See Ya In Court, Jackass

Or probably not, as this will quickly get thrown out:

A Republican coal baron is suing John Oliver, HBO, Time Warner, and the writers for Oliver’s show over the most recent episode of Last Week Tonight.

The suit, filed on June 21 in the circuit court of Marshall County, West Virginia, holds that Oliver and his team “executed a meticulously planned attempt to assassinate the character of and reputation of Mr. Robert E. Murray and his companies” by airing an episode that ripped into him. Murray runs the country’s largest privately owned coal company, Murray Energy Corporation.

“They did this to a man who needs a lung transplant, a man who does not expect to live to see the end of this case,” reads the complaint, which also lists Murray’s companies as plaintiffs.

The lawsuit isn’t a surprise to Oliver. In fact, the British comic said on the episode of his show that aired on June 18 that he expected it, noting that Murray has sued several other media outlets in the past (including, in May, the New York Times). In the episode, Oliver criticized Murray’s business practices, saying he doesn’t do enough to protect his miners’ safety. Oliver also noted that his team contacted Murray’s company before the episode aired, and that the company sent a cease-and-desist letter––the first time that had ever happened to his show.

In the interest of full disclosure so Mr. Murray will not sue me and because I am a big fan of the Streisand effect, here is the entire Last Week Tonight piece:

Screw Murray.

Super Rich White Lady Not Upset She Helped Elect Trump

Fuck Jill Stein:

Stein is not losing any sleep over what might have been—in her telling, Clinton wouldn’t have been much better. “There are differences between Clinton and Trump, no doubt, but they’re not different enough to save your life, to save your job, to save the planet,” she says. “We deserve more than two lethal choices.”

I say again, fuck Jill Stein.

“It’s SO AWESOME We Want to Keep it a Surprise- It’s Gonna be Yuuuge!”

This is insane:

Senate Republicans are working to finish their draft health care bill, but have no plans to publicly release it, according to two senior Senate GOP aides.

“We aren’t stupid,” said one of the aides. One issue is that Senate Republicans plan to keep talking about it after the draft is done: “We are still in discussions about what will be in the final product so it is premature to release any draft absent further member conversations and consensus.”

Why it matters: Democratic senators are already slamming Republicans for the secrecy of their bill writing process, and this isn’t going to help. Republicans are sure to release the bill at some point, but it’s unclear when — and they want to vote on it in the next three weeks, before the July 4 recess.
What to watch

What to watch: When the bill is finished, it’ll be sent to the Congressional Budget Office. It’ll take CBO about two weeks to evaluate and score a draft bill. Senate Republicans then want to vote on the bill before the July 4th recess. The draft bill had been expected to be finished tonight, but aides say the timing has slipped.

This is just not how this is supposed to work, and there are so many things about this that it just leaves you wondering how fucking evil these people are. Obviously, there is the hypocrisy. We’re all old enough to remember all the way back to 2008-2011 with every Republican and all their tea party brownshits in tricorne hats screaming about Obama care being rammed down their throats, when it took several years, went through multiple committess, was scored incessantly, etc., ad nauseum, all right there out in the open. It was bullshit then, but it is the reality now.

Second, this is not how the legislative process is supposed to work. It would be arrogant and wrong to do something like that if you had a super majority of 66 Senators, but it would be nowhere near as breathtaking as what they are trying to do now. Not to mention, this will fundamentally break the Senate for years to come- this is the poison pill. There’s no coming back from this- centrism is dead, and we are working from different realities now. This is not only a declaration of war on the American people, but on the entire legislative process. If you think things are bad now, this is going to make things much worse.

Third, and probably most important, if you are working on a health care bill, it should not be controversial to note that your bill’s primary focus should focused on improving health care. I’ve seen no evidence to date that improving health care is even a quinary or senary concern. There’s repealing Obamacare. There’s getting a good CBO score. There’s freeing up money to hand it out to the rich. There’s appeasing your buddies in the insurance and pharmaceutical sectors. And there’s giving Trump a win.

But nothing about how this is going to make the country more healthy and productive, or help hold down our astronomical health care costs, (as we pay more in the world than ANYONE else and don’t even get results as good), or help stop medical bankruptcies, or help small businesses grow, or just give the fucking citizenry the peace of mind in knowing that if something goes wrong with their health they aren’t just fucking abandoned to die.

Make no mistake, it is NOT hyperbole to state that the Republican bill is going to kill people. People will die because their coverage will be yanked and they will not get the treatment they need. People will die because they are not able to get coverage. People will die because their coverage will stop because they hit a life time limit. People will die because doctors will no longer provide services in areas with poor populations without the guarantee of federal (in one form or another) reimbursement.

But another way this is going to kill people is through the impact this is going to have on mental health. Much was said about the Princeton study several months ago noting the large spike in the mortality rate for the white working class (and it goes without saying that any negative trend for white people is indubitably already in existence for minorities- whites are just “catching up,” if you will), and it appears the Republican response is “Hold my beer.”

This bill is going to devastate communities already saddled with an opiod epidemic, chronic joblessness and underemployment, a diabetes epidemic, food deserts, and more guns and mental health issues than you can even imagine. This will be like throwing TNT into a five alarm fire. It’s horrifying to think about.

All of these things are related. None of this shit happens in a vacuum. It’s like the old Chris Rock routine about “selling drugs.” You don’t have to sell drugs. Drugs sell themselves. The drug warriors have never ever figured out that drug addiction isn’t solely a product of a flawed character- people do drugs because they make them feel good. When your life is utter shit and you are living in a 30 year old doublewide that leaks, has torn plastic for windows, you haven’t had a job since the mine closed down and even then you couldn’t work because you have chronic back pain, a 12 pack of Milwaukee’s Best and a couple oxys if you can get ’em but you probably can ‘t afford ’em so why not shoot a little heroin. It can’t all be laced with fentanyl. And if it is, well, could death be worse than this?

Again, it’s just horrifying to think about. The mental stress from the financial aspects of this is going to feed into the pre-existing mess of mental health issues, drug addiction, alcoholism. It’s going to wreck families and marriages. It’s going to leave several generations of kids who grow up in this shit scarred for life and probably doomed to repeat it.

And all for a few more bucks for people who have so much money they don’t know what to do with it anyway. It makes me fucking sick, and it makes me livid. I’m punching the goddamned keyboard as I write this. Fucking evil motherfuckers.

Donald Trump, Nuclear Negotiator


One of Donald Trump’s few consistencies has been his admiration of Vladimir Putin and his unwillingness to criticize Russia. Many of his other actions, like his refusal to explicitly support NATO’s Article 5, seem to be consistent with a Kremlin line.

The big question is why. From the information publicly available, this theme seems to have surfaced around the time of his trip to Russia in 1987. That was an interesting time for Russia, too. Read more

He’ll Just Have to Remain Elf-Employed

It ain’t Christmas, but this is a nice little gift to the nation:

On Wednesday evening, George T. Conway III — leading litigator, longtime partner at Wachtell Lipton, and husband of Kellyanne Conway, senior adviser to President Donald Trump — sent a letter to the White House withdrawing from consideration to lead the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. Conway, also a finalist for the post of U.S. Solicitor General, emerged as the presumptive pick for assistant attorney general of the Civil Division back in March.

Conway shared news of his withdrawal with friends and colleagues earlier this week.

He’s allegedly not taking the job to spend more time with his family, which is always bullshit, and especially the case considering he is married to Kellyanne Conway (apparently because Laura Ingraham wouldn’t marry him).

At any rate, Conway is one of the miserable fucking impeachment elves who basically played a major role in sending this country down the shitter. Read the whole thing, as they say.

This is a good thing.

The Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing

While we focus on the various obvious bathetic catastrophes (from blowing secrets to the Russians to the big man’s collapsing in a heap after a mere one day on the road) committed by the shitgibbon and his band of merry (but never gay — oh no! not that) men, it’s important to keep at least some attention on the rolling, very real damage the Trump administration wreaks on a daily basis.

I’m so far behind on a book project that I can’t really keep up, and I certainly can’t blog with anything remotely resembling depth and insight, so I’m going to try instead to throw up quick posts as various bits of policy news cross my magpie’s field of vision.

This morning’s treat comes via a Saturday story in FTFNYT.*  Under Scott Pruitt, it seems, the EPA has become the Captain Renault of environmental regulators: everything has its price, and the Captain is always eager to make a deal:

Devon Energy, which runs the windswept site, had been prepared to install a sophisticated system to detect and reduce leaks of dangerous gases. It had also discussed paying a six-figure penalty to settle claims by the Obama administration that it was illegally emitting 80 tons each year of hazardous chemicals, like benzene, a known carcinogen.

But something changed in February just five days after Scott Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general with close ties to Devon, was sworn in as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Devon, in a letter dated Feb. 22 and obtained by The New York Times, said it was “re-evaluating its settlement posture.” It no longer intended to move ahead with the extensive emissions-control system, second-guessing the E.P.A.’s estimates on the size of the violation, and it was now willing to pay closer to $25,000 to end the three-year-old federal investigation.

The administration’s response?

The E.P.A. has not yet made a public response to Devon’s new posture, and Mr. Pruitt declined to comment for this article.

Want to bet on how it will turn out?

In just the last three months, with Mr. Pruitt in charge, the E.P.A. postponed a long-planned rule requiring companies like Devon to retrofit drilling equipment to prevent leaks of methane gas — a major contributor to climate change — and to collect more data on how much of the gas is spewing into the air.

The Interior Department, meanwhile, announced this month that it would reconsider a separate rule limiting the burning of unwanted methane gas from wells drilled on federal and Indian lands, a process called flaring. That announcement came the same day the Senate narrowly rejected industry calls to repeal the same rule.

Interior officials have also announced their intention to repeal or revise a contentious rule requiring companies like Devon to take extra steps to prevent groundwater contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, a drilling technique in which chemicals and water are forced into rock formations.

You get the idea. Pruitt has a history of working with Devon Energy; the administration has both a pro-extractive industry bias and powerful faction and the always reliable motive of f**king with anything that Obama accomplished.  Some of what the shitgibbon’s people aim to do can, no doubt, be delayed, obstructed, tied up.  Much, perhaps most will go through, at least over the next year or so, up until the pressures of the next election begin to bite.

So:  constant vigilance and trust no Republican. They’ll load up anything they can on anything they can, transferring public goods (clean air, clean water, anything not nailed down) to private hands.

Over to y’all.

*Publication of such stories  is why I continue to subscribe. Their political desk is…dodgy…but they still field more fine reporters than just about anywhere else I can think of. YM, as always, MV.

Image: Elihu Vedder, Corrupt Legislation, mural in the Library of Congress, 1896.

Your 2018 Voting Guide

When you go to the polls in the fall of 2018, if your incumbent is a Republican congressmen, here is what you now know what they do and don’t care about:

1.) They don’t actually care about reading a bill:

Hours before a scheduled vote on a Republican bill that would repeal and replace major parts of Obamacare, a GOP congressman suggested that neither he — nor anyone else — has actually read the entire bill.

But Rep. Thomas Garrett of Virginia said his “staff” had read all of the parts of the bill — which he plans to vote for.

“Oh, gosh,” Garrett said on MSNBC on Thursday morning when asked if he has read the entire text of the GOP’s American Health Care Act.

“Let’s put it this way: People in my office have read all parts of the bill.”

“I don’t think any individual has read the whole bill,” Garrett said. “That’s why we have staff.”

That “read the bill” bullshit is for when there is a blah President and a Democratic majority.

2.) They don’t care about what is actually IN the bill or what it will do. Quite simply, they don’t know what is in the bill they just voted for:

In March 2010, in the hours before the final vote to pass Obamacare, John Boehner, then the top Republican in the House, gave a fiery speech denouncing not only the soon-to-be-law, but the process that had led to the vote.

“Look at how this bill was written,” he said. “Can you say it was done openly? With transparency and accountability? Without backroom deals struck behind closed doors hidden from the people? Hell no you can’t.”

All of these questions could now be asked of the GOP’s bill to rewrite Obamacare. And the answer to every one of them would be the same as the one Boehner gave seven years ago: Hell no.

Republicans are preparing to vote on a health care bill today that is even less transparent and accountable than Obamacare, on a rushed vote that was negotiated almost entirely via backroom deals.

The House is expected to vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), sometime today. But Republicans, by their own accounts, have no idea what it will do.

The bill itself was only finalized last night, with the addition of an amendment by Fred Upton that would provide an additional $8 billion to fund state high risk pools.


3.) They don’t care about people with pre-existing conditions or the elderly.

4.) They don’t care about the opiod crisis.

5.) They sure as fuck do not care about the budget or the deficit, since the last version of the bill was a budget buster and this one doesn’t even have a CBO score.

On the other hand, they do care about their donors, and they do care about themselves. Their health care will remain gold plated.

You should plan to vote accordingly.