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Is Santorum Behind Limbaugh’s Claim Obama Tampered With Weather Service Data?

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Rush Limbaugh infamously claimed yesterday that President Obama tampered with National Weather Service data to force the GOP to cancel the Republican National Convention in Tampa. But do you know what’s behind the real reason Limbaugh spun this wild yarn? Here’s what Limbaugh told his listeners yesterday:

The media is now out there saying that Hurricane Katrina is hanging like a pall over the Republican convention in Tampa. So this whole thing has been politicized, as the Democrats politicize everything, and that’s why we are talking about it. Now, I want to remind you: All last week… And, no, at no time here am I alleging a conspiracy. At no time. With none of this am I alleging conspiracy. All last week what was the target? Tampa. What was going on in Tampa this week?

The Republican National Convention. A pretty important one, too. Introducing the nominee, Mitt Romney. It’s only after the convention that Romney can actually start spending all of this money that he’s raised, so this convention is very important. It’s a chance to introduce Romney to a lot of people who don’t know him yet. And I noticed that the hurricane center’s track is — and I’m not alleging conspiracies here. The hurricane center is the regime; the hurricane center is the Commerce Department.

It’s the government.

It’s Obama.

Let’s look at the last part of that excerpt again:

The hurricane center is the regime; the hurricane center is the Commerce Department.

It’s the government.

It’s Obama.

Many will remember that last year, news broke that the Republicans have been for years trying to eliminate the National Weather Service, the National Hurricane Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and its parent, the Commerce Department.

Who has been at the forefront of the madness to eliminate the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Service? Rick Santorum. And Santorum’s ignorant hatred of all things science may have led to Limbaugh’s attempt to de-legitimize the National Weather Service, the National Hurricane Service, the NOAA, and the Commerce Department. In the Republican silo, one voice echoes loud, clear, and long.

To be clear, I’m not saying Santorum called Limbaugh and asked him to say stupid things about the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Service on the air — I’m just saying the Republican mindset is like the Borg.

In January, prior to the failed former Pennsylvania Senator’s pulling out of the presidential campaign, Politico reported:

While a seemingly obscure issue next to abortion, gay marriage and tax cuts, weather forecasting inspired a defining controversy for the tail end of Santorum’s U.S. Senate career: his sponsorship of a 2005 bill aimed at hobbling the federal agency’s ability to compete with commercial forecasters like AccuWeather.

The bill went nowhere but brought Santorum a nationwide pasting from bloggers, weather enthusiasts, airline pilots and other critics. Some of them noted that executives from AccuWeather — a company based in State College, Pa., in Santorum’s home state — had donated thousands of dollars to his campaigns over the years.

Doubling down later in the year, Santorum also accused the weather service’s National Hurricane Center of flubbing its forecasts for Hurricane Katrina’s initial landfall in Florida, despite the days of all-too-prescient warnings the agency had given that the storm would subsequently strike the Gulf Coast.

Under the bill, commercial weather providers like AccuWeather would have continued to get access to the weather service’s data, while the federal agency would have been prohibited from providing “a product or service … that is or could be provided by the private sector.” The legislation would have counteracted a 2004 policy change by the George W. Bush administration that had broadened the weather service’s ability to create new products and release data, including over the Internet.

At the time, Santorum said the bill was needed to prevent the weather service from driving competitors out of business.

Opponents, including Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), argued that the bill threatened to deny vital information to residents of hurricane-threatened states by reverting the weather service to a “pre-Internet era.”

One year ago to the day, yesterday, Fox News published a wildly insane op-ed in by Iain Murray and David Bier that claimed the National Weather Service “may actually be dangerous,” is too expensive and should be scrapped, as The New Civil Rights Movement reported:

Murray and Bier, ignorantly, stated, the NWS ”issues severe weather advisories and hijacks local radio and television stations to get the message out. It presumes that citizens do not pay attention to the weather and so it must force important, perhaps lifesaving, information upon them. A few seconds’ thought reveals how silly this is. The weather might be the subject people care most about on a daily basis. There is a very successful private TV channel dedicated to it, 24 hours a day, as well as any number of phone and PC apps. Americans need not be forced to turn over part of their earnings to support weather reporting.”

The authors posit “the National Hurricane Center and its parent agency, the National Weather Service, are relics from America’s past that have actually outlived their usefulness,” and complain the the public is forced to pay more than $1 billion per year for the NWS.” Which, asNew York TImes statistician Nate Silver responds, “costs average American $3 per year.” Silver also adds, “The daft Fox News editorial also ignores the fact that private companies like AccuWeather get most of their data from the gov’t (for free).”

By the way, that Fox op-ed ran during the Hurricane Irene aftermath, when only none people had been reported dead from the storm. That number jumped to at least 40 when all was said and done.

Of course, since logic is never a hammer in the GOP tool chest, Republicans have continued their war on all things federal, and want the Commerce Department, and services like the National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service gone. This is the same GOP who think so little of FEMA that they put Michael Brown in charge of it, under President George W. Bush, from January 2003 until he resigned in national disgrace in September 2005, after the mess he made related to Katrina.

You’ll remember Michael Brown thusly:

Before joining the DHS/FEMA, Brown was the Judges and Stewards Commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association, (IAHA), from 1989-2001. After numerous lawsuits were filed against the organization over disciplinary actions that Brown took against members violating the Association’s code of ethics, Brown resigned and negotiated a buy-out of his contract.

After Bush entered office in January 2001, Brown joined FEMA as General Counsel. He was the first person hired by his long-time friend, then-FEMA director Joe Allbaugh, who also ran Bush’s election campaign in 2000.

Meanwhile, back to the National Weather Service.

Just ten days ago, the Palm Beach Daily News reported “Budget cuts may ground NOAA weather satellite program“:

Less well known [federal budget cuts] are those that affect the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the parent organization of the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Sequestration would slash $182 million from NOAA’s satellite program, the lifeblood of weather forecasting, particularly during the hurricane season.

The NHC improves its tracking of storms a little each year.

Continuing improvement is dependent on technology and a new generation of satellites that could also boost hurricane forecasts in the weakest of areas – intensification prediction. Delaying or eliminating the new generation of satellites could shift NHC progress back down to neutral. Or worse.

As the old saying goes, you can either pay now or pay later. Weather-related damage cost Florida $31.4 billion from 2002 to 2010, according to Marion Blakely, president of the Aerospace Industries Association and former FAA administrator under President George W. Bush.

Residents of Florida, and particularly areas such as Palm Beach on the state’s vulnerable southeast coast, understand how important hurricane forecasting is. Most people also know that almost all the weather data analyzed and presented in the U.S. media – even by private commercial enterprises such as AccuWeather and Weather Underground – is generated by NOAA.

But not everyone knows how the chain of information works. Several years ago, a congressman asked a senior government official testifying about satellite budgets: “Why are we building meteorological satellites when we have the Weather Channel?”

Regardless of whether you get your information from CBS, CNN, AccuWeather or the Weather Channel, official hurricane forecasts all originate from the same place: The National Hurricane Center. There may be different interpretations of the data, but that’s where the information is collected.

The GOP’s war on science and women may some day be the end of America as we know it.

Hope you’re registered to vote.

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

The ‘White Power Movement’ Is Ramping Up Its Attacks on Energy Infrastructure – Anti-Terrorism Expert Explains Why

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Professor, historian and author Kathleen Belew, one of the United States’ top experts on white supremacist and white nationalist terrorism, has often stressed that violent, racially motivated attacks shouldn’t be viewed as isolated incidents, but as part of a broader movement. And when Belew made a Monday night, February 6 appearance on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” she explained how a Maryland woman’s alleged role in a plot to attack five energy substations in the Baltimore area fits into the overall “white power” game plan.

Earlier in the day, law enforcement officials had announced the arrest of Maryland resident Sarah Beth Clendaniel, who, they allege, conspired with fellow white supremacist Brandon Russell in that plot. Clendaniel and Russell, according to officials, hoped to completely disable energy infrastructure in Baltimore and deprive the city of electricity for an extended period of time.

During her conversation with Maddow, Belew emphasized that this was not an isolated incident. White supremacists, white nationalists and neo-Nazis, according to the professor, are targeting energy infrastructure in general — not just in Baltimore, Maryland.

READ MORE: Why the power grid is an ‘attractive target’ for domestic terrorists and white supremacists: report

Belew, author of the 2019 book, “Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America,” told Maddow, “The electrical part may be new, but infrastructure attacks by this movement are not new. This is a strategy that was pioneered by a group called The Order in 1983…. Infrastructure attacks are one kind of violence among several others that are all laid out in a strategy in common in order to bring about what the movement seeks, which is the overthrow of the United States and the creation of a white ethno-state — mass violence against communities of color and even genocide against non-white peoples.”

According to Belew — who teaches at Northwestern University in the Chicago suburbs — attacks on energy infrastructure and the January 6, 2021 insurrection are both part of the “white power” game plan.

Belew told Maddow, “Infrastructure attacks sit next to a show of forced violence like the January 6 attack on the Capitol and mass casualty violence like the Oklahoma City bombing. All of these exist together within one broad ideology in the white power movement.”

READ MORE: Terrorism expert explains why the Great Replacement theory is so central to white racist ideology

Watch the full video at this link.

Image via Wikimedia and a Creative Commons license

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COMMENTARY

Right-Wing Outraged Over Falsely Thinking White House Press Secretary Said National Security Council Is Using ‘TikTok’

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For decades White House press secretaries, military officers, and reporters have used the words “tick-tock” to denote an overview of a conversation, or a chronological telling of a series of events – and not the now-popular Chinese app “TikTok,” which some allege has major national security implications.

And yet, the far-right-wing website Daily Caller, a veteran Fox News host, and many others on the social media site Twitter attacked Karine Jean-Pierre Monday afternoon, after the White House Press Secretary told the press: “I know there was a tick-tock that went out to all of you from the National Security Council that was pretty detailed on how everything broke down for the past week.”

Inside Elections’ Jacob Rubashkin mocked The Daily Caller, (which was founded by Tucker Carlson,) for getting something so basic so wrong.

READ MORE: Morning Joe Reminds Viewers of the Last Time the Koch Network ‘Stopped the Craziness’ in GOP Primaries

Longtime journalist Keith Olberman blasted several people on Twitter who assumed the worst, including veteran Fox News reporter David Asman.

He didn’t stop there.

 

 

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News

House Ethics Committee Begins Questioning Santos Staffers

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The U.S. House Committee on Ethics has begun questioning staffers for embattled Rep. George Santos, who on Friday was accused of sexual harassment and improper hiring practice by a prospective aide the New York Republican interviewed and hired.

CNN Capitol Hill reporter Melanie Zanona, reporting the committee’s questioning, calls it “a sign that the committee is looking into some of the allegations against Santos, though it doesn’t necessarily mean a formal investigation has been launched yet.”

“It is unclear what exactly the committee asked these staffers about, but multiple ethics complaints have been filed against Santos,” Zanona adds.

READ MORE: Watch: Democrats File Ethics Complaint Against George Santos After GOP Leadership Calls It an ‘Internal’ Matter

Most recently, a prospective staffer filed a complaint that the congressman made an unwanted sexual advance.

Two New York Democrats last month also filed an ethics complaint against Santos over his financial disclosure reporting.

 

 

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