The words of the prophets

Some news from Texas.


Remember that the blood of the innocent cries forever. Should that blood stop to cry, humanity would cease to be.” — Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Sometimes I stop to think about why I insist on tracking each congressional hearing for this newsletter. Days like today remind me of the reasons.

Sixty-five years ago, on May 1, 1957, scientist Roger Revelle testified before the Independent Offices Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations, to justify continued funding for research into rising greenhouse pollution:

“The last time that I was here I talked about the responsibility of climatic changes due to the changing carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere . . . it is fairly easy to predict that the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere could easily increase by about 20 percent. This might, in fact, make a considerable change in the climate. It would mean that the lines of equal temperature on the earth would move north and the lines of equal rainfall would move north and that southern California and a good part of Texas, instead of being just barely livable as they are now, would become real deserts.”

In 1962, five years after Revelle’s testimony, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel published The Prophets in English:

“Above all, the prophets remind us of the moral state of the people: Few are guilty, but all are responsible. If we admit that the individual is in some measure conditioned or affected by the spirit of society, an individual’s crime discloses society’s corruption. In a community not indifferent to suffering, uncompromisingly impatient with cruelty and falsehood, continually concerned for God and every man, crime would be infrequent rather than common.”

Yesterday, the headlines from Texas reflected Revelle’s prophecy:

Starting at 1:17 pm, new headlines emerged.

Also yesterday in Texas, voters went to the polls in Texas for primary run-offs—Republican voters choosing variants of wanton cruelty and open corruption for attorney general, the oil-regulating Railroad Commission, and multiple House seats.

In south Texas’s 28th district, Democratic voters were offered a choice between the anti-abortion, anti-gun-control, anti-climate incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar and Green New Dealer Jessica Cisneros. Cuellar is an evil, corrupt man, backed throughout his career by the National Rifle Association, AIPAC, and the American Petroleum Institute, as well as Democratic billionaire Reid Hoffman, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.). The Democratic leadership and SuperPACs spent millions on the lie that Cuellar was a true, honorable, loyal Democrat, and Cisneros a dangerous radical with extreme views.

As of now, the race is too close to call: Cuellar is leading Cisneros by only 177 votes, with more mail-in ballots to be counted over the coming days.

In Georgia’s primary elections, Cuellar’s corrupt colleague Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.), chair of the Agriculture Committee, easily held off progressive challenger Vincent Fort, whose campaign never caught fire. Scott, too infirm to do any meaningful campaigning in person, “dwarfed his opponents in fundraising and spent the money on campaign ads and signs that touted his record in Washington and the popular job and health fairs he routinely hosts in the district.”

“Morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings. Indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.” — Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Members of Congress are discussing their budgetary priorities for fiscal year 2023 in “member’s day” meetings before House Appropriations for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Energy and Water Development, and Agriculture on today.

Deanne Criswell, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is presenting the $30 billion FEMA request, which anticipates $20 billion to be spent for major disasters. Samantha Power, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, discusses the $30 billion USAID request, which includes $2.3 billion for international climate change programs.

The House Financial Services committee is reviewing multiple proposals to reform and reauthorize the insolvent National Flood Insurance Program, receiving testimony from Dr. Carolyn Kousky and others. Senate Commerce chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) marks up legislation to improve wildfire forecasting and gasoline-price oversight, and Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs chair Gary Peters (D-Mich.) marks up federal electric vehicle battery management, federal firefighter compensation, and FEMA turnover bills. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) receives testimony on water and power bills that deal with drought preparedness, drought funding, and western water infrastructure, playing catch-up with the desertifying Southwest.

Joseph Goffman appears before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for his nomination to be Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation at the Environmental Protection Agency.

The House Agriculture conservation and forestry subcommittee hearing on the conservation workforce, which could include the Civilian Climate Corps.

On May 24, 2022, Paul Krugman offered his own prophecy:

“I think of our response to changing climate as being like a rubber band that can be stretched a long way until it suddenly snaps. And then the megadeaths will begin.”

Hearings on the Hill:

“To us injustice is injurious to the welfare of the people; to the prophets it is a deathblow to existence: to us, an episode; to them, a catastrophe, a threat to the world.” — Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

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