Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

“We Made Certain they knew that”


I was always very candid with my patients. They want to know that you are working for them, not someone else. We made certain they knew that.” Tom Price, MD – Secretary of HHS

Republicans, the Trump administration, led by Graham and Cassidy are moving forward to defund and cripple the ACA bringing millions of people back to when states decided who could have a smidgen of healthcare and who could not. This comment by Dr. and Secretary of Health Tom Price in 2016 is priceless and is the opposite of what he said then. Both he and his fellow Republicans are deliberately misleading constituents and his patients about their intentions with the ACA. Tom Price is more concerned with the politics of the ACA rather than his constituents well being. Recently, commentator/comedian Jimmy Kimmel brought this to the forefront in his monologue about Senator Cassidy who was a guest on Jimmy’s show and made comments about the most recent Republican Healthcare bill.

The same as other recent healthcare bills by Republican, the Graham – Cassidy bill will return healthcare back to pre-2008 when states could deny able-bodied people healthcare, had limited funding, could allow denial of insurance based upon pre-existing conditions, eliminate premium subsidies, not subsidize out of pocket expenses, cap healthcare, etc. These are all the things Senators Graham and Cassidy claim will still be covered in their state block grant bill for healthcare. Except, there is no mandate by Washington forcing states to have the same as what is offered today. It is all a state rights gambit with some states being generous and many not being so generous.

Kimmel: “I don’t know what happened to Bill Cassidy, but when he was on this publicity tour, he listed his demands for a health-care bill very clearly. These were his words. He said he wants coverage for all, no discrimination based on preexisting conditions, lower premiums for middle-class families and no lifetime caps. Guess what? The new bill does none of those things.”

Cassidy “just lied right to my face” according to Kimmel.

Graham: “He didn’t give (Cassidy) the courtesy of hearing his side of the story. He went on national TV and called this man — who has worked for the underprivileged and health care all of his life — a liar, (Graham referring to Cassidy), who practiced medicine before he entered politics. And I think that’s inappropriate.

I don’t like the idea of calling this good man a liar without ever talking to him first. That really says more about Mr. Kimmel then it does Dr. Cassidy,'”

The Cassidy-Graham bill would do away with Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, subsidies for private insurance, eliminate the requirement that Americans have insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and reduce payments to insurers for out-of-pocket costs. In their place, it would offer states a block grant they could use to spend on health care as they saw fit. The block grant would be 17% less than what total federal spending would be in 2026 meaning states would struggle to cover the same number of people.

There is nothing to talk about with Mr. Cassidy or even Mr. Graham both of who are indignant at being called out by Kimmel.

There will be resources in your state; but, those resources may not be of the same value as under the ACA. The Graham – Cassidy plan will favor states which did not expand Medicaid or have not had higher premium/csr subsidies. It is obvious what Graham and Cassidy are doing. Punish states which expanded Medicaid and reward states which did not expand Medicaid. California would lose $27 billion in funding, New York would lose $18 billion in funding while Texas would be rewarded with $8 billion in funding.

In a letter to both Senators Graham and Schumer, this is what the America’s Health Insurance Plans (Modern Healthcare, September 20, 2017, Matthew Weinstock), the industry’s “main lobby group” had to say on the Graham-Cassidy legislation. The Graham – Cassidy healthcare plan fails to meet five crucial tests:

• stabilizing the insurance market;
• ensuring Medicaid reforms meet beneficiaries’ needs;
• guaranteed access to coverage for all Americans, including those with pre-existing conditions;
• time for the industry to prepare for any changes to existing law;
• and getting rid of health insurance and excise taxes.

The last item called out by the America Health Insurance Plans is the Cadillac tax, which was meant to tax excessive executive healthcare plans and also force “consumers to have more skin in the game” with higher co-pays and deductibles. People would then decide if they really needed to go to the doctor or not avoiding cosmetic or unneeded doctor visits. The attempt on the later is misguided as the commercial healthcare industry has a much larger impact on rising healthcare costs than consumer doctor visits. The emphasis needs to be on controlling the commercial healthcare industry and how healthcare serves are delivered to patients with better outcomes. Most of the burden of controlling healthcare costs has been shifted to the consumer through this tax by Congress and for-profit healthcare insurance companies.

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Social justice activism in your own backyards?

by Peter Dorman (originally published at Econospeak)

Another Year of Equity at Evergreen

The following email was forwarded to me and many other Evergreen faculty:

On [date deleted], students, staff and faculty of The Evergreen State College will hold a Re-Convocation Rally on Red Square to express and affirm their commitment to goals of equity, inclusion and success for all in pursuit of higher education. The rally is organized by Staff and Faculty Acting for Equity, a group that works in partnership with Evergreen students. Rally organizers stated that the “focus will be on healing from the events of last spring and celebrating our collective cultural wealth as the Evergreen community.” Evergreen community members and friends are invited to participate in an afternoon of speakers, music, dancing, discussion, and creative expression.

Staff and Faculty Acting for Equity said in a statement that “the Re-Convocation Rally will carry forward the community spirit and dedication to equity that motivates Evergreen. We believe that our success as members of a community is dependent not only on ourselves, but on the success of the most vulnerable. We acknowledge the particular strengths of and challenges faced by first-generation, Black and Brown, undocumented, Latinx, trans*, queer, veteran, and disabled students who have been traditionally underserved by higher education. We strive to center their voices as we move toward more equitable outcomes for all our students.”  (I deleted the date—PD)

Needless to say, I agree with nearly all the sentiments expressed here—until I come to the final sentence, which manages to pack, depending on how you count them, two-and-a-half to three untenable and politically destructive assumptions in just its first six words.

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Obamacare Could Die

Obamacare Could Die

We are at this very odd moment now.  We thought ACA was saved by a narrow vote some months ago, when John McCain joined Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski to block the last version of Trumpcare.  Whew!  No need to worry about millions of people having their health insurance taken away!  Time to start pushing for single payer, Medicare for all, hah hah!  But, ooops!

So here we are with only 12 days to go before the window in which the US Senate can pass a repeal and replace of ACA using budget resolution, and thus with only a majority vote.  But, hey, here we have Cassidy-Graham, which would turn the whole thing into block grants to the states, allowing them to allow insurance companies to charge more for preexisting conditions and pretty much get rid of all those things people have liked about ACA once they began to realize that it might disappear.  But now hardly anybody is aware of what is going down at all, with near zero media attention, since we all moved on to Korea and DACA and whatever..   But this stealth Cassidy-Graham bill could very well pass.

It looks like Collinis and Murkowski will again vote no, realizing that it slashes the Medicaid expansion, among other things, and would kill insurance for many people in their states who currently have health insurance thanks to ACA.  But one of the co-sponsors, Lindsey Graham of SC, is John McCain’s closest ally and friend in the Senate, maybe in all of Washington now.  Reports have it that McCain is in fact thinking seriously of voting for this bill, which most reports say is actually worse than what got shot down previously by McCain’s swing vote.  The only other reported possible negative vote is  Rand Paul, who is claiming this bill still contains too  much of ACA, but he voted for the “slim repeal” after  similar complaining last time.  He could easily vote for this.

The hard bottom line is that we could wake up in a week or so with this awful bill passed, ready to whiz through the House for Trump to sign, and Obamacare dead after all, with millions set to lose their insurance, with barely anybody even knowing what is up.  This is a seriously bad business.

Barkley Rosser

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A Wake-Up Call for Students

Guest Author: Alan Collinge, StudentLoanJustice.Org,Both Alan and I have written various posts on the student loan crisis. Alan has been featured on Angry Bear Blog from time to time.

If you are in college and looking for something worthy to fight for today; as a student, you should consider the student loan issue. Student loans and how they are administered are the national injustice of our time reaching threatening proportions and impacting the livelihood of young adults going forward. While at first glance, the problem appears complicated, confusing, and overwhelming; it is actually quite simple and its debt genesis hearkens back to the creation of this country. This problem transcends partisan and cultural divides and could serve to bring together those on the left and right on campus.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others were in debt up to their eyeballs to British banks and merchants. They came to understand how a lending system could be used against the citizens. Of course it was not just the Founders who were being exploited, many early settlers were indebted to English banks as well. John Adams famously remarked;

“There are two ways to enslave and conquer a country. One is by the sword. The other is by debt”

.

When the Founders created the Constitution, they made it a point to reflect on bankruptcy rights prominently. Few people realize that a uniform bankruptcy system is called for before the power to raise an army or a navy, ahead of the power to coin currency, and even ahead of the power to declare war in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.
Obviously, bankruptcy rights were very important to these men.

Free men are not forced into any type of behavior by the government that We The People established and ordained. The government is to serve the people – not to force them into servitude and obedience. The people are sovereign, as the people came before the government and the Constitution that gave rise to the government.

Adam Smith, the founder of free market economics provided the basis for western economic theory, was compelled to advocate for bankruptcy protection as a means to encourage entrepreneurship, risk taking, and also a means to compel good faith in a lending relationship.

When an individual or firm goes bankrupt, a legal process is instigated to discharge debts that cannot be repaid. In former times such debtors might have been put into a debtors’ prison and languished there for years. The process weighs assets against liabilities and allows the debts to be discharged at some fraction of their nominal value, leaving the debtor free of the burden, albeit subject to rules of financial behaviour and with a blemish on their credit record which can last for years.

Student loans violate longstanding economic principles and as such the beliefs of the Founders. Today, Congress has placed conditions on student loan bankruptcy so severe; that of 169,000 people with student loans who filed for bankruptcy in 2014, fewer than 20 received relief. When our legislators first restricted the right to student loan bankruptcy in the 70’s, some members warned that such a move had dire constitutional implications, but their concerns went unheeded. As one University of Connecticut expert Philip Schuhman testified to Congress:

” students should not be singled out for special and discriminatory treatment. I have the further very literal feeling that this is almost a denial of their right to equal protection of the law. Nor do I think any evidence has been presented that these people, these young people just beginning their years on the whole should be singled out for special, and as I view it, discriminatory treatment. I suggest to you that this may at least in spirit be a denial of their right to equal protection with the virtual pole star of our constitutional ambit.”

Today, student loans are the only type of loan in this country from which bankruptcy rights have been removed leading to consequences so severe as to result in a form of peonage. Despite peonage being made illegal after the civil war in 1867, it still flourished in the form of sharecropping with former slaves and poor farmers farming plots of land owned by others. Sharecroppers supposedly received a percentage of the profits from sale of grown crops. The sharecroppers were forced to take out relatively large loans just to get by and meet daily expenses, buy seed, rent land, and pay the interest rates imposed on them by landlords.

Also in the past African Americans could be accused of falsely owing money or trivial sums, given sham trials and quickly sold off by the courts into a privatized system of debt slavery to pay back debt. The peonage contracts contained enslaving terms and conditions, allowing the employer to trade, confine, whip and beat workers as long as the debt was deemed unpaid, which could practically last forever.

While not as severe as peonage, students in default are denied access to federal programs and unemployment benefits. Social Security and employment wages can be garnished leading to diminished lifetime earnings and poverty. All of these conditions have a severe impact upon the overall economy as younger workers do not achieve their full earning potential.

The student loan industry is willfully predatory and profitable for the banks who lobbied intensely for the removal of bankruptcy protections and work hard to keep their monetary advantage. As Mr. Potter would say; “The bank always get paid” and this comes no matter what the terms or conditions of the loan are.

(run75441) In my own discussion with a former University of Michigan lobbyist who was regaling me after I dared to make a statement to Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow about what her stance and actions were with regard to student loans. “There is IBR and Repaye which are programs allowing payment back on student loans based upon income.” These programs are mostly failing because of one rule requiring the yearly application to the program rather than an automatic re-up into the program. The re-up is required to report income a factor which is automatically done for Medicare via computer systems. The manual yearly application for the programs was bound to be a failure just by this alone.

It was not just the banks cashing in on the removal of consumer protections. In 2012, the federal government booked over $50 billion in profit on the lending system and this has increased in more recent years. What is disturbing is White House Budget data showing a profit being made on defaults. Think about this: where a credit card company is thrilled to get back a dime on the dollar for their defaulted accounts; the federal government is actually getting back more than a dollar in return. This is a defining hallmark of a predatory lending system and unfortunately for the students, the Department of Education sits on top of it all doing everything it can to perpetuate this situation. Department of Education lawyers fight tooth-and-nail behind the scenes to deny legitimate bankruptcy. This form of government enforced peonage spans many presidents and Congresses and both political parties going back to the seventies.

In 1998, when Congress made bankruptcy permanently unavailable for the overwhelming majority of borrowers, the nation owed roughly $100 Billion in student loans. Today that has exploded to $1.5 Trillion. By the end of this year, nearly one in four borrowers will have defaulted on their loans. People’s lives are being devastated. Families are being torn apart, particularly where cosigners are put on the hook for their kid’s exploded loans. People are fleeing the country, and some are even committing suicide as a result of their student loan debt.

If you think you don’t need to worry because there are forgiveness programs in place, you are wrong. With 57% already kicked out of them income based repayment programs are failing misrably. Assuming the programs are not ended by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, I estimate only 10% will be successful and have their loans forgiven and still potentially taxed as income. The rest will be disqualified from the program and left owing far more than when they graduated.

Alan Collinge is the Founder of Student Loan Justice Org and author of “The Student Loan Scam” (Beacon Press).

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On The Relationship Between Wahhabism And Salafism

On The Relationship Between Wahhabism And Salafism

I apologize if this seems an esoteric topic, but it is one that seems to be a matter of seriously contentious dispute, as well as one that Iis relevant to various controversies and issues in the Middle East now. It is triggered by the biggest argument I have ever had with Juan Cole, whom I usually agree with, and indeed I agree with the vast majority of his recent  post advising Saudi Arabia on how they can make themselves look better to the rest of the world, which includes such obvious items as allowing women to drive (the last of 7).

My disagreement with him was over a line just dropped incidentally that he would later defend ardently, that the official Saudi theology/ideology of “Wahhabism” is “not Sunni.” I challenged this, pointing out that 1) the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) officially uses as its official Shari’a law code the Hanbali code, one of the four Sunni Shari’a codes, and 2) that KSA is currently claiming to lead a global Sunni movement against the global Shia movement, even if this may well boil down simply to a local power struggle between KSA and Iran. I think Juan agrees with those two points, and also that Wahhabism and Salafism are not identical, in contrast to claims by many ignorant commentators.

I now accept that Juan is right about certain matters I differed with him about. The founder of Wahhabism, Muhammed ibn Abdel-Wahhab, who formed an alliance in 1744 with the founder of the Saudi dynasty, Muhammed ibn Sa’ud, did not make as his primal demand that the very strict Hanbali code be adopted by the Saudi family as part of their alliance. He had his own idiosyncratic theology that mostly attacked local practices such as worship of saints and their shrines. And he denounced the existing Sunnis and all other Muslims who did not follow his version of Islam to the point that they could be killed, although it seems that his worst wrath was against Shia and Sufis. But his stance led and justified the view by many that his followers were not proper Sunnis, even though later they would adopt the proper, if extreme, Hanbali Shari’a code, although that would be following ibn Hanbal’s follower, ibn Tamiyyah more specifically when they did so by a century or so ago. It was also the case that from the beginning Abdel-Wahhab’s views were close to those of advocates of the Hanbali code, who included members of his family, including his influential grandfather.

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Douglas F. Dowd Is Dead

Douglas F. Dowd Is Dead

Douglas Fitzgerald Dowd has died at age 97 in Bologna, Italy.  A scholar of Thorstein Veblen and expounder of a radical view of US economic history that strongly influenced Howard Zinn and Daniel Ellsberg, among others, he was also a serious political activist.  After serving as a bomber pilot in the Pacific in World War II, he managed the 1948 presidential campaign of Progressive Party candidate Henry Wallace from Berkeley, CA, his home town, he later was a major organizer of anti-Vietnam War sitins and campus teach-ins and was vice presidential candidate with Eldridge Cleaver in 1968 on the Peace and Freedom ticket.  His best known book was probably Blues for America (1997).  He taught at Cornell, Berkeley, San Jose State, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Modena in Italy, where he was lecturing until well into his 90s.  His New York Times obituary is here, which has many more details.

I have old and deep personal connections with Doug.  When I was a kid living in Ithaca, NY in the 1950s, his son, Jeff, was my best friend, and I got to know Doug from that perspective.  I came from a conservative family, but Doug spoke directly and openly about his views to me as if I was an adult. Hid kids, Jeff and Jenny, called their parents by theiri first names, Doug and Zirel, the only family where I saw such behavior.  Doug made me aware of many of his views about the nature of the US and its society. I would move away to Madison, Wisconsin in 1963 to enter high school, but I would remain in contact with Doug off and on until quite recently.  I regret that I did not visit him recently when I was in Florence for an extended period, with him living in Bologna, Italy, not far away, where he was living with his third wife, who owned a feminist book store.  He was always honest and direct and forthright in his views and expressions.

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Trump Cutting Deals with Democrats

In Cutting Deals With Trump, Are Democrats Walking Into a Trap?

Over the weekend the mainstream press published a flurry of articles about Donald Trump, the pragmatic independent outsider who has no loyalty to any party and will work with anyone to Get Things Done. This excited reaction was in response to the president’s agreement to raise the debt ceiling and fund disaster relief with the help of Democrats. But that’s nothing compared to the delirium that broke out after he had dinner with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on Wednesday night and the Democrats announced that they had reached agreement to legalize the Dreamers without funding his Big Beautiful Wall.

That would be a big win for the good guys, to be sure. Of course, when it comes to Trump, trusting him on a handshake has rarely turned out to be a wise decision for anyone, so we’ll have to see. Heather Digby Parton

Dan, picked this up on Truthout and sent it to me. Guess I am not the only one who likes to check-out the horse’s mouth for the truth.

Everyday which goes by secures healthcare in the US even though Trump and Repubs have threatened the CSRs and had previously blocked the Risk Corridor Program causing premiums to increase, insurance companies to leave the exchanges, and Coops to go bankrupt. Their actions confuses people as they see premiums increase and believe it is because of the ACA. The increase is still compensated for by an increased subsidy to cover the premium increase. This part is not mentioned and people blame the ACA, which is the objective of Republicans and Trump. Even so and at particular cost risk is the individuals market with those making >400% FPL who are not covered by any subsidy.

A flurry of activity by Republicans could still endanger The ACA using Reconciliation requiring 51 votes. McCain is in on the Graham – Cassidy bill.

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Republicans Think They Can Pull It Off with the ACA and the Budget

On September 7, I pointed out Republicans are preparing Another Assault on the PPACA/ACA in 2017. Republican senators Lindsey Graham S.C. and Bill Cassidy LA are making a last stand in an effort to repeal and replace the ACA by “proposing legislation doing away with many of the subsidies and mandates of the 2010 law. Instead, the Graham – Cassidy Bill would provide block grants to the states to help individuals pay for health coverage.

Graham taking it out of context what Obama said on keeping company healthcare insurance, rolls out his own version of the same except it is mocking Obama. “You can keep the ACA;” however, Republican legislation would make it virtually impossible for dozens of states to continue operating Obamacare without large amounts of state funding. In the short term, the law is designed to penalize states who embraced the ACA and reward states not expanding Medicaid. The legislation stops all of the ACA by repealing the subsidies and substituting their own budgetary subsidies as required under Reconciliation. As Slate’s Jordan Weissmann says, “it’s a bit like walking into somebody’s house, lighting the whole ground floor on fire and telling them, Hey, you can keep living here — if you like it.” It is political revenge being vent on constituents the same as Republicans blocking the Risk Corridor Programs and Trump’s threats to block CSR subsidies applied to premiums by healthcare insurance companies. Some detail on the Republican plan and the impact:

• The new plan favors poorer, older, and less populated parts of the country utilizing its own formula for block grants instead of using the ACA formula to fund the grants. The Graham – Cassidy plan shifts spending to the large states which expanded Medicaid (California and New York) to less populated states refusing to expand Medicaid (Mississippi and Alabama). Some non-expansion states like North Carolina and Florida would also will see less funding as much of the population benefited from premium subsidies. As a whole, the Republican Graham-Cassidy plan punishes states getting more of their residents insured through the ACA.

• The 2% inflation planned increases of block grants would be far less than the inflationary cost of healthcare or insurance. The impact either leaves states to back fill or constituents to make up the difference. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities states the block grants would result in a 34 percent spending cut in comparison to the ACA by 2026. Nine states; California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia would see their federal health-care funding cut in half under the block grant system when compared to the funding received from Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and increased subsidy spending.

• Graham – Cassidy also implements a capita cap which cuts Medicaid expansion state funding by $180 billion over 10 years. The resulting cuts would increase each year reaching $41 billion annually by 2026. A 9 percent cut to total federal Medicaid spending for seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, and other adults (outside of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion) comes into play by 2026. The per capita spending cuts are expected to grow from a 26% cut to Medicaid funding in 2026 to 35% in 2036 according to CBO calculations.

• States will may also be able to eliminate such benefits as maternity and mental healthcare from their plans, impose annual and lifetime limits, and dramatically raise deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs. According to the CBO, states having approximately 50% of the population would take up these damaging waivers. As if this is not enough, Graham and Cassidy are also considering the “Cruz amendment,” which allows insurers to sharply increase premiums to people with pre-existing conditions or deny them coverage altogether. Now whether or not these addition benefit eliminations are budget related and qualify under Reconciliation is something I would wonder about as they do not appear to be budget related.

There is enough time for Republicans to change the ACA and also achieve a new budget going in 2018 (October 1) with Reconciliation instructions for Tax Reform. The Republicans might burn some midnight oil and have short weekends; but, it can be done if they wish to further deny President Obama a legacy and support Trump’s skewed views on race and Obama.

As far as McCain? “Sen. John McCain told the Hill on September 6th, he would support a plan offered by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And McCain later released a statement clarifying his support for the bill in concept, but hasn’t seen a final product.

“While I support the concept of the Graham-Cassidy proposal, I want to see the final legislation and understand its impact on the state of Arizona before taking a position,”

As far as Pelosi and Schumer offering up a solution to the national debt and making it easy for Trump to offer hurricane Harvey Relief. The Democrat relief gesture was humane; however, McConnell says he has a counter measure to the maneuver by Democrats to renegotiate the National Debt in December. Republicans are planning to stick it to Democrats and “all” constituents with a repeal of the ACA and by killing a large percentage of the subsidies. In the end if the repeal does happen, Pelosi and Schumer’s kind hearted display of bi-partisanship will be recognized as the dumbest move Democrats have ever made. They should have waited a week or so to extend the help.

Dan’s comment in an email: “We will see soon enough…I hope you are not prescient.” I hope I am wrong. It is too close to call.

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The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, Uglier, etc. News

The Good: Miami Florida Mayor Tomas Regalado Wants to Discuss Climate Change:

To Donald Trump, “’This is the time to talk about climate change. This is the time that the president and the [Environmental Protection Agency] and whoever makes decision needs to talk about climate change,’ Regalado told the Miami Herald. ‘This is a truly, truly poster child for what is to come.’

‘I don’t want to be political, but the fact of the matter is that this is a lesson that we need protection from nature,’ he added. ‘So, I think this is a lesson for the people to say you know what? We have to be prepared.’”

At the state level, Florida Department of Environmental Protection employees were forbidden form using or discussing the terms “climate change or global warming” as reported in the Miami Herald in 2015. The unofficial policy was put in place when Governor Rick Scott took office in 2011. Scott is not convinced climate changed is caused by human activity.

The Bad: EPA Head Scott Pruitt to CNN, “Not Now”

I guess discussing climate change while hurricane Irma rips through Caribbean islands on its way to Florida is “‘very, very insensitive’ to Floridians.

‘Here’s the issue, to have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm; versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced’ according to Pruitt.

‘[T]o discuss the cause and effect of these storms, there’s the… place (and time) to do that, and it’s not now,’” EPA’s Scott Pruitt said.

The same nonsensical reasoning we hear about gun control except for being a different topic. Republicans never want to discuss what may be the root causes at the time of occurrence as they fear the response. Their real reasoning might be construed as Republicans not giving a damn.

The Ugly: Rush Abandons Palm Beach home after Down Playing Irma

Claiming the danger of hurricane Irma was a giant conspiracy, Conservative Republican Mouthpiece Rush Limbaugh abandons his home in Palm Beach.

As the Go-To Guy on hurricane advice and not a meteorologist, Rush expounds on the fallacies of climate change. “’Because you have people in all of these government areas who believe man is causing climate change, and they’re hell-bent on proving it, they’re hell-bent on demonstrating it, they’re hell-bent on persuading people of it,’

He added later: ‘Another thing I’ve found, folks, these storms, once they actually hit, are never as strong as they’re reported.’

Rush says he will be broadcasting his show as normal. ‘My point to you is, folks, that even though we are all here, we at the EIB Network are all in the crosshairs, we have that bull’s-eye painted, we’re going to be devoted the usual 125% of this program to you.’”

Rush’s hurricane show promoted as an “epic battle between two big winds,” three days later, Rush abandoned his home post for places unknown (security reasons as the hurricane might follow him) stating he would take up broadcasting his show later.

Uglier: GOP is Mad Trump Struck a Deal for Hurricane Relief

President Donald Trump ignored seething Republicans and made good on his deal with Democrats, signing legislation that links $15.3 billion in disaster aid to an increase in the U.S. borrowing limit.

The law is a first installment in replenishing depleted federal emergency coffers. Trump signed it Friday as Hurricane Irma approached Florida and as Texas picks up the pieces after the devastation of Harvey. All 90 votes in opposition were cast by Republicans, some of whom hissed and booed administration officials who went to Capitol Hill to defend the package.

Conservative Republicans were upset that Trump cut the disaster-and-debt deal with Democratic leaders with no offsetting budget cuts.”

No turning over a new leaf here either. GOP Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina complained of increasing debt. I wonder how he would feel if Irma went up the east coast rather than the west coast of Florida?

The Ugliest: God Did It!

Never mind pollution being the culprit in causing environmental issues and a warming of the earth. “’God sent the incredibly destructive and devastating Hurricane’s Harvey and Irma as divine punishment for our collective sins and to teach us ‘humility’” according to Kirk Cameron.

The Fake News or Alternative Facts Version: Tucker Carlson Reporting

“The analysis, conducted by Media Matters, shows that hosts and guests on Fox News and InfoWars propagated thinly-veiled stories about looters in Houston despite the city’s police department itself stating that “looting [was] almost non existent” during Harvey. The city reported 14 arrests on August 30 — a low number, the analysis notes, for a metropolitan area of more than six million people.

Nevertheless, Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson had Republican congressional candidate Dan Bongino, a former police officer, on his show on August 30 to discuss the issue.

The Dumb: Sorry, I had to Include this One!

Two conservative House Republicans from North Carolina (the capitol of redistricting and gerrymandering) signed a brief asking for the end of political gerrymandering. They now say they signed the amicus brief by accident. The Raleigh News and Observer reported on Friday.

Republican Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), both conservative House members, signed a high-profile amicus brief for a Supreme Court case out of Wisconsin, urging the court to rule against gerrymandering.”

It was all a misunderstanding according to their staff!

Good Night!

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It’s a hoax says Limbaugh

Think Progress reports:

Limbaugh did not recant his earlier statements about Irma, and he did not encourage his listeners in the area to evacuate. In fact, Limbaugh seemed to even double down on his earlier views.

“The views expressed by the host of this program [are] documented to be almost always right 99.8 percent of the time,” Limbaugh said right before announcing he would be leaving South Florida for parts unknown. “There is a reason for that because we engage in a relentless and unstoppable pursuit of the truth and we find and proclaim it and that happens to drive people crazy.”

On his show Tuesday, Limbaugh said he was reading the paths of the hurricane and was certain it would curve into the Atlantic, and even if it did so, Limbaugh said “official” meteorologists and the media would have accomplished their goal.

“If it ends up not hitting where you are, hits somewhere else, you might temporarily breathe a sigh of relief, but you’re still gonna think, ‘Man, there might be something to this climate change,” Limbaugh said. “Do not doubt me, with everything being politicized, of course it is an objective of some, not everybody, of course, but some of the people involved here.”

Even Big Water was in on the conspiracy, Limbaugh concluded, as people were stocking up on cases of bottled water for the storm that wouldn’t come when they could just use the water coming out of their taps.

Limbaugh’s hurricane denialism came just a week after Vice President Mike Pence joined Limbaugh on the show to discuss Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, but, at any rate, Limbaugh seems to have stopped believing his own conspiracy.

As CNN security analyst Juliette Kayyem noted, Limbaugh has a large audience—his show reaches 15 million people per week—and many of his listeners believe his theories. While Limbaugh evacuates, others may stay behind in part because he wrote off the storm as a conspiracy.

Limbaugh did not respond to requests for comment about where he will be going.

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