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Baby It’s Very, Very Cold Outside

The big story of the day is obviously the record-setting cold in the upper midwest and northeast, with six states suffering lower temperatures on Wednesday than the South Pole, but theres’s not much to be said about it and nothing to be done.
As always the skeptics of “global warming” will gloat how about how cold it is, as President Donald Trump has already done, but even such a cold snap as this one doesn’t disprove the man-caused climate change theory any more than the heat waves that will inevitably come next summer will prove anything. The temperatures hit a toasty 116 degrees in Australia while North Dakota was at minus-49 degrees, and although it’s still darned cold the South Pole is also warmer than usual. Such extremes are worrisome, to be sure, but don’t necessarily mean that we need to ban big cars.
Temporary power outages and strained natural gas pipelines in Minneapolis and a few other frozen cities should spur some conversation and perhaps even action on the country’s aging infrastructure, but if that happens it will probably be inn the states rather than at the gridlocked federal level. On Tuesday the heads of America’s intelligence agencies were warning Congress that the Chinese and Russians could pick a moment such as this shutdown major portions of the national power grid but on Wednesday Trump was “tweeting” that they “need to back to school.” The current death toll from the cold is seven, which strikes us as miraculously low given the number of homeless in America, but that persistent issue will also go unaddressed.
We can say that we wish our best to our neighbors to the north, even though they’re crazy to be there and better them than us.</div?

— Bud Norman

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Grading Hurricanes on the Curve

As Hurricane Florence heads toward the mid-Atlantic coast, threatening 130 mile an hour winds and 83-foot waves and severe flooding, President Donald Trump is promising another one of his A-plus efforts to deal with it. He’s also describing his response to last year’s Hurricane Maria as an A-plus effort, though, which should give pause to anyone in Florence’s path.
Most Puerto Ricans give Trump’s efforts a much lower grade, according to a recent poll commissioned by The Washington Post and the Kaiser family foundation. Only 15 percent of the respondents describe Trump as doing an “excellent” or “very good” or merely “good” job, with 52 percent rating his performance as “poor” and another 28 percent calling it “fair.” The Puerto Rican government and the territory’s governor fared only slightly better, with 25 percent giving high to the former and 31 percent to the latter, while the federal government’s overall response got favorable reviews from 39 percent and 41 percent approved on their local government’s efforts.
Such dissatisfaction is understandable. Sixty-four people died during the storm — a low number compared to other recent hurricanes, which Trump proudly touted in the immediate aftermath — but the lack of potable water and fresh food and medical services caused the storm’s death toll to rise to 2,975, making it the second deadliest natural disaster in American history. A year later large parts of the island remain without electricity and power outages remain common almost everywhere, the roads to several remote towns remain closed, and re-building efforts are moving slowly.
Trump is right to note that the Puerto Rican government had let its infrastructure to deteriorate to a vulnerable state, as most Puerto Ricans apparently agree, and he’s also right that getting needed supplies and personnel to a far-off island is more difficult than responding to a hurricane on the mainland. Even so, we can’t argue with any Puerto Rican who gives Trump a lower grade than A-plus. Nor can we blame them if they still resent Trump’s “tweets” about how the lazy Puerto Ricans wanted everyone else to take care of their problems, or his petty feud with the San Juan mayor who was wading through waist-deep waters to deliver help while the president was playing golf on one of his own courses.
The states and municipalities along the projected path of Hurricane Florence are more well-run and better built to withstand a hurricane than Puerto Rico, and their English-speaking citizens can probably expect more presidential attention in the lead-up to a mid-term election they’re eligible to vote in, but it looks a hard rain that’s gonna fall. We’ll be hoping for an honestly -earned A-plus to help out.

— Bud Norman