Southwest monsoon rain bringing drought relief — but also dangerous flooding

Southwest monsoon rain bringing drought relief — but also dangerous flooding

 

Monsoon rain in the Southwest is putting a dent in the extreme to exceptional drought across the region, and portions of Arizona and New Mexico are seeing some of the most significant improvements.

Over the next couple of days, the monsoon rain threat will diminish across those states, the National Weather Service said, and focus instead on southern portions of California, Nevada and Utah.

Rain was reported Monday morning in the Los Angeles area.

Although the rainfall helps diminish the drought, it can lead to dangerous floods.

“The heavy rain will create mainly localized areas of flash flooding, with urban areas, roads, and small streams the most vulnerable through Tuesday morning,” the weather service said. In the San Diego area, the weather service warned that “life-threatening debris flows will be possible near recent burn scars.”

Over the weekend, a flash flood swept away a 16-year-old girl in Cottonwood, Arizona. The girl, Faith Moore, who had been trying to cross a flooded road in her car, was missing as of Sunday evening.

“I want to stress again to the public how dangerous these water crossings can be, even when it looks shallow,” Verde Valley fire district chief Danny Johnson said. “A simple decision to cross the road with running water can quickly turn tragic.”

The body of a 4-year-old girl swept away by floodwaters in southeastern Arizona last Thursday was discovered Monday.

And three flood fatalities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, last week mark the deadliest flooding event at least in recent memory in Albuquerque, said Lt. Tom Ruiz, a spokesman for Albuquerque Fire Rescue.

Although there was a slight chance for thunderstorms over Northern California and into Oregon, including where some of the nation’s worst wildfires are raging, the threat of lightning strikes and gusty, erratic winds was not good news for firefighters battling the blazes there, the weather service in Sacramento said.

In Arizona, nearly 99% of the state is in some form of drought, according to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor, which is published each Thursday.

The extent of the drought improved across the Southwest over the past week because of the rain, according to CNN. “The highest level of drought fell from 58% to 36% and marked improvements are expected again this week, with this current burst of monsoon moisture,” the network said.

Though the rain itself is popularly called a “monsoon,” the term scientifically means a seasonal shift in wind direction. In July, winds shift from the usual dry, westerly direction to the south and southeast, which taps into moisture from northern Mexico.

It’s that moisture that contributes to the summer thunderstorms that cause flash flooding. Even a small amount of rain can cause flooding, because it can’t soak into the rock-hard, bone-dry ground. Still, the monsoon provides more than half the annual rainfall to many communities in the Southwest.

The word “monsoon” is derived from the Arabic mausim, meaning “season,” according to the American Meteorological Society. Monsoon season usually runs from July until September in the Southwest.

The Southwest monsoon is not nearly as intense as the Asian monsoon, which often brings catastrophic flooding to India and other nations.

Contributing: Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY; Chelsea Curtis, The Arizona Republic; The Associated Press.

German Greens: Preventing climate disasters will be costly

Associated Press

German Greens: Preventing climate disasters will be costly

July 26, 2021

 

BERLIN (AP) — The Green party candidate hoping to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany’s upcoming election warned Monday that efforts to better prepare the country against climate-related disasters is going to be costly and will require tapping into additional sources of revenue.

Annalena Baerbock, whose party is trailing Merkel’s center-right Union bloc in recent polls, said the Greens want to invest significantly more in prevention “and that will cost money.”

 

“There’s no beating around the bush: protection against floods, rebuilding cities to make them resilient against climate change costs money,” she told reporters in Berlin.

Baerbock said the proposed measures could be paid for with money generated from carbon taxes or a softening of Germany’s debt rules — an idea the Union bloc has ruled out.

The debate over climate change and its impact on Germany has been fueled by deadly floods that hit the west of the country earlier this month. Experts say such disasters will become more severe and frequent as the planet heats up.

Baerbock also accused the Union bloc’s candidate, Armin Laschet, of having a “muddled” policy on climate change that she claimed “is a threat not just to the security of the people in our country but also to Germany as a location for industry.”

Laschet, who is the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, has struck a more hawkish tone on climate change since the floods that killed at least 180 people in Germany, including almost 50 in his state. But in an interview Sunday with public broadcaster ZDF he rejected calls to bring forward the deadline for ending the use of coal in Germany from 2038 to 2030.

Baerbock said her party will shortly announce a program of urgent climate measures that would be implemented within 100 days if the Greens take office after the Sept. 26 election.

1972 Warning of Civilizational Collapse Was on Point, New Study Finds

1972 Warning of Civilizational Collapse Was on Point, New Study Finds

​A motel sign destroyed by a wildfire in Oregon in 2020.
A motel sign destroyed by a wildfire in Oregon in 2020. The climate crisis is one example of how a 1972 study warning of limits to growth appears correct. ROB SCHUMACHER / POOL / AFP via Getty Images.

 

In 1972, a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientists published an alarming prediction: If industrial society continued to grow unchecked, it would exhaust Earth’s resources and lead to civilizational collapse by the middle of the 21st century.

That study, called The Limits to Growth, sparked controversy and concern when it first emerged. But now, new research published in the Yale Journal of Industrial Ecology says we are currently on track to living out its warnings.

“The MIT scientists said we needed to act now to achieve a smooth transition and avoid costs,” Gaya Herrington, the author of the new study, told The Guardian. “That didn’t happen, so we’re seeing the impact of climate change.”

The original Limits to Growth paper used a model called World3 to predict how factors like global population, birth rate, mortality, industrial output, food production, health and education services, non-renewable natural resources and pollution would interact to shape the future. They used the model to show different potential scenarios for the future, some leading to collapse, or a steep decline in social, economic and environmental conditions.

“Given the unappealing prospect of collapse, I was curious to see which scenarios were aligning most closely with empirical data today,” Herrington, who is also sustainability and dynamic system analysis lead at major accounting firm KPMG, said on its website. “After all, the book that featured this world model was a bestseller in the 70s, and by now we’d have several decades of empirical data which would make a comparison meaningful. But to my surprise I could not find recent attempts for this. So I decided to do it myself.”

Herrington found that we are currently closest to two of the original study’s potential futures: BAU2 (business-as-usual) and CT (comprehensive technology). In both of these scenarios, growth would start to decline in about ten years from now. In the BAU2 scenario, Herrington told VICE, this would lead to collapse starting around 2040. In the CT scenario, the decline would be more gradual, leading to what Herrington called “relatively soft landings” in the paper. However, even though the CT scenario does not indicate total collapse, it does still suggest that the status-quo cannot remain in place.

“Both scenarios thus indicate that continuing business as usual, that is, pursuing continuous growth, is not possible,” Herrington wrote in the study.

Neither of these scenarios are locked in place, of course. However, Vice noted that the data indicates policy makers have about 10 years to meaningfully act to change course. Still, Herrington argued in favor of taking that action.

“The key finding of my study is that we still have a choice to align with a scenario that does not end in collapse,” she told The Guardian. “With innovation in business, along with new developments by governments and civil society, continuing to update the model provides another perspective on the challenges and opportunities we have to create a more sustainable world.”

Ultimately, avoiding decline means turning society towards “another goal than growth,” Herrington concluded in the study.

Extreme drought pushes 2 major U.S. lakes to historic lows

Extreme drought pushes 2 major U.S. lakes to historic lows

 

Two significant U.S. lakes, one of which is a major reservoir, are experiencing historic lows amid a drought that scientists have linked to climate change.

 

What’s happening: Lake Powell, the second largest reservoir in the U.S., has fallen to 3,554 feet in elevation, leaving the crucial lake on the Colorado River, at 33% capacity — the lowest since it was filled over half a century ago, new U.S. Bureau of Reclamation data shows.

  • Utah’s Great Salt Lake, the biggest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere, saw levels plunge in the south roughly an inch below the previous record low of 4,191.4ft above sea level, set in 1963, the U.S. Geological Survey announced Saturday.
  • Wildlife is already suffering from the decline, birds and shrimp in particular.

Threat level: Utah Department of Natural Resources executive director Brian Steed noted in a statement that while the state’s lake has been gradually declining for some time, “current drought conditions have accelerated its fall to this new historic low.”

  • USGS Utah Water Science Center data chief Ryan Rowland wrote that based on current trends and historical data, it’s anticipated that “water levels may decline an additional foot over the next several months.”
  • A major threat to Lake Powell, on the Utah-Arizona border line, is that demand for water across seven U.S. and two Mexican states “that rely on the Colorado River has not declined fast enough to match the reduced supply,” noted Brad Udall, a climate scientist at Colorado State University, to Cronkite News.
  • “The hard lesson we’re learning about climate change is that it’s not a gradual, slow descent to a new state of affairs,” Udall added.

The big picture: Lakes across the country are under strain from a mega-drought.

  • 95% of the West is experiencing drought conditions — and over 28% is facing exceptional drought, according to the U.S. drought monitor.

Arizona ER Doctor Visibly Stunned By Video Of Trump Rally: ‘Dangerous And Stupid’

Arizona ER Doctor Visibly Stunned By Video Of Trump Rally: ‘Dangerous And Stupid’

 

An emergency room doctor described the behavior of the people who attended a crowded, indoor rally for former President Donald Trump as extremely dangerous and stupid amid soaring COVID-19 case rates in the area.

“If you make a dumb decision about your own health, on one level you could say, ‘Well, it’s your life,’” said Dr. Murtaza Akhter, who works on the COVID-19 frontline with Valleywise Health in Phoenix. “But when it’s infectious disease that’s this contagious and affects so many people, you’re not just affecting yourself, you’re affecting everybody around you.”

Akhter made the comments after viewing footage of the packed “Protect Our Election” rally held at the Arizona Federal Theater over the weekend. Thousands of mostly maskless people crowded together as Trump and right-wing figures took the stage to continue his “stolen election” fiction and push anti-mask, anti-science rhetoric.

Footage on CNN showed MAGA merch-clad supporters yelling at the camera, “No masks! No masks! Take off the masks!”

Akhter said he had no doubt that there would be an increase in cases following the event.

In Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, just 42% of people have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19. New daily cases have more than doubled in the past two weeks as the highly infectious delta variant rapidly spreads around the state and country, predominantly infecting and causing serious illness to unvaccinated people.

How many years until we must act on climate? Zero, say these climate thinkers

How many years until we must act on climate? Zero, say these climate thinkers

 

Peter Kalmus: ‘Zero years’

We have zero years before climate and ecological breakdown, because it’s already here. We have zero years left to procrastinate. The longer we wait to act, the worse the floods, fires, droughts, famines and heatwaves will get.

Related: Don’t blame men for the climate crisis – we should point the finger at corporations

The primary cause of these catastrophes is burning fossil fuel. Therefore, we must shut down the fossil fuel industry as quickly as we can. Fossil fuel subsidies must end today. New fracking wells, pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure can no longer be built; that we continue on this path is collective insanity. Fossil fuel must be capped and rationed, and diverted to necessities as we transition to a zero-carbon civilization. If we fail, the planet will continue to heat up, creeping past 1.5C, then 2C, then 3C of global heating as we keep squandering precious time. With every fraction of a degree, the floods and fires and heat will get worse. Coastal cities will be abandoned. Ocean currents will shift. Crops will fail. Ecosystems will collapse. Hundreds of millions will flee regions with humid heat too high for the human body. Geopolitics will break down. No place will be safe. These disasters are like gut punches to our civilization.

There are tipping points lurking in our future, but it’s impossible to know when they will be triggered. What’s certain is that every day we fail to act brings us closer. Some, like the loss of the Amazon rainforest, may already have been passed.

Jennifer Francis: ‘We cannot wait’

We need to immediately stop subsidizing all aspects of the fossil fuel industry. According to this report, the fossil fuel industry received $66bn in 2016, while renewables (excluding nuclear) only received $9.5bn. We should instead use those billions of subsidy dollars to ramp up the renewable energy industry: generation (wind, solar, nuclear), distribution (smarter grid), storage and electric transportation.

If we do not succeed in changing our destructive behavior, the increasing trends in extreme weather, sea levels, government destabilization and human misery will continue and worsen.

Extreme heatwaves, drought, wildfires and flooding events like those we’ve seen in recent summers will become commonplace. Many coastal cities and communities around the globe will be increasingly inundated by high tides and storm surges. Longer, more intense droughts will destroy cropland and force agricultural communities to uproot their families in search of a better life. The devastation of coral reefs around the world will worsen, wiping out fisheries that provide staple protein for millions of people. All of these impacts are happening now. If we don’t act fast, many communities, cultures and species will cease to exist.

  • Jennifer Francis is senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center
Michael Mann: ‘Strictly speaking, zero’

How many years do we have to act? Strictly speaking, zero – which is to say, that we must act, in earnest, now. We have a decade within which we must halve global carbon emissions. As I argue in The New Climate Warthis requires dramatic systemic change: no new fossil fuel infrastructure, massive subsidies for renewables, carbon pricing and deploying other policy tools to accelerate the clean energy transition already under way.

We are seeing unprecedented public awareness, renewed leadership from the US and diplomatic progress with China, the other of the world’s two largest carbon polluters. There is reason for cautious optimism that we can rise to the challenge. But there is much work to do, and precious little time now to do it. We must now choose between two paths as we face our future. One leads to massive suffering and collapse of our civilizational infrastructure. The other leads to a prosperous future for us, our children and grandchildren. But it requires that we leave fossil fuels behind. The choice is ours.

  • Michael E Mann is distinguished professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University. He is author of the recent bookThe New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back our Planet
Holly Jean Buck: ‘We need action now’

We need to ramp up action now in order to transform all of our major systems by 2050: energy, transportation, industry, agriculture, waste management. We’ll need to eat less meat, farm in ways that store more carbon in the soils, reforest degraded or abandoned land and restore wetlands.

We need to force companies to outfit cement plants and other industrial facilities with carbon capture technologies. When it comes to energy, we need to electrify everything. This means replacing gas-fired heating systems with an electric heat pump in your home and swapping out gas-fired stoves. It means inventing new types of energy storage for those times when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining, and getting used to responding to the grid – for example, turning down your air conditioning when the power company says there isn’t enough power (or letting them control your thermostat).

It means shutting down fossil fuel power plants and ramping up wind, solar, geothermal and probably nuclear, as well as building new transmission lines. Our targets should be 60% renewable electricity by 2030, and 90% by 2050. This means tripling renewable installations by 2030, or installing the equivalent of the world’s largest solar farm every day. If those power lines and solar panels look like they are industrializing the landscape, just think about the less visible but deadly costs of the old infrastructure. Fossil fuel combustion was responsible for 8.7m deaths in 2018.

Fossil fuels need to be phased out around the globe. What will people in those industries do? We will need entire new industries in hydrogen and carbon management, industries that turn captured carbon dioxide into fuels and other products as well as store it underground. We can’t just let fossil fuel companies pivot to becoming petrochemical companies, and find ourselves awash in more plastic. We can recycle, use products made from carbon, and innovate new bio-products. It’s not just an energy transition, it’s a materials transition.

And it needs to be global. If we don’t succeed in transitioning away from fossil fuels globally, we could face an uneven world where a few rich countries congratulate themselves for going green, and a few oil producer nations are supplying the rest of the world with dirty fuel, which they use because they don’t have alternatives. In that world, greenhouse gas concentrations keep rising. Climate change exacerbates the risk of war and conflict. It’s hard to measure or model this for exact quantitative projections, but it’s a serious concern. Phasing out fossil fuels, and supporting other countries in exiting fossil fuels, is the best bet for a peaceful future.

Drought-Stressed Chile Is Reining In Its Privatized Water Model

Drought-Stressed Chile Is Reining In Its Privatized Water Model

Alejandra Salgado and Valentina Fuentes           July 28, 2021

 

(Bloomberg) — Chilean senators approved a decade-old bill to reform the country’s water code, including setting horizons on entitlements and enshrining access as a human right.

In a unanimous vote late Tuesday, lawmakers pushed through a package of changes that include capping currently unlimited water rights at a maximum of 30 years and empowering regulators to suspend rights that aren’t being used or if supplies are at risk. Agriculture accounts for most water consumption in Chile, which is a major exporter of fruit and wine as well as copper and lithium.

Born in the 1980s Pinochet dictatorship, Chile’s water system relies heavily on private enterprise and market forces to allocate rights and deliver services. Water is expected to be one of the topics of discussion among delegates chosen to draft a new constitution as Chile looks to address lingering inequalities amid a decade-long drought exacerbated by climate change.

The package of changes, which still requires votes on individual articles, establishes water as a national good for public use and sets greater protections for supplies in indigenous communities. Private sector holders of water entitlements will be able to obtain extensions if they’re deemed to be making good use of rights.

“This bill reinforces the priority of human consumption and adds priority to safeguard ecosystems,” Public Works Minister Alfredo Moreno said. “It allows us to advance in the task of facing climate change.”

These companies still donate to Jan. 6 seditionists in Congress

Quartz

These companies still donate to Jan. 6 seditionists in Congress

 

Tim Fernholz, Senior reporter                         July 27, 2021

 

REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE. Under CEO Dave Calhoun, Boeing has funneled $269,500 to Republican politicians who voted to reject lawful votes.
FROM OUR OBSESSION – Fixing capitalism
Capitalism is just a collection of human decisions. We can change it if we want to.

The testimony in today’s Congressional investigation into the events of Jan. 6, 2021 was brutal. Witnesses described the melee that resulted as pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to take over the US Capitol building during the certification of the 2020 presidential election while beating, stabbing, and choking police officers.

“President Trump invited us here,” one officer said the rioters told him. “We’re here to stop the steal. Joe Biden is not the president, nobody voted for Joe Biden.”

Why would people hold this false belief to be true? The former president, Donald Trump, and key leaders in his party told them it was. Today, the belief in the big lie that Trump won the election is a key plank in the Republican Party platform.

“Nothing, truly nothing, has prepared me to address those elected members of our government who continue to deny the events of that day,” another officer, Michael Fanone, told lawmakers. “And in doing so, betray their oath of office.”

Corporations reneged on promises to end funding to politicians who lied about the 2020 election 

After the shocking incursion, anger over the events of that day was widespread. Many US corporations said they would stop donating to the campaign funds of the 140 Republican politicians who voted to reject election results from states where Biden won the election fair and square. These actions would provide the bare minimum of sanction for undermining the rule of law in the US.

Well, ha. It didn’t take long for major businesses to forget about the rule of law and get back to the business of paying for access to legislators. Today’s hearing, the first of several designed to probe the events of that day and dispel lies about what happened, is a good opportunity to highlight some of the recidivist firms who have no problem backing politicians willing to strip away Americans’ right to vote.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) keeps track of which businesses are donating to members of the “sedition caucus,” the 147 senators and members of congress who voted to reject voters in Arizona and Georgia. No evidence was brought then or now to suggest the results of the votes in those states were compromised.

Many firms said they would “pause” their political giving, providing an easy excuse to resume it quietly. More notable are the firms that made a firm commitment to stop, rather than pause, political giving, and then reneged on their commitment. Some gave to individual lawmakers, while others donated to party committees in the senate (NRSC) and House (NRCC) whose leaders voted to toss out valid electoral results. Here are the 13 companies, ranked by total donations, that reversed their position:

Company Contributions to NRCC and NRSC Contributions to Members and Leadership PACs Total
Boeing $210,000 $59,500 $269,500
Walmart $60,000 $0 $60,000
General Motors $15,000 $42,000 $57,000
PNC $55,000 $0 $55,000
Cigna $30,000 $19,500 $49,500
Comcast $30,000 $0 $30,000
Pfizer $30,000 $0 $30,000
General Electric $30,000 $0 $30,000
Johnson & Johnson $30,000 $0 $30,000
Bloomin’ Brands $0 $20,000 $20,000
Home Depot $15,000 $0 $15,000
Dell $15,000 $0 $15,000
United Parcel Services (UPS) $0 $12,500 $12,500

Spokespeople for the companies argue that this is just another way to support American values. “Engagement with those with whom we disagree is a critical part of the democratic process and our responsibility in legislative advocacy as a company,” Danielle Cassady, a UPS spokesperson, told the Washington Post, somewhat blurring the lines between engaging and supporting financially.

Among all donors to the sedition caucus—not just those who said they’d stop funding—Boeing is also the largest. The top 10 list includes many other defense contractors who depend on government largesse for business, including General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, and BAE Systems. Also there is American Crystal Sugar, which spends big in Washington to support farm subsidies and block sugar imports, and Koch Energy, motivated by petroleum subsidies and ideology. Rounding out the list is Nextera Energy, Fresenius Medical Care Holdings, train company CSX, and Toyota, which is (weirdly) lobbying against electric cars.

It’s worth noting the companies who appear to have stuck by their promise to avoid donating to lawmakers who voted to throw out legally cast votes. Amazon’s corporate political action committee hasn’t reported any donations to the Federal Election Commission this year, nor have the two operated by megabank JPMorgan Chase.

Corporations, definitionally amoral and compelled by the profit motive, were always unlikely standard-bearers for American democracy. But if their leadership forgot what it was like to see insurrectionists battering police officers and threatening their lives in an effort to stop the vote, you don’t have to.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger delivers emotional opening statement at Jan. 6 hearing: ‘Self-governance is at stake’

Yahoo – News

Rep. Adam Kinzinger delivers emotional opening statement at Jan. 6 hearing: ‘Self-governance is at stake’

David Knowles, Senior Editor                     July 27, 2021

 

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans serving on the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot by supporters of then-President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol, delivered an emotional opening statement Tuesday in which he took aim at members of his own party and praised the bravery of the police who battled rioters for hours.

Addressing four Capitol Police and D.C. Metropolitan Police officers called to testify about the violence they endured from the mob that attacked them in an effort to prevent the certification of the Electoral College vote showing Joe Biden had won the presidential race, Kinzinger fought to hold back tears.

“You guys may individually feel a little broken. You guys all talk about the effects you have to deal with, you know, you talk about the impact of that day,” Kinzinger began before choking up. “But you guys won. You guys held.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., pauses as he speaks during the House select committee hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 27, 2021. (Andrew Harnik/Pool via AP)
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., at the House select committee hearing Tuesday on the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. (Andrew Harnik/Pool/AP)

 

His voice quavering, the Illinois Republican — who voted in January to impeach Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection — spoke of the need for his own party to engage in an honest look at what transpired on Jan. 6 and why.

“You know, democracies are not defined by our bad days. We’re defined from how we come back from bad days, how we take accountability for that. And for all the overheated rhetoric surrounding this committee, our mission is very simple: It’s to find the truth and it’s to ensure accountability.”

Like Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who was also appointed to the committee by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Kinzinger has been sharply rebuked by members of his own party for both his outspoken denunciations of Trump and his participation in the Jan. 6 investigation. On Tuesday, he shot back at his GOP critics.

“Like most Americans, I’m frustrated that six months after a deadly insurrection breached the United States Capitol for several hours on live television, we still don’t know exactly what happened. Why? Because many in my party have treated this as just another partisan fight,” Kinzinger said. “It’s toxic and it’s a disservice to the officers and their families, to the staff and the employees in the Capitol complex, to the American people who deserve the truth and to those generations before us who went to war to defend self-governance — because self-governance is at stake.”

Yet Kinzinger also made a plea to his Republican colleagues to set aside their fealty to Trump, which he has argued is motivated by fear.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., listens during the House select committee hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 27, 2021. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via AP)
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., at Tuesday’s hearing. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via AP)

 

“This cannot continue to be a partisan fight. I’m a Republican, I’m a conservative, but in order to heal from the damage caused that day we need to call out the facts. It’s time to stop the outrage and the conspiracies that fueled the violence and division in this country, and, most importantly, we need to reject those that promote it.”

Calling out the criticisms by Republicans like Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene that the House should instead be investigating the violent Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Kinzinger did not hide his disdain for that comparison.

“Some have concocted a counter-narrative to discredit this process on the grounds that we didn’t launch a similar investigation into the urban riots and looting last summer,” he said. “Mr. Chairman, I was called on to serve during the summer riots as an Air National Guardsman. I condemned those riots and destruction of property that resulted. But not once did I ever feel that the future of self-governance was threatened like I did on Jan. 6.”

Like Cheney’s, Kinzinger’s political future has been put in doubt because he defied Trump and his ardent supporters. But on Tuesday he made clear that his aim extended beyond his own reelection.

“As a country, it’s time to learn from our past mistakes, rebuild stronger so this never happens again, and then we can move onward.”

Tom Barrack, Donald Trump and the (other) most corrupt White House in history

Tom Barrack, Donald Trump and the (other) most corrupt White House in history

Kevin M. Kruse, MSNBC Opinion Columnist      July 25, 2021

The Trump administration was one of the most thoroughly criminal political machines America has ever experienced. But at least one president may have him beat.
IMage: Then-President Donald Trump speaks to the media on the South Lawn of the White House in 2019.

Then-President Donald Trump speaks to the media on the South Lawn of the White House in 2019.Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

The criminal charges brought last week against Tom Barrack, a major fundraiser for former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and chairman of his 2017 inaugural committee, were simply the latest in a long string of indictments (and convictions) of high-level Trump associates. (A spokesperson for Barrack, who was released Friday on $250 million bond, said the former fundraiser “has made himself voluntarily available to investigators from the outset. He is not guilty and will be pleading not guilty.”)

The list of Trump associates investigated, indicted or convicted for various crimes goes on and on and on and on and on and on.

Paul Manafort, chairman of Trump’s 2016 campaign, was convicted on charges of banking and tax fraud in 2018. Manafort’s aide and deputy campaign manager, Rick Gates, likewise faced indictments for bank fraud and money laundering (among other crimes) before pleading guilty to lesser charges.

Steve Bannon, campaign CEO and special counselor to the president, was charged with criminal conspiracies to commit wire fraud and money laundering. (He pleaded not guilty, but the charges were later dismissed due in part to confusion over his presidential pardon.)

Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime attorney and fixer, pleaded guilty in 2018 to tax fraud, bank fraud, campaign finance violations and other charges. Roger Stone, another Trump confidant and fixer, was convicted in 2019 on seven counts of witness tampering, obstruction of justice and lying to Congress. Michael Flynn, who served as Trump’s national security adviser for less than a month before resigning in disgrace, pleaded guilty — twice — to lying to FBI investigators.

The list of Trump associates investigated, indicted or convicted for various crimes goes on and on and on and on and on and on. (And, we should note, that list doesn’t include those whose transgressions have been ignored, such as the five members of Trump’s Cabinet whose cases the Department of Justice declined to prosecute.)

The latest criminal charges are surely not the last to be brought against Trump’s inner circle, given the wide array of investigations into his family, friends and business associates that are still underway. The final count of indictments and convictions won’t be known for some time, but it’s already clear that Trump’s team will go down as one of the most thoroughly criminal political machines in American history.

To be sure, other administrations have racked up considerable convictions in the past. The Nixon White House, most famously, unraveled not just with the resignations of the president and vice president, but with dozens of members sent to jail, including a former attorney general, White House counsel and several of the president’s top aides. The Reagan administration likewise ended with dozens indicted or convicted.

The bulk of the criminal charges in those administrations centered on abuses of power for political ends, most notably in the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals. Trump’s inner circle has faced fallout from comparable investigations, such as special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into their ties to Russia. But the bulk of the charges levied against them have revolved around more personal crimes of financial fraud and garden-variety graft.

To find the real counterpart to Trump’s gang of money-grubbing grifters, we need to look back a century to the crime-riddled administration of Warren G. Harding.

Much like Trump, who promised as a candidate to “drain the swamp” of criminality and corruption, Harding spent the 1920 campaign calling for a return to a “normalcy” marked by old-fashioned values that he promised to instill in Washington. “We need the stamp of common, every-day honesty everywhere,” he told a gathering of newspaper editors that August. “We need it in politics, in government, in our daily lives.”

Despite such soaring appeals to virtue, the government Harding created proved riven with vice.

Harding had his own considerable sins — drinking, gambling, cheating on his wife — but none crossed the line into serious criminal misconduct. Many of the friends and associates Harding chose for his administration, however, blew well past that line, in an unrivaled wave of official corruption and criminality.

Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall, an old friend of Harding’s from the Senate, famously used his own government position to line his considerable pockets. Fall took the federal oil reserves at Teapot Dome, in Wyoming, and Elk Hills, in California — which were set aside for use by the U.S. Navy — and leased them to private oil companies. A congressional inquiry revealed that oilmen had bribed Fall with an array of ill-gotten goods, including nearly a quarter-million dollars in war bonds, a black bag stuffed with $100,000 in cash and a herd of prized cattle for Fall’s ranch back in New Mexico. Convicted of the crimes, Fall was fined $100,000 and sentenced to a year in prison, the first Cabinet official ever to go to jail.

Col. Charles Forbes, director of the Veterans Bureau, ran an even bigger scam, one that cheated the country out of an estimated $200 million. Tasked with the care of wounded World War I veterans, Forbes ruled that trainloads of brand-new bandages and bedding for them were useless, selling them as cheap surplus to private vendors and getting kickbacks in return. He oversaw similar schemes with the selection of hospital sites and the construction of hospitals. After his swindles came to light, Forbes was sentenced to two years in Leavenworth.

The most brazen member of the Harding crime ring, however, was technically the chief law enforcement officer for the nation, Attorney General Harry Daugherty. Ringleader of a loose collection of con men and cheats known as the “Ohio gang,” he oversaw a diversified criminal enterprise, selling off government appointments, immunity from prosecution, pardons and paroles for criminals, and various acts of minor graft. Justice came for the Ohio gang too, with several sent to prison and nearly as many dying by suicide to avoid a similar fate. Daugherty destroyed evidence and refused to testify at his own two trials but still managed to avoid a conviction.

The most brazen member of the Harding crime ring, however, was technically the chief law enforcement officer for the nation, Attorney General Harry Daugherty.

When Harding finally realized the widespread wrongdoing in his administration, he felt betrayed. “I have no trouble with my enemies,” he told a visitor in spring 1923. “But my damn friends, my God-damn friends … they’re the ones that keep me walking the floor nights!” The president tried to escape the scandals of Washington that summer with a Western tour, but he succumbed to a brain embolism and died that August.

Trump, of course, is not likely to suffer the same debilitating shame over the considerable crimes of his inner circle. As president, he scoffed at most of their indictments and offered pardons for many of their convictions. Although he succeeded in erasing some of their criminal records, the record criminality of his administration will still endure.