Browser Outrage Dump

Time for another thread, I’d say, and I don’t have the functioning synapses to come up with anything new to say about the moral and intellectual crater that is both the Republican Party and the right’s public intellection bunch. (Did you know that Ron Johnson’s mug is being considered as the “After” portrait in the upcoming “Don’t Eat Tide Pods” campaign? Or that Rod Dreher’s thought leading crunchy conservative Christianity is racist to its root?)

So here I’m just going to lock and load some stuff I’ve kept open in my browser, waiting for the moment to foam in rage over here.  Think of this not so much as considered analysis (don’t think of it as all). Rather, it’s a very partial catalogue of how much damage decades of GOP anti-government, and worse, anti-society sabotage has done.  A goad, perhaps, though I hope no new one is needed, to crush these sorry f**ks come November, and forever after.

So here they come, in no particular order:

From Stat: “Drop in U.S. life expectancy is an indictment of the American health care system”

According to the CDC, the average life expectancy at birth in the U.S. fell by 0.1 years, to 78.6, in 2016, following a similar drop in 2015. This is the first time in 50 years that life expectancy has fallen for two years running. In 25 other developed countries, life expectancy in 2015 averaged 81.8 years.

The article acknowledges the impact of the opioid epidemic on those figures but notes that cross-country comparisons reveal systemic failures that make the disaster so much deeper here.  And then there’s the way we treat — or don’t — our elderly:

It is widely accepted that the accessibility and quality of medical services strongly affect life expectancy among the elderly and elderly Americans fall behind their counterparts overseas when it comes to being able to get and afford the health care they need.

This may seem surprising given that Americans over 65 enjoy universal health insurance coverage under Medicare. But as valuable as Medicare is, it provides far less protection against the cost of illness, and far less access to services, than do most other Western countries. In a recent cross-national survey, U.S. seniors were more likely to report having three or more chronic illnesses than their counterparts in 10 other high-income countries. At the same time, they were four times more likely than seniors in countries such as Norway and England to skip care because of costs. Medicare, it turns out, is not very good insurance compared to what’s available in most of the western world.

Next: that GOP assault on environmental regulation and protection?

Read more



Good News! A Win for the Environment (If We Can Keep It)

As many people pointed out, given the current economy, the oil industry was not exactly eager to start pouring money into starting the process to eventually build more offshore rigs that would inevitably draw politically explosive protests. Zinke’s Drill-Baby-Drill Statement was always intended as a slap against the blue states and their “disloyal” non-Repub voters. But getting him publicly pantsed was a win for our side, yes?…



Late Evening Open Thread: Florida Man and Woman in the Wake of Hurricane Irma Edition

It’s too late in the evening for another serious post, so here’s some Florida man and woman for you.

A Florida man and woman were arrested for stealing downed power lines after Hurricane Irma, according to officials.

Deputies were called to an Altamonte Springs neighborhood Sept. 16 after a neighbor said two people were cutting downed power lines on his property.

Deputies said the power lines were down after a pole snapped in half during Hurricane Irma.

The power was out and the neighborhood was dark, deputies said.

Deputies found $5,000 worth of power lines cut up in the back of a truck.

They questioned Charles Mahoy, 41, and Andrea Foster, 45, and found methamphetamine and marijuana in the truck, deputies said.

Mahoy and Foster were arrested on suspicion of larceny during a state of emergency, criminal mischief and drug possession.

Apparently it’s something of a crime epidemic:

Open thread!



How I Learned To Love Climate Modeling

I’m annoyed by the New York Times hire of Bret Stephens, more annoyed by the defense that Times editors are mounting on Twitter. I’m annoyed that this has to be said again, but here we are, as Times editors tell us that any criticism is merely trying to silence a conservative voice. My objections have nothing to do with Stephens’s political views, except that it is clear that those views drive his views of climate change.

I was once a climate skeptic, with a great deal more basis than Stephens’s sense that life is uncertain and therefore we should eat dessert first. My skepticism arose BECAUSE I knew something about the climate models. Read more



Guest Post From Cheryl Rofer: The Department of Energy, What Does it Do? 🤔

(Not Cheryl Rofer!)

Fails Dancing With The Stars, Wins Nuke Prize

by Cheryl Rofer

According to the New York Times, Rick Perry, former governor of Texas, presidential aspirant, and now Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Energy, um, didn’t know what the Department of Energy does when he accepted Trump’s nomination. “Sure I’ll be Ambassador for Oil and Gas,” he said. Twitter is meeting this revelation with humor and “We’re all going to die.”

In a better world, like the one we’ve been living in the past eight years, Cabinet secretaries actually know something about the organizations they are leading. It’s time to disrupt that fusty idea. We have Betsy DeVos, who wants to eliminate public education, as Education Secretary, a fast-food executive as Labor Secretary, and so on. Rick Perry has advocated eliminating the Department of Energy, so he was the natural pick.

Does that mean we are all going to die? That’s not so much the purview of the Energy Secretary. The President has a military guy who carries around the “football,” which is the most immediate starter of nuclear wars. As far as policy goes, the Secretaries of State and Defense have much more to say about starting wars nuclear and conventional. And, surprisingly for this administration, they actually seem to have responsible views on nuclear weapons. Here are excerpts from James Mattis’s and Rex Tillerson’s testimony to Congress. They are quite different from what Donald Trump has tweeted, and much more like the policies that Obama has followed.

Mattis almost says something that the arms control community has wanted to hear from the president:

the role of nuclear weapons is “[t]o deter nuclear war and to serve as last resort weapons of self-defense.”

Change that to

the only role of nuclear weapons is “[t]o deter nuclear war and to serve as last resort weapons of self-defense.”

and a lot of arms-controllers would be very happy.

The Secretary of Energy is in charge of building and maintaining nuclear weapons, so there is some concern about accidents and such, but fortunately it will not be Rick Perry handling the wrenches or working the gloveboxes. A big downside of someone like Perry is that there is no way he can play the role Ernie Moniz did in developing the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Now the question is how much influence Mattis and Tillerson will have on their boss.



Tuesday Evening Open Thread: Stay Watchful

The Geminids are the last meteor shower of 2016, and you should be able to catch them between December 12 and December 15. The peak of the shower will be late at night on December 13 and early in the morning of December 14.

You’ll see the most meteors at around 2 a.m. local time, when the meteors radiate from directly overhead. The supermoon will also be visible, and even though the bright moon will make it harder to see the meteors, the Geminids are large enough that you should still be able to catch the brightest shooting stars.

Anybody going to be out there watching for meteors tonight?

(Our attempt this summer to see the Leonids shower was a major #FAIL, which ended with us & three wired little dogs stuck in a six-hour pre-dawn traffic tie-up, so I’m not even gonna mention this to the Spousal Unit… )

Speaking of immense fusterclucks, here’s a small piece of good news from The Resistance:


.

Apart from scienterrific scienterrorism, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Open Thread: Trump’s Chosen Secretary-of-(Exxon)-State

From Ioffe’s Politico article:

It’s hard to imagine Tillerson publicly chiding Putin today because he is now so very dependent on that friendship. In 2011, he negotiated a multibillion-dollar deal between Exxon Mobil and Rosneft, the Russian state oil giant cobbled out of Khodorkovsky’s seized empire and run by Putin’s former KGB buddy, Igor Sechin. The deal would have allowed Exxon access to the Russian Arctic shelf—which, according to U.S. government estimates, is thought to contain some 22 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas deposits—in exchange for helping Rosneft, which didn’t have the technological capabilities, drill for the stuff.

In 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine, seized the Crimean peninsula and started an insurgency in Eastern Ukraine, triggering a wave of American and European sanctions. But that summer, Tillerson thought it best to stay away from the St. Petersburg Economic Forum and instead sent his deputy, who, acting on behalf of Exxon Mobil, signed another energy deal with Rosneft and Sechin, who had ended up under sanctions…

… Russia had become an international pariah, and its economy—to say nothing of its rule of law or judiciary—was in shambles, but Western companies were bowing and scraping before a man who had just shocked the world by violating international law. Tillerson was at the head of that line. Instead of using their deep ties to Russia—by this point, it is said Tillerson had become buddies with Sechin—to push the Kremlin on the “rule of law” that had so bothered Tillerson six years prior, Russia’s new friends pushed on the White House. Shortly before sending his emissary to St. Petersburg to sign the deal, Tillerson told reporters in Texas that he was lobbying Washington against sanctions…

The lesson of Putin’s 16-year tenure is a lesson that all businesspeople, foreign and domestic, have learned: To do business in Russia, you have to be on good, personal terms with Putin and Sechin. And you have to understand that those two gatekeepers to Russia’s riches are fickle and sadistic, and, as former KGB operatives, know little of real friendship. To do business in Russia—both for Exxon Mobil and for Tillerson’s own massive retirement fund, whose fortunes would rise significantly if a Trump White House lifted sanctions—you have to dance to Putin’s tune, and take whatever favors and humiliations he sends your way. Putin may act a friend and pin state medals on your breast, but he is, ultimately, a cynic. And to play ball with him, you have to be a cynic, too. Forget your honor, your rule of law, your independent judiciary, your human rights, your international law, and focus on the gold coins he throws to your feet. And forget looking dignified as you gather them up.


Read more