Politics

The impact of policy

Balloon Juice - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 07:26

The Society of Actuaries went through the Health Care Cost Institute data recently and produced an amazing graphic:

This graph shows the number of inpatient days per 1,000 covered life years.

It shows a few things. First, small group and large group utilization tend to move in parallel to each other with large groups having slightly sicker or higher utilizing populations. This makes sense as small groups are less likely to offer insurance and that offer or not offer decision is non-random; a small group will avoid offering insurance if they know they are extremely likely to have horrendous premiums due to very high expected utilization. People in the job market know that as well so someone who knows that they are likely to be in the hospital a lot will try to stick with a large group employer.

The far more interesting thing is that the discontinuity in the individual market. Pre-ACA market reforms of guaranteed issue, community rating and subsidization, the individual market had perhaps a third of the hospitalization rate of large group and forty percent the utilization rate of small group. As soon as the ACA market reforms went into effect on January 1, 2014, utilization sky rocketed.

This shows the effect of underwriting. Underwritten policies from 2009-2013 were pretty good at identifying and avoiding people with predictable healthcare costs. There is still hospitalizations of people getting hit by buses and being told that they have cancer during a routine check-up but these are mostly random events. As soon as explicit underwriting is banned, utilization sky rockets as people who had been kept out of the individual market moved into it and got services that they needed.

Categories: Politics

Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 AM ET!

Daily Kos - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 07:00

At this point, I often end the show with the “prediction” that things will get noticeably worse before we get back on the air the next day.

But this time, it wouldn’t really have been fair as a prediction, since there was a Trump rally scheduled for the evening.

Also, I don’t really remember whether I made such a “prediction” yesterday, or not. All the days are running together now, to be honest. So, welcome to this… uh… 24-hour time increment. Let’s get started.

Listen right here at 9:00 AM ET!

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Nothing changes on our end. It’s still Greg Dworkin, Joan McCarter, and even Armando. Plus also, me. And you! As always, we still want your voice on the air with us. Sit down with your smart phone or other electronic recording device and send us your stories and commentary to share with the audience. There’s no easier way to try your hand at podcasting, without all the hassle!

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For now, how about one on the house? Here’s what we did on our last show:

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No one can tell Donald Trump what he can and can not do with his shampoo bottle! Hmm… and while we wait for the right wing videos pwning us on that one, David Waldman and Greg Dworkin bring us the latest news: Donald Trump is now officially a racist, and the ruling is officially bipartisan. As the House arrived at that decision, Representative Emmanuel Cleaver officially declared “can’t even” on the House floor. It seems that Republicans really hate racism...the word “racism”. Democrats still have half of the dictionary to work with. LOL YOLO NM… Wait, David explains that someone actually followed precedent here. The Trump presidential campaign hopes to win where they won, and Donald certainly looks to have locked up the deplorable vote for 2020. In fact, he might have captured it for generations. The rest of America agrees that Trump supporters should just go back where they came from. It’s now down to “old white guy” vs. “smart woman lawyer” for the hearts and minds of Democrats. Don’t turn to bloggers for your answers, everyone knows no one blogs anymore. Measured in geologic time, Democratic investigations into Trump have moved relatively quickly. The administration agreed to be permanently barred from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. (And still haven’t, as of this posting) A US District Judge keeps lowering the bar on Roger Stone, and he keeps limboing under. Newly found footage of Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein at a 1992 party raises the question of how a feeble dork like this could find his way to any legitimate sex, ever. Former Trump Aide Jason Miller has been to all of the prostitutes and massage parlors, but is still too much the gentleman to say if he saw the boss there.

Thanks to Scott Anderson for the show summary! Please help me pay him more! Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.
Categories: Politics

Thursday Morning Open Thread: Back to the Arena

Balloon Juice - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 05:30

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)
.

I guess if Rep. Lewis can keep fighting, so can we… even if the well-intentioned members of the DNC seem to be trying to kill me:

And then, if I had my way, the members of the B Ark Tier One would be locked in a nicely stocked hotel annex until mid-November 2020. (Sorry, Sen. Gillibrand.) But nobody ever takes my advice, possibly because they’re afraid of insufficiently sanitized telephones.

It’s not as though this rigamarole is making anyone but the ad salesguys and the Media Horse Race Touts happy. (Seth Moulton, predictably, is making a very public fuss already.)

I hope to Murphy the Trickster God that the Inslee campaign was being sarcastic.

Categories: Politics

On the Road and In Your Backyard

Balloon Juice - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 05:00

Good Morning All,

As we move closer to the new site launch, I wanted to remind you to submit things now via the form or to hold off until the new site is live.  The old email address is dead and until the new site is live, there’s no replacement for now. I hope to change that later today.

Ok, it looks like my concern about the new site launching very soon is a bit off, sounds like it will be a week or more, not days. I’ve got some submissions, but please do continue to submit pictures, we’re getting closer.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

 

Today, pictures from valued commenter Origuy.

In August 2018, I went to the North American Orienteering Championships in Whitehorse, YK. I’d torn my knee in May and was still recovering from surgery, but I’d booked the trip and didn’t want to cancel. Since my club is hosting the NAOC in Tahoe in 2020, I also wanted to see how the Canadians were doing it and meet some of the organizers.
Whitehorse is the only city in the Yukon Territory. It was a stopping point on the way to the Klondike gold fields, because the rapids on the Yukon River hindered travel.

Taken on 2019-06-23 00:00:00

Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada

The rapids on the river gave the town its name, as the whitewater gave the prospectors the idea of white horses stampeding. Eventually, the river was cleared of rocks to allow passage.

Taken on 2018-08-23 00:00:00

Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada

This is the Klondike II, which ran from Whitehorse to Dawson City from 1937-1955. It doesn’t go anywhere now, but it’s been restored as a tourist attraction and a national historic site.

Taken on 2018-08-23 00:00:00

Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada

I love the First Nations art that you find all over the Pacific Northwest.

Taken on 2018-08-24 00:00:00

Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada

This artwork hangs in the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre. It commemorates the indigenous women who are missing or murdered in the territory. The woman’s dress is made of of moccasin tops sewn and beaded by the women of the community.
Dozens of women have gone missing or been found murdered in the west of Canada and Alaska. Highway 16 in northern British Columbia has been called the Highway of Tears.

Taken on 2018-08-24 00:00:00

Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada

I stayed in Whitehorse with a very nice couple who had an AirBNB apartment in their basement. It was right downtown and close to where the shuttles for the orienteering events picked up. On my last night, my host drove me to the top of Grey Mountain to see the sunset.

 

Thank you so much Origuy, do send us more when you can.

 

Travel safely everybody, and do share some stories in the comments, even if you’re joining the conversation late. Many folks confide that they go back and read old threads, one reason these are available on the Quick Links menu.

 

One again, to submit pictures: Use the Form

Categories: Politics

Trump Hits a New Low . . . Again

Kevin Drum - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 01:25

Were tonight’s Trump-led chants of “send her back” at a rally in North Carolina a new low for our president? Sure, probably. But Trump hits a “new low” about once every month or so. As a public service and a walk down memory lane, here’s a very non-exhaustive list of things that have been called new lows for Trump over the past few years. Enjoy.

2015

July 20: Attacks John McCain for being a POW.

November 13: Compares Ben Carson to child molester.

November 21: Proposes Muslim registry.

November 23: Retweets claim that 81 percent of white people are killed by blacks.

November 26: Mocks a reporter’s disability.

December 8: Calls for ban on Muslim entry.

2016

March 8: Defends his penis size in nationally televised debate.

March 23: Attacks Ted Cruz’s wife.

March 30: Says that women who get abortions should be punished.

May 3: Suggests that Ted Cruz’s father killed JFK.

June 3: Attacks federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel.

July 27: Asks Russia to please find and release Hillary Clinton’s 30,000 emails.

August 1: Says that Khizr Khan had “sacrificed nothing and no one.”

August 10: Suggests his supporters might want to shoot Hillary Clinton.

October 8: “Grab ’em by the pussy” tape.

October 12: More women accuse Trump of sexual assault.

October 19: Invites President Obama’s estranged half-brother to final debate.

2017

February 22: Attacks transgender children.

March 4: Accuses Obama of tapping his wires.

June 29: Accuses Mika Brzezinski of “bleeding badly from a face-lift” during a New Year’s party.

July 2: Retweets video of CNN being attacked.

August 15: Suggests that there were “very fine people on both sides” at Charlottesville.

September 30: Attacks mayor of San Juan after Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico.

October 13: Ends Obamacare cost-sharing program.

November 29: Retweets three anti-Muslim videos from the leader of an extremist British group.

2018

January 12: Shithole countries.

June 8: Begins separating children from their parents at the border.

July 5: Insists on meeting with Vladimir Putin with no one else present.

September 13: Says the 3,000 dead from Hurricane Maria is “fake news” invented by Democrats.

October 18: After murder of Jamal Khashoggi, reminds everyone that Saudi Arabia is a good customer.

October 19: Calls Stormy Daniels “horseface.”

October 19: Applauds Rep. Greg Gianforte’s body slam of a reporter.

November 1: Runs racist ad just before midterm elections.

November 7: Suspends CNN reporter Jim Acosta.

November 12: As wildfires are raging, threatens to cut off federal aid to California unless they change their “forest management” practices.

December 29: Says any deaths of children along the border are strictly the fault of the Democrats.

2019

February 9: Mocks native American genocide.

March 8: Accuses Democrats of being the “anti-Jewish party.”

March 20: Attacks John McCain yet again.

May 24: Retweets doctored video of Nancy Pelosi.

July 11: Attacks British prime minister Theresa May.

July 14: Tells Democratic congresswomen to go back where they came from.

Categories: Politics

Washington Monument Celebrates Apollo 11's 50th Anniversary

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 23:30
Washington Monument Celebrates Apollo 11's 50th Anniversary

This is pretty great: ‘Once-in-a-lifetime’ light show on Washington Monument to mark Apollo 11. The celebration includes projecting an image of the Saturn V rocket on the Washington Monument.

Saturday will be the 50th anniversary of the successful completion of the Apollo 11 mission. Once upon a time, folks, we did big things and had big dreams. We might again someday. Just not today.

Republished with permission from Mock Paper Scissors; open thread below...


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Categories: Politics

C&L's Late Nite Music Club With Magnetic Fields

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 23:01

(Credit: Amazon.com (link below))

The annual summer parade happened tonight in the small town I live in. Of course, I was there. Gotta show some of that hometown pride, ya know.

In 1999, the Magnetic Fields released a triple ablum called 69 Love Songs. One of those songs watches a parade pass. What are you listening to tonight?


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Categories: Politics

Open thread for night owls: Epstein case shows importance or (dwindling) local news reporting

Daily Kos - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 23:00

Eric Alterman at The Nation writes—If Jeffrey Epstein Faces Justice, It’ll Be Thanks to a Local NewspaperThe decline of regional news will lead to a golden age of corruption:

The hero of this unhappy saga, aside from the brave women who came forward with their stories of abuse and intimidation, is the Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown, who stuck with this story for two years, winning the confidence of the women and exposing the shocking sweetheart deal that Epstein’s lawyers cut with then-federal prosecutor Alex Acosta as well as the attempt by the office of Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., to reduce Epstein’s sex-offender status.

owls

Brown’s doggedness is even more impressive for its relative rarity. I’ve written here recently about the dangers our democracy faces from the hollowing out of almost every local newspaper in America. Not even Miami, a big, cosmopolitan, coastal city, is immune to this trend. Its parent company, McClatchy, laid off 425 people in 2008–09 alone. Everybody else took pay cuts. Since then, according to a 2018 Columbia Journalism Review profile, the paper has lost many senior reporters and editors not only to The New York Times and The Washington Post as has always been the case, but also to small startups, nonprofits, and the ever-lurking PR firms. Massive increases in web traffic will never make up for lost print advertising and paper subscriptions, and the result is the disappearance of the thing that makes the paper valuable in the first place: news.

Since the layoffs, the Herald has moved toward what it terms an “audience engagement” model, meaning it is trying to figure out what people want to read and then allow that agenda to drive its articles. That might explain why the (remaining) newsroom erupted in cheers when Brown’s Epstein expose displaced a story about farts on its “most read” standings. Human-interest stories have always been part of the menu of any news publication, but the danger today is that clickbait strangles the news people need to know. CJR reports that a journalist named Lance Dixon left that paper last year after having been assigned to cover local government in North Miami and Coral Gables, which have little in common and are nowhere near one each other. Following his departure, his beat was dropped, and a single Herald reporter was assigned responsibility for 30 towns and cities. Imagine how much local news those residents are getting. And perhaps more significantly, imagine how much fun it must be to be a corrupt official in one of those places without a watchdog keeping an eye on the people’s tax money.

According to the Pew Research Center, America’s newspapers lost 47 percent of newsroom employees between 2008 and 2018 and now Bloomberg’s Gerry Smith tells us that the level of attrition in the news business regardless of platform had its worst quarter since 2009 (with a booming economy and stock market, it must be added). [...]

TOP COMMENTSHIGH IMPACT STORIES

QUOTATION

“Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: 'You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgements. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.” 
               ~~Doris LessingThe Golden Notebook (1962)

TWEET OF THE DAY

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BLAST FROM THE PAST

On this date at Daily Kos in 2005Unprepared for a Flu Pandemic:

If a much-feared pandemic of avian influenza starts sweeping through the world's population anytime soon, neither the United States nor international health authorities will be prepared to cope with it. There is not enough vaccine or antiviral medicine available to protect more than a handful of people, and no industrial capacity to produce a lot more of these medicines quickly.

And they're right. We are horribly unprepared locally, nationally and throughout the world. Part of the issue is how we communicate the need. This article, written for WHO, tries to get at how to talk to folks to address the issues.

Public health officials have a pandemic-size communication problem. Experts believe a deadly influenza pandemic is quite likely to be launched by the H5N1 avian virus that has killed millions of birds and dozens of people in Asia. They are more anxious than they have been in decades. But infectious diseases are unpredictable. H5N1 could disappear--as swine flu did in 1976--and "The Great Pandemic of 2___" could arise from a strain that doesn't even exist yet. Even if H5N1 does cause a human pandemic, it might weaken and produce only mild disease. So it's hard for officials to know how aggressively to sound the alarm. They don't want to be accused of needlessly frightening the public. They also don't want to be accused—later—of leaving the public underprepared for a disaster.

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On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Procedure Man to the rescue! We explain "words taken down" and other rules strategery. Greg Dworkin manages to sneak some polling in, despite all the excitement. Why oversight is so… damn… slow. Roger Stone silenced! Video of Trump being creepy! x Embedded Content

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Categories: Politics

Seth Meyers: Republicans Pretend They Haven't Seen Trump's Racist Tweets [VIDEO]

Little Green Footballs - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 22:31

Seth takes a closer look at the president and GOP leaders insisting that Trump’s latest racist comments are not, in fact, racist despite the fact that they are definitely super racist!

Categories: Politics

Respite Open Thread

Balloon Juice - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 21:44

This week has been unsettled for me. I’m getting new kitchen countertops and sink and cooktop. I planned ahead and have plenty of stuff in the refrigerator that can be eaten on paper plates with plastic utensils. Which is a good thing because, surprise, things are not entirely going as planned.

The plan was that the plumber would unhook everything on Monday. The installers would install on Tuesday. And the plumber would hook stuff up again today.

But the order for the faucet got bollixed up. And part of the backsplash still needed to be cut and finished.

With any luck, the faucet will arrive tomorrow, the installers will install the backsplash, and the plumber will finish hooking stuff up. Right now, everything but the sink is working, and the drawer under the cooktop needs to be cut down a bit.

Yesterday was traumatic for the kitties. They were locked in the bedroom because people were carrying heavy pieces of stone around with the doors open. The kitties are getting over it today. And tomorrow everything should be back to normal.

Here are Zooey (left) and Ric (right) being relaxed.

Categories: Politics

Trump officials lied to the court about census citizenship question; ACLU now seeks sanctions

Daily Kos - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 21:10

Now that the Trump administration's efforts to place a citizenship question on the 2020 census have been shot down by the courts—due to widespread lying by Trump officials about the intentions of their effort—the ACLU wants to see officials who lied to the court receive stiff sanctions for those acts. On Tuesday evening, the group filed a request that it be given 60 days of discovery powers in order to "determine the scope of potentially sanctionable conduct."

The short version? The ACLU says multiple Trump administration officials in the Departments of Justice and Commerce lied to the court about their own actions, and that several at least appear to have withheld relevant internal documents about the case.

"This Court has before it irrefutable evidence that Defendants—led by senior officials
and agents of the Commerce Department, including Mark Neuman, Earl Comstock, Peter
Davidson, James Uthmeier, and Christa Jones—knowingly, and repeatedly, engaged in litigation
conduct that is nothing less than a fraud on the Court," the ACLU writes. "Defendants and their senior officials concealed facts about the case's central issues through a concerted campaign of delay and obfuscation. [...] Defendants steadfastly denied that Secretary Ross' decision to add a citizenship question to the census harbored discriminatory motives, or that the decision had anything to do with curbing the political power of minority immigrant communities through redistricting." The court now knows, from multiple other points of evidence, that this was a lie.

That five separate Trump officials misled the court suggests a coordinated effort on the part of the government to mislead the federal judge responsible for the case. And the ACLU notes that the involvement of senior government officials makes it "of utmost importance" that they be brought to account for those attempts.

That the government lied to the courts in defending the administration's census fiddling is no longer in doubt; even the Supreme Court acknowledged as much. Now it is up to the judge to determine what sanctions to hand down for that conduct, and against whom. Given the fury with which federal judges typically respond to fraudulent testimony in their courtrooms, the ACLU's request that it be given additional discovery to sort out the origins and extent of those lies seems likely to be granted.

Categories: Politics

House Votes To Hold Barr And Ross In Contempt

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 21:02
House Votes To Hold Barr And Ross In Contempt

The House of Representatives held the promised vote today to hold Attorney General William Barr, and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in Contempt of Congress. The two cabinet members refused to comply with subpoenas to come before the House committees regarding a citizenship question on the 2020 census, and today, the House voted to hold them in Contempt. The final vote was 230-198 in favor of holding them both in Contempt of Congress.

From The Washington Post:

After a string of legal defeats, Trump last week abruptly retreated from his efforts to add the question to the census, announcing that he will instead order federal agencies to provide the Commerce Department with records on the numbers of citizens and noncitizens in the country.

read more

Categories: Politics

Jon Stewart Rips 'Bottom Feeder' Rand Paul For Blocking 9-11 First Responder Funding

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 20:25

Jon Stewart wasted no time letting the world know how he felt about Rand Paul's cynical block of the 9-11 first responders' funding bill this afternoon.

“Pardon me if I’m not impressed in any way by Rand Paul’s fiscal responsibility virtue signaling," a furious Jon Stewart told Fox News anchor Brett Baier earlier today after hearing the news of Senator Paul's hypocrisy.

“Bret, this is about what kind of society we have,” a clearly furious Stewart declared. “At some point, we have to stand up for the people who have always stood up for us, and at this moment in time maybe cannot stand up for themselves due to their illnesses and their injuries. And what Rand Paul did today on the floor of the Senate was outrageous.”

“He is a guy who put us in hundreds of billions of dollars in debt,” he said, referring to Paul's vote to approve the Trump tax scam which took money out of the pockets of the middle class and poor to give to corporations and billionaires.

“And now he’s going to tell us that a billion dollars a year over 10 years is just too much for us to handle?" he continued. "You know, there are some things that they have no trouble putting on the credit card, but somehow when it comes to the 9/11 first responder community—the cops, the firefighters, the construction workers, the volunteers, the survivors—all of a sudden we’ve got to go through this.”

read more

Categories: Politics

Do You Know Where Your Barycenter Is?

Kevin Drum - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 20:02

As you undoubtedly already know, being the scholars and gentlepeople that you are, the moon does not precisely revolve around the earth. Its mass is so big relative to the earth that the two of them revolve jointly around each other. It looks something like this:

The red cross at the center of the two-body system is called the barycenter. The solar system has a barycenter too, largely because of the influence of Jupiter, and the barycenter moves around relative to the sun in a complex pattern that looks like this:

A new paper in Scientific Reports by V. V. Zharkova, S. J. Shepherd, S. I. Zharkov and E. Popova explains what this means for climate change:

Since the Sun moves around the solar system barycenter…then the distances to its perihelion will be 1.47 × 108 km and to it aphelion 1.52 × 108 km. The solar inertial motion means for the Earth that the distance between the Sun and the Earth has to significantly change (up to 0.02 of a.u) at the extreme positions of SIM, and so does the average solar irradiance, which is inversely proportional to the squared distance between the Sun and Earth.

….If the Sun moves in its SIM closer to Earth’s aphelion (position 1) decreasing the Earth orbit eccentricity and to the autumn equinox as it is happening in the current millennium starting from Maunder Minimum, then the distance between Sun and Earth at the aphelion will become shorter approaching 1.49 × 108 km during the summer in the Northern and winter in the Southern hemispheres, and longer at the perihelion approaching 1.50 × 108, or during a winter in the Northern and summer in the Southern hemispheres. Hence, at this SIM position of the Sun, the Earth in aphelion should receive higher solar irradiance (and temperature) during the Northern hemisphere summers and Southern hemisphere winters….This is what happening in the terrestrial temperature in the current millennium starting since Maunder minimum and lasting until ≈2600.

Thanks to the sun’s movement around the solar system’s barycenter, its distance to the earth changes on a cycle lasting about 2200 years, with smaller cycles of about 200 years embedded within the larger one. Thus, the earth has been warming since 1500 AD and will continue warming until 2600 AD, after which it will begin a cooling cycle lasting until 3700 AD. This is what’s causing global warming. However, the next 30 years will see a cooling trend thanks to one of the smaller cycles reaching a minimum in 2050.

This all sounds great except for one thing: it’s completely full of shit.

Ken Rice of the University of Edinburgh, UK, criticised the paper for an “elementary” mistake about celestial mechanics. “It’s well known that the sun moves around the barycentre of the solar system due to the influence of the other solar system bodies, mainly Jupiter,” he says. “This does not mean, as the paper is claiming, that this then leads to changes in the distance between the sun and the Earth.”

….Gavin Schmidt of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies says the paper contains egregious errors. “The sun-Earth distance does not vary with the motion of the sun-Earth system around the barycentre of the sun-Jupiter system, nor the sun-galactic centre system or any other purely mathematical reference point,” he says. He says the journal must retract the paper if it wants to retain any credibility.

So how and why was this article written? And how did it get published, even in an open-source journal? Those are both mysteries. Scientific Reports says it has begun an “established process” to investigate the paper it has published. “This process is ongoing and we cannot comment further at this stage,” a spokesperson said.

In the meantime, all the climate denialists have themselves a jen-u-ine scientific paper to show that greenhouse gases aren’t doing any harm after all. It turns out that global warming is all down to celestial mechanics. And if the paper is eventually retracted? Then it will become yet more evidence of the scientific establishment covering up inconvenients truths. Oh joy.

Categories: Politics

Congress votes to hold Barr, Ross in criminal contempt

Daily Kos - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 18:55

By a mostly party line vote of 230-198, the House has voted to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt of Congress for failing to comply with congressional subpoenas in the House investigation of administration efforts to add a "citizenship" question to the 2020 census. The courts ruled that the administration's stated reasons for adding the question were pretextual; evidence instead suggested Ross and other administration officials sought the new question as means of discouraging minority census responses.

Today's vote marks the first time the House has charged a Trump administration official with criminal contempt. While the vote directs the Department of Justice to take action to compel Barr and Ross to comply with those subpoenas, the Trump administration is expected to refuse to take action.

No Republicans voted for the resolution. Four Democrats voted against.

Categories: Politics

For the Love of Anyone’s Deity, Would Someone Please Donate a Strategist to the House Democratic Caucus!!!!

Balloon Juice - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 17:43

I’m traveling this week, with lots of 0300 starts and wasn’t planning to post, but I just got into the gym at the airport hotel I’m staying at ahead of tomorrow’s pre dawn flight, and MSNBC is on the TV. And the Democrats are actually voting to table (put it to the side and not take up impeachment) an impeachment resolution of the President. This is happening despite only 89 members of the House Democratic caucus publicly stating they support starting an impeachment inquiry!

I have no idea whose idea this is, but I cannot state loudly or strongly enough how galactically stupid this is. Strategic and political malpractice at the highest levels! When this passes, meaning the House will not move to take up impeachment at this time, and it will pass, the President will spend the next week crowing about how he’s been cleared. He’ll use it to chew up the information space that should be devoted to the spillover onto him from the Epstein case, from his publicly going full in on blood and soil herrenvolkism where racism and anti-Semitism in defense of Judaism and Jews equated with Israel and Israelis is no vice, and the upcoming Mueller hearings in the House.

The motion to table just passed: 136 Democrats for, 93 against, and 1 present (abstaining). 194 Republicans and the 1 Independent (Amash?) voted to table it as well. So for now, the House, with overwhelming bipartisan support, isn’t going to do anything more on impeachment and I expect the President will start screaming about being cleared any time now.

Completely irresponsible political theater!

Open thread!

PS: Before anyone asks, I think the House should have a special select committee on impeachment focusing all the investigations through one point leading to either impeachment or exoneration. That’s not what happened with today’s strategic stupidity.

Categories: Politics

Open Thread: 50 Years of Apollo 11 Conspiracies

Balloon Juice - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 17:31

I’m as big a Fortean as you’ll find outside an academic instituion, but sometimes I feel like Buzz Aldrin had the best response. Joel Achenbach, in the Washington Post:

The moon hoax is a classic conspiracy theory — elaborate, oddly durable, requiring the existence of malevolent actors with a secret agenda. The moon-fakers are allegedly so competent they can fool the whole world (but not so competent that they can actually put humans on the moon).

Researchers suggest conspiracy theories are spreading more easily in today’s information universe, with the Internet functioning as a superconductor. A growing science of conspiracism seeks to understand who these people are, why they embrace such ideas, and whether there is anything that can dislodge a really magnetic conspiracy theory from the mind of a true believer.

Polls show that about 5 or 6 percent of the public subscribes to the moon-hoax theory, former NASA chief historian Roger Launius said. That is a modest number, but these folks showed up reliably whenever Launius gave a lecture on the topic: “They’re very vocal — and they love to confront you.”

As NASA celebrates Apollo 11, the space agency must decide whether, and how, to respond to the moon-hoax conspiracy theory…

A more direct response came from Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin when he was hectored by conspiracy theorist Bart Sibrel outside a Beverly Hills hotel in 2002.

Sibrel, brandishing a Bible and asking Aldrin to swear on it, said, “You’re the one who said you walked on the moon when you didn’t. . . . You’re a coward and a liar and a thief.”

WHAM.

Aldrin decked him with a right cross….

Sidebar:

Categories: Politics

Trump offers absolutely zero evidence backing claims 'a lot of progress' has been made with Iran

Daily Kos - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 16:49

On Tuesday Donald Trump said of Iran: "We are not looking for regime change. We are not looking for that at all. We'll see what happens. But a lot of progress has been made."

A lot of lies have been told by the squatter in the White House, making it hard to know for certain whether any of those four sentences—other than we’ll see what happens—is true. We certainly will see. As for “a lot of progress,” if by that is meant giving Iranian hard-liners a political advantage against the more moderate President Hassan Rouhani by making his championing of the 2015 nuclear accord look weak, then—mission accomplished.

Yes, we’ll see what happens, but whatever does, we should never forget that Trump started us down the road to a potential military clash with Iran when he withdrew from the accord last year despite there being no reason whatsoever to do so other than obsessive antipathy against his predecessor in the Oval Office. Absolutely nothing was to be gained, and much lost, by that unilateral withdrawal, which has harmed U.S. relations with longstanding allies and raised rather than lowered the possibility Iran may build a nuclear weapon. Whether you agree with the approach or not, coercive diplomacy can be effective. But coercion without diplomacy almost always fails. 

Now, after reimposing old sanctions and imposing new ones on Iran, plus promising that nation’s “obliteration” if it behaves in a way Trump dislikes, and alleging from misunderstanding a new report that Iran has been breaking the deal by secretly enriching more uranium than it is allowed under the accord, he says Iran’s leaders want to talk even though they’ve repeatedly made it clear that they won’t do that as long as the sanctions are in place. They’ve punctuated that rejection with two announced breaches of the nuclear accord whose very existence hangs by a thread. Nahal Toosi at Politico writes:

“Trump got rid of the Iran nuclear deal because it was Barack Obama’s agreement,” said Jarrett Blanc, a former State Department official who helped oversee the 2015 deal’s implementation. “If you were to present to Trump the same deal and call it Trump’s deal, he’d be thrilled.”

The administration’s confusing messaging is a result of warring between two major factions, U.S. officials say, with Trump in his own separate lane. The infighting has been deeply frustrating to those involved in the debate. “In the past, even when I personally disagreed with a policy, I could explain its logic,” a U.S. official said. “Now I can’t even do that.”

Categories: Politics

Rand Paul Blocks Fast-Tracked 9-11 Responders Aid Bill

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 16:35
Rand Paul Blocks Fast-Tracked 9-11 Responders Aid Bill

Earlier today, Senator Rand Paul blocked an attempt to pass a bipartisan bill to fund the 9/11 victims’ compensation fund, blaming the rising federal debt.

I guess the heroes of 9/11 do not get the same courtesy as corporate fat cats and the rich since Senator Paul voted to pass Donald Trump's tax cuts for the rich with nary an objection over the national debt and which has added about $1 trillion to the deficit.

But for the men and women suffering? Rand Paul needs more time to debate the issue.

"It has long been my feeling that we need to address our massive debt in this country,” he said. “We have a $22 trillion debt. We’re adding debt at about $1 trillion a year. Therefore, any new spending that we are approaching, any new program that is going to have the longevity of 70 or 80 years should be offset by cutting spending that is less valuable. We should at least be having this debate.”

Paul’s objection forces the Senate to go through more procedural steps and votes to pass the compensation bill.

As Rush Limbaugh just admitted, "Nobody is a fiscal conservative anymore."

I guess that's not quite true. "Nobody is a fiscal conservative anymore" when it comes to corporations and the very wealthy but for working-class Americans, you are still screwed by Republicans.

Categories: Politics

Fox And Friends Guest Claims ICE Protects Sex Trafficking Victims

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 16:15
Fox And Friends Guest Claims ICE Protects Sex Trafficking Victims

It's always rich when right-wingers pretend to care about victims of crimes.

In today's episode of Earth 2's "Heroes As Villains" series, Rachel Campos-Duffy casts Jews shutting down ICE headquarters as helping drug cartels and sex traffickers. This is especially impressive gaslighting when one considers that just last week, Trump's Labor Secretary Alex Acosta had to resign in disgrace after his sweetheart deal to notorious sex-trafficker of girls, Jeffrey Epstein, came to light.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: If you don't want ICE, if you don't think that we should have border security, if you think that we should not arrest people or decriminalize people who come over to our country illegally and don't follow our rules, you're doing the work of the cartels. You're doing the work of the -- I mean, this is the wish list for human sex traffickers. If you want to protect our country, you have to support ICE, you have to support CBP. That doesn't mean you can't call for better conditions. But these people are calling for the abolition of ICE and for the decriminalization at our border. They want open borders.

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Categories: Politics

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