Thursday, May 03, 2018

‘Madam Secretary:’ Climate Change Is ‘Existential Threat of Our Time’

Climate change has not been a new topic for CBS’s Madam Secretary, but it has provided some unintentionally hilarious results.

The latest take sadly is not as amusing as it buries natural gas in the State Department’s crusade to save the planet from the “existential threat” of global warming.

The April 29 episode “Thin Ice” revolves around a potential international disagreement over territory in the Arctic.

In the meantime, however, the department must also prepare for an upcoming World Expo where they plan to promote American ideas for renewable energy.

Unfortunately for the staff, Congress has cut their budget so their funding for the expo is being provided by “Big Oil and Gas,” represented by the quintessential greedy and ignorant oil tycoon (is there any other kind?) Chip Harding (Kevin O’Rourke.)

He is, of course, pushing for natural gas and wants to get a piece of the action in the Arctic.

Harding: But your pitch has a fundamental problem.

Kat: The nuclear power section?

Harding: It’s taking up a lot of real estate here, and you’ve neglected good old natural gas.

Blake: Well, nuclear power produces carbon-free electricity, while natural gas does not.

Kat: And most climate scientists see nuclear as the key transition technology until renewables become more efficient.

Harding: The bridge to renewables is not nuclear, my dear. It’s gas. It’s cheap, has half the emissions of coal, and most importantly, it won’t melt down and make the neighborhood children glow in the dark.

Blake: Uh, due respect, Mr. Harding, no child or anyone has ever glowed in the dark from any…

Harding: Ma’am.

Elizabeth: Mr. Harding. So good to see you again. I’m on my way to Montreal, but I couldn’t leave without stopping in to say hi.

Harding: I’m happy to hear that the Arctic is a top priority of the Dalton administration. It’s a brave new world. Everybody wants a piece, myself included.

Elizabeth: Well, I am eager to negotiate a contract that will be fair to all of us. And I wanted to thank you again for your generous pledge to our World Expo pavilion. Wow. Yeah.

Harding: It is being held in my home state of Texas.

Elizabeth: Wouldn’t want to fumble the ball on the home field, right?

Harding: Not at all, which is why I’m so concerned there’s no section on natural gas. If we’re talking future energy, we need to tell folks that gas is cheap, has half the emissions of coal, and most importantly, folks won’t glow in the dark.

To the show’s credit, they acknowledge that alternative energy sources are not quite up to standards as Elizabeth’s assistant Blake (Erich Bergen) remarks, “You need, like 12 billion solar roofs just to match the projected growth in energy consumption by 2050.”

Still, the show relies on the usual talking points such as “16 of the 17 of the hottest years on record have occurred since 2000,” despite actual evidence being recorded only since 1880 and clear cherry-picking.

And they refuse to consider natural gas, despite the things Harding says being true even to hardcore climate change alarmists.

After the State Department helps an environmentalist group get out of jail and the leader publicly denounces companies that “suppress the truth” about global warming and wish to “poison the planet,” Harding calls up Madam Secretary Elizabeth (Téa Leoni) and demands the administration publicly support drilling in the Arctic Circle, threatening to pull back his funding.


Has The Lawyer Behind Boulder Climate Lawsuit Misled The Public?

A shifty character

Last month, three Colorado municipalities – the City and County of Boulder and the County of San Miguel – filed a lawsuit against ExxonMobil and Suncor, blaming them for the impacts of climate change.

David Bookbinder, chief counsel for the Niskanen Center, a Washington D.C.-based libertarian think-tank, is representing the plaintiffs.

But an investigation by Energy In Depth suggests Bookbinder may have misled the public on the nature of his involvement.

When Did Bookbinder Join?

While Boulder is the first lawsuit Bookbinder is transparently involved in, he has been an active voice on the climate litigation issue ever since the first cases were filed in three California municipalities last July, publishing blog posts and appearing in articles on the cases with some frequency.

What is curious, however, is that in an interview with Denver-based Western Wire last month, he spoke as though he had no affiliation with, nor significant knowledge of, any of the other climate lawsuits.

A quick Google search reveals that Bookbinder has been a consultant to the climate lawsuits for some time.

In an article published by Western Wire earlier this month, Bookbinder is quoted as saying he couldn’t recall exactly when the Niskanen Center got involved with the Boulder lawsuit and that he didn’t “really know much more about the other cases.”

But he had written a detailed blog for the Niskanen Center after San Francisco and Oakland filed their own lawsuits against fossil-fuel producers back in September 2017.

In that blog, he thoroughly discussed not only those two lawsuits but also the other three that were filed by San Mateo and Marin Counties and the city of Imperial Beach back in July 2017.

Indeed, his familiarity with the other cases is likely why he was asked to join the lawsuits.

Even more puzzling, though, is an op-ed Bookbinder published on last December in which he discloses he has “been consulting with lawyers working on the nuisance cases,” which he identifies elsewhere in the piece as the lawsuits filed by the California municipalities.

It is hard to believe Sher Edling or Hagens Berman – the two law firms representing the municipalities in the other cases – would employ a consultant who doesn’t “really know much more about” their cases.

But wait, there’s more.

Bookbinder was also spotted at the March 21 “climate tutorial” hearing in the San Francisco and Oakland cases. His presence was confirmed by the Keeling Curve Prize, which tweeted that their “advisory council member David Bookbinder was in the courtroom” for the hearing.

Presumably, his clients were hoping that he might know a little more about the “other cases” after he flew across the country to spend five hours in a courtroom.

Beyond misrepresenting the timing and degree of his involvement in the climate litigation, Bookbinder also misled Western Wire about the nature of his involvement. He told the outlet that the Boulder lawsuit is an issue of property rights and “not climate work.”

But the website set up by the Colorado municipalities makes no mention of property rights (the page is titled “climate lawsuit” and the URL includes the word “climate” three times).

The FAQ document provided by the municipalities never once mentions “property rights” and the only mention of “property rights” in the press release is in a quote provided by Bookbinder, while “climate” is mentioned 26 times. Weird!

Nevertheless, Bookbinder and the Niskanen Center have repeatedly emphasized that the climate lawsuit is actually about property rights.

This begs the question of why the municipalities and EarthRights International would bring him in as outside counsel, considering his legal expertise is largely in climate policy.

For example, Bookbinder earned a name for himself as the Sierra Club’s Chief Climate Counsel. In fact, Bookbinder is one of the only people in the country to have ever held the title of “Chief Climate Counsel” for any organization.

He also taught courses on “Environmental Litigation” and “Environmental Law and Science” at multiple institutions. Further, his bio for the Niskanen Center is chock-full of climate-related experience but makes no mention of his work on property rights.

Even the blog he wrote that labels the Boulder suit as a property rights issue is housed under the “Climate & Energy Policy” section of Niskanen’s website.

To Bookbinder’s credit, he didn’t always focus exclusively on environmental issues.

Before joining the Sierra Club, he was an attorney for Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison where he worked on “securities, mergers and acquisitions, product liability, white-collar criminal, intellectual property and other matters,” but property rights issues do not appear to have been a major part of his portfolio.

Niskanen’s Anti-Oil and Gas Funding

There is also evidence to suggest that Bookbinder and the Niskanen Center have been misleading when it comes to who is funding their involvement in the Boulder lawsuit.

Bookbinder disclosed that he was serving as co-counsel in the Boulder lawsuit at a panel discussion on the California climate lawsuits at the American Enterprise Institute on the day the Boulder lawsuit was announced.

While he said he was working for the plaintiffs pro-bono, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which has admitted to funding efforts to investigate and bring charges against the oil and gas industry, had very recently given a $200,000 grant to the Niskanen Center in February 2018 “for its climate program.”

Similarly, the center also received three grants from the anti-fossil fuel Hewlett Foundation in 2017 totaling $750,000, $300,000 of which was earmarked in a November 7, 2017 grant for Niskanen’s “climate policy and litigation program.”

Yet, when Western Wire asked Bookbinder about this funding, he responded, “that’s not for this… there may be litigation attached to climate work but we don’t think of [the Boulder case] as climate litigation.”

That’s an odd stance to take because the first claim in the Boulder lawsuit states that the “Defendants’ actions have altered the climate in Colorado.”

“Screw with the Fossil Fuel Companies”

Bookbinder’s op-ed, referenced above, opens with a sub-headline that reads: “The worst way to do policy is through the courts.”

But as noted before, Bookbinder later admits that he’s already consulting on efforts to enact policy in “the worst way.”

He concludes his op-ed with this thought: “…with the government unwilling to deal with climate issues, lots of clever lawyers are busy thinking up new and exciting ways to screw with the fossil fuel companies.” (emphasis added)

That’s what these lawsuits are really about. The purpose of these climate liability lawsuits is not, as the plaintiffs claim, to mitigate the costs of climate change and make fossil fuel companies pay “their share.”

Their purpose is to “bring down the fossil fuel companies,” according to one climate activist. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says his climate lawsuit is designed to “help bring the death knell to this industry.”

And now David Bookbinder, a co-counsel to the Boulder suit, has made clear that the lawsuits are a fun new way “to screw with the fossil fuel companies.”

Bookbinder’s comments flew under the radar at the time, but some folks active in the climate policy discussion seem to have taken notice.

In addition to working for the Niskanen Center, Bookbinder also served as a senior policy advisor at the prestigious Climate Leadership Council (CLC), an international policy organization that brings together corporations, thought leaders, and environmentalists to promote a carbon tax and dividends plan as the most effective solution to combat climate change.

The group’s proposal, which has attracted the support of everyone from Michael Bloomberg and the Nature Conservancy to James Baker and George Shultz, two former secretaries of state under Republican presidents, was seen as one of the best options for controlling greenhouse gas emissions on a national level.

But a key provision in the CLC’s plan protected companies “from lawsuits over their contribution to climate change.”

That could explain why Bookbinder was removed from the CLC’s website shortly after announcing his role as co-counsel in the lawsuit.

A cached version of the organization’s website shows him as having been publicly affiliated with the group as recently as April 4, 2018 – just two weeks before the Colorado municipalities’ lawsuit was filed.

There has been no official announcement on Bookbinder’s departure, but the timing is suspicious.


David Bookbinder’s history with climate litigation stretches back at least 15 years.

In 2003, during Bookbinder’s time as Chief Climate Counsel, the Sierra Club backed ten states that brought a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for Bush administration’s decision that it does not have the authority to regulate emissions of the greenhouse gasses that cause climate change (Massachusetts v. EPA).

Commenting on the suit, Bookbinder said, “If the United States is ever going to regulate greenhouse gases, it will start with a victory in this lawsuit.”

It would seem that Bookbinder has tried to have it both ways on climate litigation for years. He has called it the “worst way to do policy” and in the same article admitted to consulting on climate lawsuits.

He has endorsed and possibly co-written a carbon tax plan that would protect companies from climate lawsuits and then joined a set of climate lawsuits roughly a year later, though he has insisted his involvement is limited to a focus on property rights.

Only one thing can be said for sure – David Bookbinder has some explaining to do.


Is climate alarmist consensus about to shatter?

Is this the Beginning of the End – or at least the End of the Beginning?

E. Calvin Beisner

On November 10, 1942, after British and Commonwealth forces defeated the Germans and Italians at the Second Battle of El Alamein, Winston Churchill told the British Parliament, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

In The Hinge of Fate, volume 3 of his marvelous 6-volume history of World War II, he reflected, “It may almost be said, ‘Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat’.”

The publication of Nicholas Lewis and Judith Curry’s newest paper in The Journal of Climate reminds me of that. The two authors for years have focused much of their work on figuring out how much warming should come from adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. In this paper they conclude that it’s at least 30% and probably 50% less than climate alarmists have claimed for the last forty years.

In fact, there are reasons to think the alarmists’ error is even greater than 50 percent. And if that is true, then all the reasons for drastic policies to cut carbon dioxide emissions – by replacing coal, oil and natural gas with wind and solar as dominant energy sources – simply disappear. Here’s another important point.

For the last 15 years or more, at least until a year or two ago, it would have been inconceivable that The Journal of Climate would publish their article. That this staunch defender of climate alarmist “consensus science” does so now could mean the alarmist dam has cracked, the water’s pouring through, and the crack will spread until the whole dam collapses.

Is this the beginning of the end of climate alarmists’ hold on climate science and policy, or the end of the beginning? Is it the Second Battle of El Alamein, or is it D-Day? I don’t know, but it is certainly significant. It may well be that henceforth the voices of reason and moderation will never suffer a defeat.

Shattered Consensus: The True State of Global Warming was edited 13 years ago by climatologist Patrick J. Michaels, then Research Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia and the State Climatologist of Virginia; now Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies at the Cato Institute. Its title was at best premature.

The greatly exaggerated “consensus” – that unchecked human emissions of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse” gases would cause potentially catastrophic global warming – wasn’t shattered then, and it hasn’t shattered since then. At least, that’s the case if the word “shattered” means what happens when you drop a piece of fine crystal on a granite counter top: instantaneous disintegration into tiny shards.

However, although premature and perhaps a bit hyperbolic, the title might have been prophetic.

From 1979 (when the National Academy of Sciences published “Carbon Dioxide and Climate: A Scientific Assessment”) until 2013 (when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its “5th Assessment Report” or AR5), “establishment” climate-change scientists claimed that – if the concentration of carbon dioxide (or its equivalent in other “greenhouse” gases) doubled – global average surface temperature would rise by 1.5–4.5 degrees C, with a “best estimate” of about 3 degrees. (That’s 2.7–8.1 degrees F, with a “best” of 5.4 degrees F.)

But late in the first decade of this century, spurred partly by the atmosphere’s failure to warm as rapidly as the “consensus” predicted, various studies began challenging that conclusion, saying “equilibrium climate sensitivity” (ECS) was lower than claimed. As the Cornwall Alliance reported four years ago:

“The IPCC estimates climate sensitivity at 1.5˚C to 4.5˚C, but that estimate is based on computer climate models that failed to predict the absence of warming since 1995 and predicted, on average, four times as much warming as actually occurred from 1979 to the present. It is therefore not credible. Newer, observationally based estimates have ranges like 0.3˚C to 1.0˚C (NIPCC 2013a, p. 7) or 1.25˚C to 3.0˚C – with a best estimate of 1.75˚C (Lewis and Crok 2013, p. 9). Further, “No empirical evidence exists to support the assertion that a planetary warming of 2°C would be net ecologically or economically damaging” (NIPCC 2013a, p. 10).” [Abbreviated references are identified here.]

However, most of the lower estimates of equilibrium climate sensitivity were published in places that are not controlled by “consensus” scientists and thus were written off or ignored.

Now, though, a journal dead center in the “consensus” – the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate – has accepted a new paper, “The impact of recent forcing and ocean heat uptake data on estimates of climate sensitivity,” by Nicholas Lewis and Judith Curry. It concludes that ECS is very likely just 50–70% as high as the “consensus” range. (Lewis is an independent climate science researcher in the UK. Curry was Professor and Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology and now is President of the Climate Forecast Applications Network.)

Here’s how Lewis and Curry summarize their findings in their abstract, with the takeaways emphasized:

“Energy budget estimates of equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) and transient climate response (TCR) [increase in global average surface temperature at time of doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration, i.e., 70 years assuming 1% per annum increase in concentration] are derived based on the best estimates and uncertainty ranges for forcing provided in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Scientific Report (AR5).

“Recent revisions to greenhouse gas forcing and post-1990 ozone and aerosol forcing estimates are incorporated and the forcing data extended from 2011 to 2016. Reflecting recent evidence against strong aerosol forcing, its AR5 uncertainty lower bound is increased slightly. Using a 1869–1882 base period and a 2007−2016 final period, which are well-matched for volcanic activity and influence from internal variability, medians are derived for ECS of 1.50 K (5−95%: 1.05−2.45 K) and for TCR of 1.20 K (5−95%: 0.9−1.7 K). These estimates both have much lower upper bounds than those from a predecessor study using AR5 data ending in 2011.

“Using infilled, globally-complete temperature data gives slightly higher estimates; a median of 1.66 K for ECS (5−95%: 1.15−2.7 K) and 1.33 K for TCR (5−95%:1.0−1.90 K). These ECS estimates reflect climate feedbacks over the historical period, assumed time-invariant.

“Allowing for possible time-varying climate feedbacks increases the median ECS estimate to 1.76 K (5−95%: 1.2−3.1 K), using infilled temperature data. Possible biases from non-unit forcing efficacy, temperature estimation issues and variability in sea-surface temperature change patterns are examined and found to be minor when using globally-complete temperature data. These results imply that high ECS and TCR values derived from a majority of CMIP5 climate models are inconsistent with observed warming during the historical period.

A press release from the Global Warming Policy Forum quoted Lewis as saying, “Our results imply that, for any future emissions scenario, future warming is likely to be substantially lower than the central computer model-simulated level projected by the IPCC, and highly unlikely to exceed that level.”

Veteran environmental science writer Ronald Bailey commented on the new paper in Reason, saying: “How much lower? Their median ECS estimate of 1.66°C (5–95% uncertainty range: 1.15–2.7°C) is derived using globally complete temperature data. The comparable estimate for 31 current generation computer climate simulation models cited by the IPCC is 3.1°C. In other words, the models are running almost two times hotter than the analysis of historical data suggests that future temperatures will be.

“In addition, the high-end estimate of Lewis and Curry’s uncertainty range is 1.8°C below the IPCC’s high-end estimate.” [emphasis added]

Cornwall Alliance Senior Fellow Dr. Roy W. Spencer (Principal Research Scientist in Climatology at the University of Alabama-Huntsville and U.S. Science Team Leader for NASA’s satellite global temperature monitoring program) commented on the paper. Even Lewis and Curry’s figures make several assumptions that are at best unknown and quite likely false. He noted:

“I’d like to additionally emphasize overlooked (and possibly unquantifiable) uncertainties: (1) the assumption in studies like this that the climate system was in energy balance in the late 1800s in terms of deep ocean temperatures; and (2) that we know the change in radiative forcing that has occurred since the late 1800s, which would mean we would have to know the extent to which the system was in energy balance back then.

“We have no good reason to assume the climate system is ever in energy balance, although it is constantly readjusting to seek that balance. For example, the historical temperature (and proxy) record suggests the climate system was still emerging from the Little Ice Age in the late 1800s. The oceans are a nonlinear dynamical system, capable of their own unforced chaotic changes on century to millennial time scales, that can in turn alter atmospheric circulation patterns, thus clouds, thus the global energy balance. For some reason, modelers sweep this possibility under the rug (partly because they don’t know how to model unknowns).

“But just because we don’t know the extent to which this has occurred in the past doesn’t mean we can go ahead and assume it never occurs.

“Or at least if modelers assume it doesn’t occur, they should state that up front.

“If indeed some of the warming since the late 1800s was natural, the ECS would be even lower.”

With regard to that last sentence, Spencer’s University of Alabama research colleague Dr. John Christy and co-authors Dr. Joseph D’Aleo and Dr. James Wallace published a paper in the fall of 2016 (revised in the spring of 2017). It argued that solar, volcanic and ocean current variations are sufficient to explain all the global warming over the period of allegedly anthropogenic warming, leaving no global warming to blame on carbon dioxide.

At the very least, this suggests that indeed “some of the warming since the late 1800s was natural” – which means the ECS would be even lower than Lewis and Curry’s estimate.

All of this has important policy implications.

Wisely or not, the global community agreed in the 2015 Paris climate accords to try to limit global warming to at most 2 C degrees – preferably 1.5 degrees – above pre-Industrial (pre-1850) levels.

If Lewis and Curry are right, and the warming effect of CO2 is only 50–70% of what the “consensus” has said, cuts in CO2 emissions need not be as drastic as previously thought. That’s good news for the billions of people living in poverty and without affordable, reliable electricity. Their hope for electricity is seriously compromised by efforts to impose a rapid transition from abundant, affordable, reliable fossil fuels to diffuse, expensive, unreliable wind and solar (and other renewable) as chief electricity sources.

Moreover, if Spencer (like many others who agree with him) is right that the assumptions behind ECS calculations are themselves mistaken … and Christy (like many others who agree with him) is right that some or all of the modern warming has been naturally driven – then ECS is even lower than Lewis and Curry thought. That would mean there is even less justification for the punitive, job-killing, poverty-prolonging energy policies sought by the “climate consensus” community.

Regardless, we’re coming closer and closer to fulfilling the prophecy in Michaels’ 2005 book. The alarmist “consensus” on anthropogenic global warming is about to be shattered – or at least eroded and driven into a clear minority status.

Via email

The Future of Nuclear Power

Nuclear power may be the safest method for powering industrial civilization, but the disaster at Chernobyl—its thirty-second anniversary was last Thursday—is a fitting reminder that not all power plants are designed with safety in mind. It also reminds us of the cognitive necessity of keeping safety risks in proper perspective, explain Independent Institute Senior Fellow William F. Shughart II and Policy Fellow Brian Isom.

Aside from the meltdown at the Chernobyl-4 reactor in 1986, “no instances of death related to radiation exposure from nuclear power plants have been recorded, even though more than 600 nuclear reactors have been built around the world since 1954,” Shughart and Isom write in The Beacon. “Remarkably, deaths associated with wind turbines over the past decade are three times as high as deaths from Chernobyl, although this statistic gets little if any media coverage.”

The ghosts of Chernobyl still haunt the nuclear power industry, but the technology is moving forward. New reactors are being developed that “are physically incapable of melting down,” Shughart and Isom report. “The world is still a long way from a future of zero carbon emissions, but that goal can be achieved sooner if nuclear energy plays a much larger role in generating electricity,” they continue. “Even today, nuclear provides an opportunity for clean, reliable baseload power that not even wind or solar can match. Throw in the added benefit of producing electricity at a level of safety no other technology can promise and it should be easy to see why it is time to consign Chernobyl to the dustbin of history.”


The EPA’s Cone of Silence

When I was a kid, I would often come home in the afternoons after school to old reruns of episodes from the 1960s comedy Get Smart airing on a local TV station, which featured the misadventures of Maxwell Smart, a secret agent who fielded an array of high-tech spy gadgets that, aside from a shoe phone, never seemed to work as intended.

One of those gadgets was a device known as the “Cone of Silence”, which was meant to allow the show’s spies to have conversations that couldn’t be monitored by outsiders, but which didn’t work at all, which became a recurring joke on the show. The following clip of the show features the Cone of Silence in action:

That vintage show has become relevant again today because the top secret spy agency known as the Environmental Protection Agency decided to unlawfully spend $43,000 to install its own version of the Cone of Silence to facilitate its adminstrators’ ability to have secure conversations. Michael Biesecker of the Los Angeles Times reports on the findings of the General Accountability Office (GAO):

An internal government watchdog says the Environmental Protection Agency violated federal spending laws when purchasing a $43,000 soundproof privacy booth for Administrator Scott Pruitt to make private phone calls in his office.

The Government Accountability Office issued its findings Monday in a letter to Senate Democrats who had requested a review of Pruitt’s spending.

GAO General Counsel Thomas Armstrong determined that EPA’s purchase of the booth violated federal law prohibiting agencies from spending more than $5,000 for redecorating, furnishings or other improvements to the offices of presidential appointees without informing Congress. Because EPA used federal money in a manner specifically prohibited by law, Armstrong said the agency also violated the Antideficiency Act, and is legally obligated to report that violation to Congress.

As wasteful spending in the federal government goes, the EPA’s installation of its own Cone of Silence technology is a small offense against fiscal discipline, costing the equivalent of one-year’s pay for a low level bureaucrat (not counting their very generous benefits package)!

In theory, bureaucrats found guilty of violating the Antideficiency Act can be prosecuted and jailed for as much as one year. In practice, Timothy Cama of The Hill confirms that no bureaucrat ever has.

Adding to the spy drama, Cama also reports on EPA chief administrator Scott Pruitt’s congressional testimony, in which he revealed that the agency’s new $43,000 soundproof booth was installed without ever having been approved by Pruitt.

Pruitt later in the hearing went a step further, saying he didn’t even approve the privacy booth expenditure.

“Career individuals at the agency took that process through and signed off on it all the way through,” Pruitt told Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.). “I was not involved in the approval of the $43,000, and if I’d known about it, congressman, I would have refused it.”

He explained the genesis of the booth as well.

“I did have a phone call that came in, of a sensitive nature, and I did not have access to secure communications. I gave direction to my staff to address that,” Pruitt said.

“And out of that came a $43,000 expenditure that I did not approve,” he continued.

Only in Washington D.C. would a recurring gag from a late-1960s television show ever become part of the U.S. government’s ongoing wasteful spending comedy over fifty years later.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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