Reverse-Midas Open Thread: Adieu, Dr. Jackson

Had this post all written & scheduled, checked the twitters one last time before going to bed…


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Of course, Trump hasn’t got the guts to actually fire anybody, especially someone who might be tempted to admit on the record that maybe Lord Smallgloves’ physical status was not quite so magnificently godlike as is currently the pretense. Also, how long will it take to find a replacement who can juggle the Oval Office Occumpant’s Adderall / sedative dosages correctly? Politico‘s ‘Morning Playbook’:

… THE PRESIDENT’S NOMINEE to run the beleaguered VA has never managed more than a small cadre of people, and is now up for a job that involves managing the second-largest government agency, a department with 377,000 employees. He has also been accused of dishing out prescription drugs recklessly, allegedly passed out drunk at a hotel during a presidential trip, is said to have banged on a woman’s door after a night of drinking and allegedly crashed a government car after boozing at a Secret Service going-away party. Jackson has denied many of these allegations.

THE GENERAL CONSENSUS: Dr. Jackson will withdraw, which will give the president a chance to nominate a vetted candidate that the Hill can confirm. This is an election year. Republicans want the president to make things easy for them…

Given the information currently available, I kinda feel sorry for Dr. Jackson. He seems to be a perfectly competent mechanic for human machinery; Murphy the Trickster God knows that neither admirals, doctors, nor mechanics are generally famed for their temperance and humility. You might well trust your mechanic with your wallet, if not your life… but you wouldn’t necessarily propose he be promoted to CEO of General Motors. Or Microsoft.

But that’s the problem: Everyone Trump touches ends up the worse for it!


 
It would be funnier if there weren’t so much hanging on the resolution of this issue…



Upbeat Open Thread: Why We Fight

For our lives, the lives of our loved ones, and those of strangers we’ll never meet. Because it’s the right thing to do, of course. But also, to WIN!

Jim Newell at Slate:

Costello, a 41-year-old serving in only his second term, announced over the weekend that he will not run for re-election. What would have been a challenging race became near-impossible when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court redrew the state’s congressional lines, turning the state’s 6th Congressional District from an R+2 to a D+2 seat, and one that Hillary Clinton would have won by 10 percentage points in the 2016 election. Costello has called for the Pennsylvania judges behind the new map to be impeached.

Costello described the health care fight as the most “intense” experience of his brief political career, “period.” He remembered being one of the 15 or so members who would decide the fate of the House GOP health care bill and “getting it from all angles.” (He voted against it.) When you’re serving in a swing district in this environment, he said, “you have to know every single issue, and why you’re voting the way that you are, and to be able to explain it. Because you will get asked about it by everyone.”

“The way that these bots work”—“B-O-T-S,” he spelled it out to me, presumably referring to those deluging him with talking points—“and these Indivisible people, it’s not like they think for themself, they’re just told what to say,” he said. “They’ll take what some other expert told them to say, like Topher Spiro, or whatever that guy’s name is.” That is indeed the name of the excitable Center for American Progress policy fellow who built up quite the Twitter presence during the health care fight by imploring his followers to flood congressional phone lines.

“It’s not as though the criticisms or questions are illegitimate, but you are on the spot for answering them,” Costello said. “And so you have to be very well-prepared, and you just have to accept that no matter what you say, it’s not going to be good enough, the next criticism’s going to come at you. Which is fine.”…

“People in any district, but especially in [suburban] districts, they want to know that their member of Congress is looking out for them, not for any particular party,” he said. “It could be trying to get EPA funding for the remediation site, it could be a public transportation project. It could be forcefully fighting for DACA, or pushing back against getting out of the Paris accord. Or trying to stabilize the health insurance marketplace.” …

These ‘bots’, or constituents — whatever — they want me to act like I represent THEM! They aren’t content that I’ve learned all my lines and made a very good on-camera presentation, they want me to WORK, not just ACT! It’s as though I was being paid to represent… them!

No wonder the poor bastid looks so stunned; he feels his efforts have somehow been misrepresented.



PA Open Thread: Sow the Windbag, Reap the Fartcloud

Of course, the Repubs prefer to blame… well, anything other than the obvious:


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Actions Have Consequences, Plague Prevention Edition

After all, despite all those hand-wringing news stories, nobody American actually died in that potential Ebola pandemic, so why should we waste any more money that Paul Ryan assures us could better go to tax cuts for billionaires? Let Trump’s big, beautiful wall protect us from foreign viruses! Ed Yong, in the Atlantic:

In December 2014, Congress appropriated $5.4 billion to fight the historic Ebola epidemic that was raging in West Africa. Most of that money went to quashing the epidemic directly, but around $1 billion was allocated to help developing countries improve their ability to detect and respond to infectious diseases. The logic is sound: It is far more efficient to invest money in helping countries contain diseases at the source, than to risk small outbreaks flaring up into large international disasters.

But the $1 billion pot, which was mostly divided between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and USAID, runs out in 2019—a fiscal cliff with disaster at its foot. As I wrote:

That money has been used well, to train epidemiologists, buy equipment, upgrade labs, and stockpile drugs. If it disappears, progress will halt, and potentially reverse. The CDC, for example, would have to pull back 80 percent of its staff in 35 countries, breaking ties with local ministries of health.

This is now coming to pass. Two weeks ago, Betsy McKay at The Wall Street Journal reported that the CDC, with no firm promise of future funding, is indeed preparing to downsize its work in 39 countries. Those include the Democratic Republic of Congo, which recently experienced its eighth Ebola outbreak, and China, which is recently underwent its worst outbreak of H7N9 bird flu. Lena Sun of The Washington Post confirmed this report on Thursday, writing that “notice is being given now to CDC country directors” as the first part of a transition.

The CDC is not the only affected agency. USAID also received $300 million from the same dwindling pot of money, which it used to expand its work in the Middle East and Asia. Those programs may also have to shut down in 2019.

These changes would make the world—and the United States—more vulnerable to a pandemic. “We’ll leave the field open to microbes,” says Tom Frieden, a former CDC director who now heads an initiative called Resolve to Save Lives. “The surveillance systems will die, so we won’t know if something happens. The lab networks won’t be built, so if something happens, we won’t know what it is. We can’t be safe if the world isn’t safe. You can’t pull up the drawbridge and expect viruses not to travel.”…

But we know, from their statements during the 2014, that certain high-ranking Republicans are damned well determined to try.



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?

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Open Thread: Readership Capture

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Insert your own jokes about those Trump administration members who don’t expect to end up serving prison sentences:

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And finally, a well-considered opinion on Trump’s health issues:



Thursday Morning Open Thread: Snippits

So much news, you’ll get tired of all the news!

Apart from preparing the Throw the Bums Out, what’s on the agenda for the day?