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Culture

Chill Out With Wonkette's Book Club And Le Guin's 'The Left Hand Of Darkness'

It's the 50th anniversary of a science fiction classic.

This weekend, fifty years ago, human beings landed on the Moon and left a plaque saying they'd "come in peace for all mankind." Also this weekend, the eastern United States is experiencing a heat wave of the sort that's likely to become more common in the unfolding climate disaster humanity has brought upon itself. And during the past week, the "president" of the USA explained that some Americans just plain don't belong here, and deserve to be expelled. Seems like as good a time as any to discuss Ursula K. Le Guin's visionary 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness, a story about climate and civilization on an inhospitable planet, gender politics, and for that matter, patriotism and exile.

Plus, the book is set on a planet in the midst of an ice age, so perhaps talking about it will help you stay cool.

For this week's Book Club, we'll be focusing on the first eleven chapters of Left Hand, so as a courtesy to folks who haven't read ahead, please try to avoid spoilers about the second half of the novel, mmkay? You're also more than welcome to join in even if you haven't read the book, or haven't read it recently, because if there's ever been a real-life book club meeting where everyone finished the book, we haven't seen it! And remember, there's still plenty of time to catch up for next week's discussion! You can buy the nifty 50th anniversary edition with a nice kickback to Yr Wonkette, or grab a used or library copy, or even dust off that cool old copy you read decades ago, like this Wonkette reader did:

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lawsplainer

Ninth Circuit Kills Clean Water Act Conviction To Save Clean Water Act

You know those Montana juries, just constantly oppressing septuagenarian veterans for violating environmental laws!

In the final installment of a rather bizarre turn of events, last week the Ninth Circuit vacated the conviction of a Montana man who had destroyed government property and polluted streams and wetlands, in violation of the Clean Water Act. But in doing so, they just might have saved the Clean Water Act for the rest of us.

In 2016, Joseph Robertson was convicted of polluting US waters and destroying government property for building illegal ponds and ditches. He claimed that he built them to help fight fires. Robertson was sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined $130,000.

At first glance, that sounds like a pretty harsh penalty for digging some ditches. But let's look at the details -- and also remember that Robertson was a 77-year old military veteran. Convicted, by a Montana jury, of violating nanny state environmental laws. In Montana.

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Environment

Donald Trump THE GREATEST Environmentalist, Everyone Knows That, Mostly Donald Trump

Somebody in the White House thought this was a good idea.

Some Republican consultants looked at just how abysmally Donald Trump's environmental record is polling with Millennials and suburban women, so the White House hosted a bizarre press availability yesterday in which Trump bragged about what a terrific friend of the environment he is. He was accompanied by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, and by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist, and they all pretended the Emperor had a beautiful new suit of organically grown hemp clothes, we guess.

The New York Times reports the poll-driven exercise in doublethink appears to have been aimed at reassuring a very tiny slice of voters who don't already have their heads all the way up Trump's tailpipe:

While the numbers showed that Mr. Trump was "never going to get" the type of voter who feels passionately about tackling climate change, a senior administration official who reviewed the polling said, there were moderate voters who liked the president's economic policies and "just want to know that he's being responsible" on environmental issues.

And since they're Trump voters, apparently they're also dumb enough that if he says "Message: I Care" about the environment, then they'll smile and believe it. The White House brought in an appreciative audience, at least -- maybe some interns from the Heartland Institute or some other oil-funded think tank?

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State/Local Politics

Oregon Republicans Take Ball, Go Home, Throw Away Ball, Get Wins For Rest Of Season, Demand Payment For Ball They Stole And Games They Didn't Play, And Get It

Gee, hope this doesn't encourage shitty Republican behavior somehow.

Last week, all 11 Republicans in the Oregon state Senate walked out and hid across state lines in an attempt to kill HB 2020, which would put in place a cap and trade system to reduce carbon emissions. (As the bill number might suggest to you keen readers, it had already passed the state House.) Tuesday, the Democratic president of the Senate announced there weren't enough votes to pass HB 2020 anyway, so would Rs please come back and pass other bills, like a budget, before the official end of the session on June 30?

So far, the Republicans don't appear willing to do that either, so we imagine Senate President Peter Courtney will now have to ask pretty please, and maybe promise to give the Republicans a nice apology for having caused them all that trouble. Hell of a way to run a supermajority.

Courtney's announcement, which came without any warning to Senate Democrats, sure had all the characteristics of a sincere, spontaneous hostage statement:

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State/Local Politics

Oregon Cancels 'Making Laws,' Thanks To Militia And AWOL Republicans!

GOP walkout advances to Full Stupid.

All 11 of Oregon's Republican state senators remained AWOL this weekend after fleeing the state last week to block a carbon cap-n-trade bill. When one of the R's threatened to shoot any state police sent to bring legislators back, things got stupid, with militia groups offering to "protect" the Republican senators (and also to collect money from gullible goobers worried about the nascent police state). On Friday, Senate Dems cancelled a planned Saturday session after Oregon State Police warned of a "credible threat" from militia groups.

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Post-Racial America

Mike Pence: The Banality of Evil

It's the Sunday Show Rundown!

After another week of cruelty towards immigrant children and barely sidestepping John Bolton and Mike Pompeo's Iran War erotic dreams, the Trump administration sent out one of its most shameless liars: X-Men villain and current Vice President Michael Richard Pence. (Trump also made a full episode appearance on NBC's "Meet The Press" ably covered by Five Dollar Feminist here.)

Mike Dick Pence practicing for his current treatment of immigrants.Marvel Comics

Pence made dual appearances on CNN's "State of the Union" and CBS's "Face The Nation." While most of the lies were identical, it was Jake Tapper who fact-checked Pence on the spot. Here are some of the highlights.

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Guns

Oregon Republican Knows How To Protect Environment, And That Is ARMED STANDOFF

Stupid, stupid democracy (iTS a REpuBliC!!!)

Republican members of Oregon's state Senate, faced with the likely passage of an intolerable bill that would surely destroy freedom forever, fled the state Thursday to prevent the body from having a quorum necessary to hold a vote. And what was the horrible, liberty-destroying bill they took such extraordinary steps to try and kill? Free abortions for undocumented immigrants who deny Christ while hugging trees? Or perhaps any restriction on guns, ever? Nope: It was a plan to reduce carbon emissions through a cap-and-trade program -- which had already been modified with Republican amendments in the state House.

As allowed by Oregon's constitution, Gov. Kate Brown ordered the state police to compel the wayward legislators to return to the Capitol, but by then, most had already gone to other states, mostly Idaho, although there were rumors some skedaddled to Missoula, Montana, too. We'd ask Yr Editrix to go look for 'em, but she drives a Prius and they'd naturally be wary. And the new solar panels on her roof mean it's unlikely any would drop by for a visit.

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Environment

How We Doin' On That Green Energy Thing? Better Than You Might Expect!

The good news is that it's not all bad news. Also, we need to change things radically is all.

Somewhat encouraging news for the prospects of human survival! Over at Vox, David Roberts offers a brief review of data from the "Renewables Global Status Report," an annual report on the world's use of renewable energy from a great big energy think tank, the "Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century." And the story, as he presents it in 12 graphs, is that we hu-mons are not doomed to Global Warm ourselves to death. What's that, you heard an implied "But..." there? What a very perceptive reader you are!

The really impressive news is that when it comes to generating electricity, renewable energy sources are growing faster than any other:

The shift in the electricity sector has effectively become unstoppable. Globally, more renewable energy capacity has been installed than new fossil fuel and nuclear capacity combined, for four years running. Some 181 GW of new renewables capacity was installed in 2018; it now makes up more than one-third of global installed power capacity. These are mainstream power sources, here to stay.

Also, global adoption of electric vehicles is rapidly growing, especially in China, where lots of city bus fleets are now electric. China is leading the world in green energy generally, which is pretty important since it's also got some of the dirtiest energy to move away from. As China adopts more solar photovoltaic generating capacity, the costs of solar panels is also dropping rapidly, and hooray, solar is also creating the most jobs!

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Environment

Julián Castro: GET THE LEAD OUT!

Eat lead, jerks!

Suddenly, America is swimming in news about lead, that fun neurotoxin that's poisoned our children since the early 20th century, all for the sake of shiny home paints and no-knock gasoline. Prosecutors in Michigan shocked residents of Flint by abruptly dropping all charges against officials whose actions resulted in that city's water crisis; Bloomberg Politics ran a major editorial on the slow-rolling public health crisis; and presidential candidate Julián Castro unveiled a brand-new policy proposal to finally clean up lead nationwide, and to help those victimized by nearly a century of neglect. So let's dive in, no HAZMAT suit necessary. But just to be on the safe side, please refrain from licking your screen, OK?

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2020 presidential election

Liz Warren And Joe Biden's Climate Plans: Maybe We WON'T All Die In A Fire-nado?

Vote smart: It's only life on Earth.

Elizabeth Warren, look what you've done! Suddenly, EVERYBODY is releasing great big policy papers so they can try to keep up with you. Way to go -- now all we need to do is let the cable shows know that there are plenty of ideas to talk about in this election, not just stupid "electability" nonsense. Haha, we are a dreamer like you!

Yesterday, Joe Biden released a great big climate plan, and it is good! And Elizabeth Warren, who's been incorporating climate action across several policy proposals instead of doing one single climate document, released a biggie, a proposal for expanding American industry in green manufacturing, exports, and trade policy. Let's take a look at both of 'em!

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News

LOVE YR WONKET?

Spinal Tap - Gimme Some Money

Some dick is suing your Wonkette! If you are able, will you please send money?

1. Pick "just once" or "monthly."

2. Pick an amount, like say "all of the money."

3. Click "paypal" if you are paypal or "stripe" if you are not paypal.

4. MONEY.

5. Carry on with your day, and with new posts below!

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News

'Elp! 'Elp! Wonkette Being Sued By This 40-Millionaire!

Small favors, at least it's not Peter Thiel.

Your Wonkette, despite many threats from bad and crazy people, has never actually been sued. Until today! According to Don Blankenship's lawyers, we have conspired with Mitch McConnell, Fox Judge Andrew Napolitano, and Don Trump Jr., along with possibly hundreds of other news outlets both progressive and reactionary, to defame and libel and false-light-invasion-of-privacy Mr. Blankenship because one time, by accident, after he lost his race for the Republican West Virginia gubernatorial primary, we mistakenly referred to him as a felon, instead of carefully noting (as we had a dozen times previously) that he was convicted and spent a year in jail for misdemeanor conspiracy leading to the deaths of 29 miners in his employ. I pride myself on carefully weighing Wonkette's terrible words and ensuring (with my 28 years in the news profession oh LORD I am forty-six years old) that everything we assert is both factual and fair. This was my fault as editor, nobody else's, no ifs ands or buts.

If I could, though, I'd blame President Obama, just as Blankenship's lawsuit blames him for those miners' deaths.

So while every month we ask you to keep this mommyblog going, because we are brought to you by YOU, and in fact at the end of every post we ask you to keep this mommyblog going, because we still are brought to you by YOU, today would be a really good day for the 390,000 or so of you monthly readers who don't already donate to Wonkette to throw some money in the kitty, and even, if you are able, to make it a recurring monthly donation!

Mama ain't got 40-millionaire-fightin' money! Mama barely has freelancer money! (Don't worry, we're not a common Trump: Our freelancers always get paid.) What's that? YOU want to send us money? You are good, and we love you.

While we of course believe Mr. Blankenship's lawsuit to be meritless -- even frivolous! -- we still have to reply. And SHIT we have to hire a lawyer to do so. There's no telling what a West Virginia judge and jury might do, and in the face of our first ever lawsuit -- and some online news media that no longer exist, along with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's humble, settled-law notion that it's time to open up the libel laws and abort the greatest constitutional protections afforded to journalists, the First Amendment as recognized under New York Times v. Sullivan -- we are trying not to feel a mite catastrophic.

Today would be a good day to do some yoga breathing. Today would be a bad day to attempt to get off our fattening ass. Hey, maybe you could send us some money?

If worse comes to worst and we lose Wonkette, we will start a new blog and name it something that doesn't confuse people and that we don't have to spell out slowly four times. (No, K-e-TT-e.) We just don't want to lose our house. It's extremely pleasant, near but not on a lake, and we just put in solar. Which has nothing to do with us trying to kill coal: We are America and so is black lung Don Blankenship.

This post will stay up top until I'm sick of looking at it. Scroll down for new news, as if there is ever even news these days, no everything is very boring and sane, all day every day, that is for sure.

Send money?

XOXO,

Wonkette

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Science

Trump Gonna Hide All The Science He Doesn't Like In Folder Marked 'Taxes'

We have always been at war with Eggheadia.

The New York Times reminded us this weekend that Donald Trump's war on reality continues apace, as his administration seeks to subvert climate science once and for all. The latest front in the effort? How about taking away all the bad news from the government's official reports on climate, since they just get everybody down?

The real meat of the reporting gets at two efforts in particular: A move to make sure the next National Climate Assessment is stripped of the worst-case scenarios for what will happen if fossil fuel usage continues at present rates, and a directive from James Reilly, director of the United States Geological Survey, to make sure his office's climate reports make no projections beyond 2040, because all the most extreme results of climate change are expected to come after that. Both are disturbing, but fucking around with the National Climate Assessment is likely to have the greater impact. That interagency report, which is updated every four years or so, is the basis for a lot of environmental law and regulations, so if you can gut it, you can screw with actual policy for years, hooray!

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Nice Time

Roadrunners Are Real, And They're Spectacular!

This Week's 'Nice Things' is for the birbs.

Last week, Yr Dok Zoom talked a little bit about his damn dissertation, which looked at what I call "Wabbit Literacy," the weird thing where we sometimes learn about the world from parodies and jokes long before we ever encounter the original stuff -- like learning about opera from cartoons. More than one person in the comments (which Wonkette does not allow and yet, like life, you find a way) mentioned they were disappointed, as kids, to learn that while roadrunners are real birds, the actual critter looks nothing like this:

Which is not to say that real roadrunners are the least bit disappointing, as animals go, because they're freaking incredible. Yes, even if they don't actually leave lines of flame down the center line of desert highways and go "Meep! Meep!" But they can sprint up to 20 miles per hour, which is faster than you, albeit slower than a real coyote's top speed. Also, yes, real coyotes are among the predators what eat roadrunners, which is why the wily birds adopted the evolutionary strategy of running right through fake tunnels coyotes paint on the sides of mountains.

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Environment

Did You Have 'Let's Not Regulate Mercury' In The 'Clean Coal' Betting Pool? Congrats!

The Environmental ForFucksSake Agency.

Under the Trump administration, the Environmental "Protection" Agency has adopted the vital mission of doing everything it can to prop up the dying coal industry, largely because 1) Coal CEO Robert Murray is among Donald Trump's best billionaire buds and 2) every last trace of Barack Obama's presidency must be eradicated. To that end, the New York Times reports the EPA is now planning to "change how it calculates the health risks of air pollution," to make it easier to reverse Obama's "Clean Power Plan" regulations and replace them with far dirtier air, for coal company fun and profit. It's remarkably similar to another bit of EPA fuckery from December, when the agency decided it was no longer "appropriate and necessary" to regulate mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants, claiming that the costs of regulating the neurotoxin was very very burdensome and wouldn't provide any real savings by comparison. In both cases, fucking around with the math and redefining pollutants as No Big Deal are at the heart of the agency's claims that coal plants can spew more pollution without doing any harm.

Now, before you freak out, we will not be making you do math. Stop whining, you. Rather, we just want to highlight once again how Team Trump changes the definitions of things to give a great big benefit to dirty energy while insisting that it's "protecting" the environment.

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Congress

This House Is GREEEEEN

We got our solar in. So our TV won't go out when the wind doesn't blow!!!!!

We don't know how to tell you this, but it's been kind of a non-suck week here at Wonkette HQ, and our feelings don't know what to do with that. We wrote two posts (now threeeee? someone call a doctor! something ain't right!), which I am pretty sure is illegal. We got new stickers in and they made us happy and also money. (Please buy more.) And thanks to, not kidding, the GOP Tax Cut for Rich Fuckwads, we got a brand shiny spanky did I mention shiny and also spanky solar array! The inspector came out yesterday, said, "SHORE, YUP, turn it on!" and then an hour later it started to rain.

REGARDLESS, depending on where you live (sorry Oklahoma), I think if you're able that you should too.

Did I say thanks to the GOP Tax Cut for Rich Fuckwads? I did. Somewhere on one of the hand-scrawled addenda as Paul Ryan was trying desperately to reduce the deficit lol I am #jokes, they put back in an alternative energy tax credit that had sunsetted in 2016. (And yes, it's the only good thing they did.) That's right: The feds will pay you back 30 percent of what you spend on solar, geothermal, or wind this year (then the credit starts dropping till it's only 10 percent in 2022, so do it now if you can!), even though Trump says windmills cause wind cancer, and his uncle was an MIT, so he knows science pretty terrific.

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