait doesn't say it that way, but that's the import of it. Here it is (link embedded):


OK, that's all for this entry. I was going to post the Thunder Grill pictures but I think I'll do that after work tomorrow. Oh, and as with other entries, I'll "copyedit" this entry for typos and grammatical issues as I find them.

--Regulus

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