More gruel
Link Roundup, 2/11/2017

Link Roundup, 2/11/2017

From the New York Times: We’re edging closer to a conflict between the intelligence community and the White House as the CIA has denied security clearances for two of Flynn’s top aides.

From the LA Times: Disinformation and hype are adding to the fear stirred by the Trump administration’s immigration raids.

From the Dallas Morning News: After years of searching, we finally found one non-citizen who voted. She has a sixth-grade education, so naturally she’s a Republican.

From IBT: Google is pitting AI’s against each other to test their propensity for aggression.

From Scientific American: The North Pole could be ice-free in summer by 2030. Here’s a look at what that means.


    1. You’ll enjoy this piece from the Times on town hall meetings. The snobbish attitudes of many Republicans about those attending the town halls confirms that indeed, the meetings are becoming irritating…Some, like Cornyn/Cruz have been refusing to have town halls. (The Montgomery County Indivisible group I belong to have asked repeatedly to schedule a town hall meeting to no avail. A staffer stated that the senators feel this group – 575 members strong – represent an intense small number of people….which I guess means, “not worth their time”. This chapter, BTW, infiltrated the Brady presentation to the Woodlands chamber and notified media they would be attending (uninvited). That resulted in the article you may have read where the attendees challenged Brady on repeal of the ACA when he expected a controlled, friendly audience.

      Here’s the article. Note Sensenbrenner’s snooty comment – telling isn’t it?

      1. “The Montgomery County Indivisible group I belong to have asked repeatedly to schedule a town hall meeting to no avail. A staffer stated that the senators feel this group – 575 members strong – represent an intense small number of people….which I guess means, “not worth their time”. This chapter, BTW, infiltrated the Brady presentation to the Woodlands chamber and notified media they would be attending (uninvited).”

        FYI, Mary, the Indivisible Guide states this is where your Indivisible Group pickets the offices and home of your MoC and invite the media. The message to keep on should be, “Our MoC refuses to face his/her constituents. Apparently our MoC doesn’t care what we think and doesn’t want to represent us.”

  1. CA Gov Brown has declared a disaster area due to the flooding and dam damage that required mandatory evacuation of over 188K people down stream. Potus has not yet decided if he will “grant” the disaster designation…Meanwhile, the area is working frantically to repair the damaged dam in advance of more wet weather coming their way.

    This is what a small minded, vindictive man does…when federal help would multiply efforts to repair this breech in time to avoid a catastrophe.

      1. That’s what I was implying when I said he got caught. Sure enough though, Flynn’s scandal very likely goes to the very top, all the way up to Trump himself. It hardly makes sense otherwise for a man that abhors being made to look like he made a mistake forcing Flynn’s hand in resigning otherwise.

        Still, I can’t help but wonder if it was a mistake for Trump to let Flynn go where he can’t have so much of a stranglehold on him anymore. Journalists were going to be all over this story was a rabid dog regardless, so perhaps it goes to show the extent that Dear Leader’s nerves are getting rattled.

      2. I recall that Trump makes anyone who works for him sign a confidentiality agreement. This wouldn’t protect Flynn from a subpoena, which Congress has, but it would have to get a majority vote on a committee, and potus knows that isn’t going to happen….unless/until potus becomes such a liability that they will use it against him….

      3. “Flynn’s head was the first the roll, but it certainly won’t be the last.”

        I know :).

        When I was young I was watching The Empire Strikes Back with my father. If you review the movies, that one was the one where Darth Vader expends a large portion of his time force-choking upper level military leaders to death over their mistakes. After the third or so one that happens to, my old man was like, “But if he kills all the people on his own side, there’ll be nobody left.”

        Trump went in with a promise to fire people who don’t work effectively (what ‘effectively’ means depends on the listener) and though that means a lot of civil servants for no reason, his campaign shows he’s willing to cut people loose when they fail them.

        The problem is that the administration is not a campaign. You don’t just keep scheduling rallies and shuffle people around. Administrating a massive organization such as the federal government requires continuity of leadership and transition time.

        So, if ‘getting caught’ is how we edge these people out, then we have to keep catching them. Keep that White House door revolving, and there won’t be enough time to close it off against democracy for good.

    1. EJ

      It’s interesting to note that Flynn’s excuses basically boil down to “the confirmation hearings were too rushed and I didn’t have time to properly cover my ass.”

      We knew it already, but it’s interesting to hear people say it.

      1. What’s happening with Flynn begs the question as to how the GOP can justify not creating an independent, bi-partisan committee to investigate Russia’s influence in the 2016 election. David Frum has made a very clear, pointed suggestion that this is one of two initiatives that the American public should insist that Congress implement. This business of an “in-house” majority party controlled investigation is cover and the gravity of this situation demands that Republicans cede control to an independent committee/counsel. We’ll see if that has a prayer – only if people rise up in such overwhelming numbers to demand it will it have a chance. The Republicans likely know this could seriously impugn T and they are in damage control, which is not their legal responsibility.

      2. Here’s more background on the Flynn resignation. This is a situation that is begging for investigative journalism….Bottom line – this confirms what we suspect, i.e., that the T team is rotten throughout and there are plenty of secrets to be plumbed.

        Let me ask this question. If the tables were reversed, and Clinton (H) was potus, do you think Republicans wouldn’t demand an independent investigation?

  2. For the anti-abortion movement to just pull back the curtains and reveal themselves for the backwards asshats they truly are would be refreshing if it weren’t so damned revolting. An Oklahoma state representative, Justin Humphrey, has sponsored a bill that would, quite literally, require a woman to have her male partner’s actual permission in order to have an abortion.

    He said, and I quote: “I believe one of the breakdowns in our society is that we have excluded the man out of all of these types of decisions,” he said. “I understand that they feel like that is their body,” he said of women. “I feel like it is a separate — what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.’ And you know when you enter into a relationship you’re going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that then take all precautions and don’t get pregnant,” he explained. “So that’s where I’m at. I’m like, hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. But after you’re irresponsible then don’t claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you’re the host and you invited that in.

    So, according to Mr. Humphrey’s logic, not only is it irresponsible for women to have sex, but their becoming pregnant automatically forfeits their right to make decisions about their own bodies, requiring the consent of a man (whose hypothetical judgment, apparently, we’re supposed to take at face value as reasoned and appropriate) because her body, in the good representative’s words, is just a “host”.

    The anti-abortion movement is not about abortion. I repeat, the anti-abortion movement is NOT about abortion.

      1. Plus promoting that life begins when the egg and sperm meet…I mean really! Bottom line, for the hard line (which is most) pro-life people, NOTHING will satisfy them except zero abortion for any reason, which includes the life of the mother, rape/incest.

      1. Speaking of pushing their luck too far, the Freedom Caucus has just voted to oppose any measure to repeal Obamacare that doesn’t go at least as far as the bill that passed in ’15, which repeals the Medicaid expansion, repeals the individual and employer mandates and also repeals all the subsidies and the taxes that help to pay for them.

        In other words, this is a recipe for a market collapse. What the hell are Republicans going to do with this?

  3. There is so much in this Forbes blog that is outright spin that it makes me angry. You may have to use your google+ feature to access if you have ad blockers. If it won’t open for you, let me know and I’ll copy/paste salient points. I’ve been following The Apothecary blog which focuses just on health care on Forbes for quite a while. The authors have been knowledgeable but many, such as this person, is using facts falsely to make his point. Repubs have been denigrating the ACA and the medicaid expansion to sully it in a run up for their plan to block grant and reduce the budget for it. No matter how you cut it, millions of Americans, the poorest of Americans, will lose access to health care. I can rebut the points but I think this group can do that on your own. Medicaid expansion is critical yet this author is making the case that the states that have done so are losing buckets of money. Let me ask this question, since the ACA medicaid expansion paid for 95% of all costs, isnt’ there a savings in there? Of course if a state wasn’t providing services at all to these people, than 5% would be a new cost. It’s smoke and mirrors.

    And, using KS as a role model? Really? Let me know if you have questions about these claims and I’ll do my best to refute them.

  4. Everyone may have heard about John Oliver putting ads on tv shows that trump watches regularly. Here is a link if not. In this case the ads are to educate trump about important things he definitely needs to know.

    I’m wondering if this technique could be applied to a more general problem. A problem of people who limit their news sources and getting “in front of” is very difficult. My question is, is it possible to put ads on fox news, for example, contradicting their misleading story? Maybe a link to contradicting data?

    Would fox allow it? Or would the revenue from these ads be welcomed? Anybody here know if this could be done?

    Whether it would work is a separate question. It might change a mind in the audience or it might change the fox behavior, if after a misleading segment, a short ad, gently suggesting that immigration facts are different than they just heard. It could be a lighthearted first person story, then a link to the data.

    It occurred to me that this might be possible a while ago, but would/could fox refuse to air the ads? It seems at least this time Oliver’s people made it work.

    I would contribute time and money to an organization that is willing to try.

  5. Dear All, I must say I’m impressed by the actions being proposed (and taken) on the “What Steps Are We Taking” section of this blog.

    I don’t agree with all the positions taken, but I admire the time, energy, and effort on everyone’s part. You guys are true activists.

  6. The NSC makes policy from tweets? WTF?

    WASHINGTON — These are chaotic and anxious days inside the National Security Council, the traditional center of management for a president’s dealings with an uncertain world.

    Three weeks into the Trump administration, council staff members get up in the morning, read President Trump’s Twitter posts and struggle to make policy to fit them.

    1. The man is incapable of communicating in anything with more than 40 characters, he has no attention span, doesn’t read therefore has all reports (including top secret dossiers) summarized and verbally reported to him, and like a spoiled child, refuses to do the hard work his job involves. He’s a bully, he’s shallow, he’s mean, he’s small. Nothing he does surprises me. He simply can’t go any lower in my estimation than he already is.

  7. Another group of people who took Trump seriously but not literally:

    It’s another one of those things that makes me hope that at the very least Americans will pay more attention to the difference between political correctness the dog whistle, and the concept of a politicians’ words actually meaning something that you should really take seriously because they affect your life.

    1. FYI, off topic anecdote.

      So, I still do have a couple Trump fan friends as previously mentioned, doing their rah rah rah on Facebook et al.

      The other day I saw one of them posting about the Bowling Green Massacre thing and got curious about what that group of people thought about it. Comment thread consensus was generally that Trump is still 110% best thing happen to America evar and it’s sad that he had to hire this ‘pollster’ who ‘never can get anything right’ because she’s pollster and pollsters are wrong because polls are lies and all she knows how to do is lie.

      So you know, if you were curious.

      1. I know Mary will cry a river and some of us will use a micro-violin or purple kool-aid, but the below Politico link shows how the Trump supporters are reacting (-:

        Unfortunately, they are overwhelmingly happy that he is getting rid of all those undesirables and keeping those aliens out, despite the real damage that is being done. This shows how difficult it might be to get rid of T.

      2. They’re smiling right now but when their health care (ACA, Medicaid, Medicare) start crumbling, and when their food stamps and other benefits start disappearing, and and….their day is coming. Smile all they want, it doesn’t make the correct and it doesn’t make potus any better.

    2. It’d be damn near amusing to see people so blatantly cherry picking positions to suit their interests while conveniently ignoring others that are obviously harmful to them, but perhaps it’s just another instance of the idea that if you think people are acting against their own interests, you’ve probably failed to understand what their interests truly are.

      California farmers have made their bed and now they’re going to have to lie in it, only this time they probably won’t have their illegal workforce to tuck them in.

      1. I have always been uncomfortable with the explanation that people who seem to be making an illogical choice (i.e., one that is not in their best interests) are really doing so.. I believe, that people make their decisions based upon what they “want” to do without serious contemplation of the consequences of their decision. How else would you explain these farmers who heard clearly what T said about immigrants, know their labor pool is filled with undocumented people, have to have them, yet voted anyway for potus. Or, union leaders who believed T that he could bring jobs back in industries that are becoming obsolete….Or women, who , I can’t go there – can’t find anything to explain a woman voting for T after all he said, all he had done…

      2. Admittedly it may be little more than a show of arrogance for this to be coming from a man, but let’s talk about women for a moment. Why would they vote for Trump, and not in insignificant numbers, after everything they saw him say and do?

        Does that idea that if you think people are voting against their own interests, that you don’t really understand their interests hold water here? I believe it does. Misguided as such a thing is, many likely well bought into the idea that Trump’s a successful businessman and could turn the economy around for them. Others, though smaller in number, simply despised Hillary Clinton for running counter to the idea of what it meant to be a woman in her generation and voted for Trump as a means to register their hatred and jealousy.

        There are other reasons, to be sure, some of them understandable and others not nearly as much, but it’s nevertheless important to recognize those mindsets, disturbing though they are and understand what brought them about in such significant numbers.

      3. Mary, don’t forget those who want a right leaning SCOTUS. They’ll get their first installment on that wish, but like a classic deal with the devil, they just may have severely underestimated what it’s going to end up costing them.

      1. Metal NASA lunchbox, so “retro” (-; One hopes NASA will outlast the lunchbox!

        NYT had an article today about how federal employees are handling their toxic work atmosphere. Lots of concern, anger, fear for what happens to the data (climate change/EPA/etc) that has taken decades to accumulate.

        A second article describes how states in Republican hands are moving swiftly to pass laws, eliminate regulations, etc. that augment efforts by Congress.

        And a third article is from The Guardian and details the out of the box thinking about how to deal with the melting polar ice caps….

      2. Hi Bobo, not yet, but hopefully soon. Here’s an e-mail I received yesterday on the subject:

        “We have, at present count, more than 190 sister cities hosting marches on April 22. Our website has been updated with more details about our mission, values, and goals for the march, but it also features a map of registered cities and their social media pages. This list is constantly being updated as we get more information from self-organized marches around the world. The DC march is a small part of an enormous global movement in support of science and science based policy. Marches are currently scheduled on 6 out of 7 continents (still working on Antarctica!).

        We also want to thank you for your patience. We have so far contacted roughly 1/4 of the 53,000 people who volunteered to help with the march but are eager to reach out to every one of you. We look forward to working with you in the future, both in the march planning and efforts beyond.

        For now, we have two requests.

        1) We encourage you to get the word out about the march in whatever way you can. Talk to local high schools. Reach out to science museums. Post about it on social. The larger the movement, the more effective the message and we are counting on each and every one of you to build on this inspiring momentum around the globe!

        2) We hope to feature some of your personal stories on social media. So, please, send your stories about how science has affected you in your everyday life to [email protected]. If you’re a researcher, tell us about your work! If you’re someone with a passion for science, tell us why! We are also hoping to feature original science themed artwork. If you are interested in having us display your art, please send it to us, along with how you would like to be credited at [email protected]. We want the voices of everyone supporting this movement to be heard.”

        So the bad news is that I don’t have my assignment yet, but the good news is that’s because there are so many people wanting to volunteer. Also I’ll be trying my hand at making a brain hat for the march:

        But I do fancy a version in electric blue rather than pink!

        Took a break from politics to run down to San Antonio to do a little shopping at TMEA- lots of band geek fun! Now back to the resistance.

      3. Mary, I’d say use this official statement, and mention that the only requirement for participation is that you value science.

        “There are certain things that we accept as facts with no alternatives. The Earth is becoming warmer due to human action. The diversity of life arose by evolution. Policy makers who devalue expertise risk making decisions that do not reflect reality and must be held accountable. An American government that ignores science to pursue ideological agendas endangers the world.

        Although this will start with a march, we hope to use this as a starting point to take a stand for science regarding policies that affect the ability of scientists to publish peer reviewed research without sanction. Slashing funding and restricting scientists from communicating their findings (from tax-funded research!) with the public is absurd and cannot be allowed to stand as policy. This is a non-partisan issue that reaches far beyond people in the STEM fields and should concern anyone who values empirical research and science.”

      4. Thanks, I’ll use this text and the date and link from the organization so people who want to participate or help know where to go. I will post it first on my Indivisible Montgomery/Spring dashboard. This group has some sharp people and I am participating as I can.

      1. I think that the T team is throwing everything out there to see what “sticks” and to keep us off-balance…hard to focus on a single issue (like repealing EPA, or immigration, etc) when you’ve got all this “noise” happening… I believe this is strategy. Red states are reinforcing the national strategy by passing laws/regulations that implement the extreme agenda at the local level. (Sanctuary cities, etc) That’s where we can be really impactful. We know these legislators – They need to know us! That is the purpose of the visits, cards, calls, showing up at Town Halls….These things are making a difference. So proud of everyone taking part in this effort.…/republican-congress…?
        Republican Congress members face tide of protest in home districts

  8. Interesting confrontation at Rep. Gus Bilirakis’ (FL) town hall. Bill Akins, the the secretary in the local Republican Party started talking Obamacare “death panels” which prompted the room to erupt in booing. This got under Mr. Akins’ apparently very thin skin as he then denounced them, calling them “children”.

    You just know Congress has to be looking forward to their summer recess, right?

    1. I am proud of my fellow Americans for turning out and speaking out. Congress’ recess begins Feb. 17. Town halls are scheduled all over the map. You can go to Town Hall Project 2018 which is keeping a spread sheet of Town Hall meetings by MOC. Here’s a link:

      Speaking of FL, You may want to give this FL Congressman from Pensacola a call. He has filed a bill to repeal the EPA. Before you say that will never happen, just think about what has already happened. Let Rep. Matt Gaetz know how you feel about this bill. He is joined by 3 other GOP colleagues on this bill.

      4300 Bayou Blvd., Suite 13
      (850) 479-1183
      Pensacola, FL 32503

  9. An already strained relationship between the IC and the White House will assuredly deteriorate even further depending on how stubborn Trump is in keeping Flynn around. It’s one thing, reprehensible as it is, for our brave men and women to be at the receiving end of feeling unappreciated and even insulted, but it’s quite another to see openly traitorous behavior being tolerated in the White House.

    Just how ugly is this situation going to get?

  10. That Scientific American article just scratched the surface. It mentioned in passing the carbon released when the permafrost starts melting. Well, do some research and see what the real impact will be, as the amount of carbon sunk in the permafrost in Canada and Russia is beyond huge. This University of Colorado study states that the the amount of carbon stored in the permafrost is twice that of ALL the carbon currently in the atmosphere.

    This article states the same thing, a University of Alaska project:

    So bottom line, when this stuff goes, the positive feedback loop will be impossible to stop, and the climate, well, we are completely screwed.

    I would suggest that anyone, anyone at all, that suggests that global warming is a hoax, or not a big deal, or not man-made, is perpetrating crimes against humanity, and should be dealt with accordingly.

    1. Thankyou for posting these articles and linking to them.

      The issue of climate change is very possibly the most important threat facing human civilization today. People who deny that climate change is occurring are perpetuating crimes against humanity. That is why many people are extremely concerned regarding the refusal of the Trumpikans to acknowledge the importance of climate change. It is also why so many people would like to implement carbon taxation are other means of controlling the release of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gasses.

      The storage of carbon dioxide in the permafrost has been known for some time, but any and all additional data is more than welcome.

      Furthermore the absorption of Carbon dioxide in the oceans may be leading to the slow trend of increasing acidification of the oceans. That could have some severe impacts, not the least of which is on shellfish, leading to shell thinning and some other phenomena. Scientists don’t fully understand the potential impacts.

      So thanks, once again.

      1. Thanks from me as well, Dinsdale. I’ve been following what’s happening in the oceans as well. The callous disregard for the melting of our polar ice caps plus what is happening to our oceans is mind-boggling to me. I simply cannot understand how people disregard what’s happening.

  11. AI is our future.

    My Garmin led me to the wrong place. (Someone’s home instead of a restaurant.) I reset the garmin and turned on my phone’s google maps navigation app. Periodically, I’d hear the google app ask, “Did you say something? I didn’t hear you correctly,” when the Garmin was giving me directions.

    What next? Are Google and Garmin going to be arguing with each other as I drive down the road? It made me laugh. I can get that experience now by having my husband in the car. 🙂

    1. From the link:

      “I’m not sure how many people currently opposed to paying for free health care, or free college, or whatever, would be happy to pay for health care that cost less, that was less wasteful and more efficient, and whose price we expected to go down rather than up with every passing year. I expect it would be a lot.”
      That hits close to my view of health care, and why I never really liked Obamacare. It forces you, via the individual mandate, to purchase coverage, to to be at the mercy of the insurance industry with its bloated bureaucracy and resulting administrative costs, for health care. I was born about 50 years ago in a private hospital, and my parents were able to afford the cost of my mom giving birth, and we paid for doctor’s visits out of pocket, despite the fact that we were low income. Now, it’s taken for granted that you need insurance in order to get health care, because health care costs are so high, or maybe it’s the high administrative costs of the insurance middlemen that contribute to the high cost of medical care. I certainly don’t begrudge doctors and their medical staff their high salaries. They are the ones doing all the work. But insurance companies? It angers me that anyone opposed to Obamacare is assumed not to care about the poor. If medical care were more efficient and therefore less costly, that would empower the poor, along with everyone else. I’m not in favor of a single payer system, either, because that could create its own bloated bureaucracy and resultant inefficient care, along with a lack of choice.

      1. Some of the increased costs of health care are valid, but I agree there is still no excuse for the bloated bureaucracy and capricious pricing for services.

        My memories are much like yours. Most medical costs were out of pocket and reasonable. The family practitioner we went to didn’t have a staff. He welcomed us in, diagnosed whatever was wrong, gave any immunizations that were due, wrote a prescription if needed, and presented us with a bill for $20 which my mom paid immediately in cash.

        Contrast that with last week when my husband went in for his checkup. The doctor billed our insurance $855. Our insurance company’s negotiated portion was $426 and our of pocket charge ended up being $301.50.

        Insurance paid for part because the visit was for my husband’s annual physical. The part we have to pay was for problems the doctor diagnosed at the time of the visit.

        The doctor ordered two tests. As of now the charge is unknown, but I’m guessing it will be hefty. And, next month, my husband sees his cardiologist …

        I can’t remember a year when we didn’t meet our deductible. Many years (like last year) we meet our full out of pocket limit ($8000 – $10000).

        Still, we consider ourselves lucky since we know many people can’t afford the coverage or the bills until a deductible is met.

        Honestly, for some medical and lab tests it’s better to pay without insurance. The price is lower.

      2. The cost factor is a problem with the ACA, but it is one that the two parties could have worked together to resolve so that more people could afford healthcare. The closer you get to social security and medicare – assuming they are still around – the more you’ll appreciate the concept of redistributed income….We do this all the time in areas that people don’t think about: fire and police services, public education and higher ed, health research, DPS services – licenses, etc. I don’t mind my taxes going to things that are for the public good but I know that excessive premiums and deductibles have been a hardship for many. What will be interesting to see, Tutta, is what replaces the ACA…not only in terms of cost, but coverage and services. I will maintain to my dying breath that universal health care should be the goal and that it should be funded by a VAT so that everyone who receives health care, contributes to its cost.

        Europe has figured this out long ago – maybe imperfectly, but they are spending less than half per person on healht care with far better health outcomes. Something is wrong in America but it starts with our refusal to learn from the health care models that are working successfully. We do. not. have. to . re-invent the wheel here. So frustrating.

      3. Yes, Mary, health care is frustrating. In all fairness, I am not targeting the ACA here. Health care costs have been rising as long as I can remember.

        Unfortunately, costs continue to climb.

        I can’t claim that I’m an expert here, but I have qualms about universal coverage due to experiences in Norway and Venezuela.

      1. I like the simple fact that these questions occurred to the author, that he took time to think outside the box, to question assumptions, even if there were no definitive solutions. The questions are a start. The main question is “Does it really have to be this way?”

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