Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for October 26th, 2018

Taking a hard (engineering) look at the Tesla 3

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Written by Leisureguy

26 October 2018 at 6:12 pm

Posted in Business, Technology

Tiger nuts are pretty tasty

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I like them because they’re quite high in fiber. More info here. I ordered a bag from Amazon to try. I’ll repeat.

Written by Leisureguy

26 October 2018 at 4:59 pm

Posted in Food, Low carb

Megyn Kelly’s inevitable downfall

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Earlier today I posted a link to Caitlin Flanagan’s March 2017 Atlantic article in which she predicted that Megyn Kelly would fail at NBC. Ms. Flanagan has an Atlantic article up now that pokes through the ashes:

Scarcely 24 hours after stepping on a land mine that she herself had planted, news broke that Megyn Kelly had recently parted ways with her agent, Matt DelPiano of Creative Artists Agency. It wasn’t exactly sporting, because that guy was the hardest-working man in show business. He’s the one who got her $23 million a year for doing a job she’d never done before, and at which she was clearly going to flop. Anyone who’s spent any time watching network morning shows (warm) and Kelly’s Fox News program (cold) knew it would be a disaster. Tone was only one problem. As I wrote last March, NBC was inevitably going to squash what was original about Kelly—a kind of badass conservatism matched with an obvious and quick intelligence—decide that the new version was a bore, and then let her go. The question was: When?

The tactic the network employed is time-honored: As soon as NBC tired of her (which was soon after realizing it had overpaid), it let her destroy herself, and then claimed credit for taking the high road of firing her for the exact kind of racist comment it had decided to overlook when it hired her.

At Fox, Kelly was a uniquely talented broadcaster. Her politics were in line with the network’s, and she had free rein to be as confrontational as she wanted. Before going into television, she had been a prosecutor, and that was how she conducted interviews with people she didn’t like. One of her tricks was to repeatedly bait her guests until they lost their temper, and then to respond with great calm, making the guests look unreasonable. She exuded an excellent kind of TV energy: intense, hyper-focused, always ready to surprise. And then there was her beauty: cold, unapproachable, half Hitchcock blonde and half what Bill Ayers called her after his disastrous interview. Most of all, what was on display was her intelligence, which was riveting to watch. Rachel Maddow reads a script, uninterrupted; Don Lemon shoots fish in a barrel. Megyn Kelly conducted live sparring matches with smart opponents, and no matter what they said, she was ready for it.

How in the world was she going to make the transition to the sunniest corner of morning television, where she was to have her own hour? By uploading some new software. Over two ghastly days last September, as Kelly launched her new show, she let us know that she had logged off her Fox account and signed into NBC.

Standing alone on a bare stage, the woman who’d had several complex interactions with the future president announced, “The truth is, I am kind of done with politics for now.” She said the truth was that “I was missing too much of myself.” Which would somehow be resolved by hosting a morning chat show and adopting a new mission: “to deliver hope and optimism and inspiration and empowerment.” At the end of the episode, she brought a nun onstage and gave her a giant gift card to Ace Hardware so that she could continue her good work. It was like she’d read The Feminine Mystiquebackwards. Or maybe it was just a testament to what people will do for $23 million a year—money that quickly became a questionable investment for NBC. Her ratings were never great and the nighttime newsmagazine that was part of the deal flatlined after a few episodes, never to return.

And then, this Tuesday, came the Halloween-costume remark. It was so short that it was really just a sentence. “But what is racist?” she asked the white guests whom she’d invited on to discuss Halloween costumes. “Truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface at Halloween,” she said in the tone of someone discussing the absurdities of PC culture. And then—as this line of thinking always does—a complaint about the present morphed into a reminiscence about the arcadia of the recent past, her own childhood. “Back when I was a kid, that was okay, as long as you were dressing as a character.”

I’m 10 years older than Kelly. It would have been inconceivable for a child to trick-or-treat in blackface. How could an extremely plugged-in Manhattan media person not know that this was a bizarre thing to say?

It fits into a pattern. At Fox News, she addressed any kids watching with jolly Christmas news: “Santa just is white,” she said.

At Fox, Kelly also had a habit—apparently a crowd-pleasing one—of asking controversial black guests onto her show ostensibly to discuss some anodyne subject, and then in the middle of the interview, suddenly confronting the person about some other topic in an aggressive way, possibly as part of her tactic to throw them off guard. In an interview with the comedian D. L. Hughley, he was surprised by the venom of her assertions. “Wow,” he said mildly, to which she snapped—with real anger—“Don’t wow me.”

Pause now to remember that NBC hired her in full knowledge of her Fox News race-baiting and decided it wasn’t a problem. Ratings über alles.

If she had made the remark about the costumes on Fox News, she probably would have been fine. If she’d made it at the beginning of her time at NBC, the network probably would have helped her make amends. But NBC is tired of Kelly. She’s expensive and her star power is gone. Her comments about blackface were a subject on NBC Nightly News; it seems that her colleagues have also had enough of her. Variety has reported that she was recently in talks with the network about ending the show at the end of the current season and moving into some kind of news job. Now even that might not happen.

Perhaps . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 October 2018 at 4:20 pm

Contrasting Donald Trump’s rhetoric with Donald Trump’s rhetoric

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Written by Leisureguy

26 October 2018 at 3:49 pm

A prescient profile of Megyn Kelly written just as she took the NBC job

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Caitlin Flanagan turns out to have been exactly right. She wrote in the Atlantic in March 2017:

Fox news was founded in 1996, when the entertainment impresario and conservative political consultant Roger Ailes acted on a pair of insights: that most people found television news boring and that a significant number of conservatives didn’t trust it to represent their interests and values fairly. The TV producer in Ailes saw a marketing niche, and the political operative in him saw a direct way of courting voters. Rupert Murdoch owned the network, but Ailes was its intellectual author. In the two decades since, the network has thrived without legitimate competition of any kind. It has proved to be a big tent, sheltering beneath it some excellent reporters but also a collection of blowhards, performance artists, cornballs, and Republican operatives in rehab from political failures and personal embarrassments. With the help of this antic cast, the Fox audience has come to understand something important that it did not know before: The people who make “mainstream” news and entertainment don’t just look down on conservatives and their values—they despise them.

By 2010, the network had become so popular that—according to Gabriel Sherman’s biography, The Loudest Voice in the Room—Ailes added a new goal to the mission: the election of the next president. The team did its best for Mitt Romney, but he lacked both the ability to excite crowds and the blood instinct necessary to “rip Obama’s face off” in the debates, which Ailes believed was essential for victory. Almost as soon as the election ended, Fox News went back to work on the mission, emphasizing a variety of themes, each intended to demonize the left. At the top of the list was the regular suggestion that Barack Obama was an America-hating radical, an elaboration of Glenn Beck’s observation (on Fox) that the president had “a deep-seated hatred for white people.” Other themes included the idea that straight white men were under ever-present threat from progressive policies and attitudes; that Planned Parenthood was a kind of front operation for baby murder; that political correctness had made the utterance of even the most obvious factual statements dangerous; and that the concerns of black America—including, especially, those of the Black Lives Matter movement—were so illogical, and so emotionally expressed, that they revealed millions of Americans to be beyond the reach of reason.

There is zero evidence that Fox was motivated to help Donald Trump over the other Republican candidates, although in retrospect he seems almost the dream candidate of the new agenda, embodying all the signature Ailes moves, right down to ripping off his opponents’ faces and threatening reporters. (“How would you like it,” Ailes once asked the journalist Kurt Andersen, if “a camera crew followed your children home from school?”) We will never know to what extent Fox created or merely reported on the factor that turned out to be so decisive in the election: that to be white and conscious in America was to be in a constant state of rage.

In the middle of all this, feeding clips of ammo into the hot Fox News machine, was Megyn Kelly. To watch her, during one of her interviews on the subject of race and policing, interrupt a black guest to ask her whether she’d ever called white people “crackers” was to see Kelly in action, fired up and ready to go. In some respects, she was an independent actor at Fox, with her own show and ultimate control of its editorial content. But she was also a cog in something turning, and what the great machine ultimately produced was President Donald Trump.

But a funny thing happened as the election season unfolded. Kelly—the darling daughter of the conservative network—began to change before our eyes. She took on some of the most powerful Republican men in the country, including Newt Gingrich (“You know what, Mr. Speaker? I’m not fascinated by sex. But I am fascinated by the protection of women”); Roger Ailes (“I picked up the phone and called Lachlan Murdoch: ‘You need to get your general counsel on the phone’ ”); and Donald Trump himself (“You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals”). Over the summer she joined a group of vocal Hillary Clinton supporters—Lena Dunham, Emma Watson, Kerry Washington, Eva Longoria, and others—to take part in a Sheryl Sandberg initiative called Lean In Together (its name suggestive of Clinton’s own “Stronger Together” motto) that was dedicated to some vague vision of a female utopia.

And she published a best-selling memoir, Settle for More, that buffs away her long history of strongly argued and often principled conservative opinions and emphasizes her handful of progressive ones, packaging herself as an independent. The book never once mentions that the network she worked for is a platform for conservative ideas. Writing a book about a career at Fox without mentioning its conservative agenda is like writing a book about a career at the Vatican without mentioning its Catholic agenda. Kelly, it seemed, was cleaning up her record. Why? The answer came in January, when she announced her big new job at NBC.

That Kelly should have ended her tenure at Fox not just bullied by Trump but threatened by some of his deranged followers (she had to bring an armed guard with her when she took her children to Disney World last spring) falls somewhere between a dark irony and a sick statement of where we are in the year of our Lord 2017. That she should chart a path forward while downplaying her full role in an ugly election that helped fuel her rise hardly marks her as unusual—many on the right are eager to blur the norm-breaking excesses of the recent past. To judge by Kelly’s cover-her-traces strategy, her trajectory also conveys another message: Making the crossover to a major network requires a conservative to change her stripes, which is one reason why so many Americans have lost faith in the mainstream media.

Megyn kelly arrived at Fox at age 33, in 2004, with almost no experience in the field. As a teenager, she had not heeded her mother’s warning that “they don’t give scholarships for cheerleading.” She was popular, boy-crazy, obsessed with her weight, and the shining star of her high-school sorority. She had hoped to attend the fabled Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, but she whiffed the SAT and got rejected. She didn’t turn her back on the “planned pursuits” she had enumerated in her high-school yearbook: “College, government, and wealth.” She enrolled at Syracuse, majored in political science, and fell in love with a lax bro who knew how to encourage this fatherless daughter to be a winner. “You got this, little girl,” he would tell her when she set out to claim another prize.

Kelly decided to go to law school so that she could become a prosecutor “and be respected.” But once again she came up short, rejected this time by Notre Dame, so she packed up her aerobics leggings and Tri-Delt T-shirts and headed back to her girlhood bedroom and the Albany Law School, where a frenemy told her people were calling her Barbie (“Shove it up your ass,” Kelly said when she’d had enough: problem solved). She loved moot court, where she discovered she liked “being ‘on’ in a room”; she also spent too much money and ruined her credit. Public service was not going to put her right with the collection agencies, so she set her heart on Bickel & Brewer, the firm that pioneered “Rambo litigation”:

At twenty-three years old, I loved it. Kill or be killed! We’re not here to make friends, we’re here to win! You sue my client? F— you and your request for an extension! You want a settlement conference? Pound sand! Our offer is screw you!

After a decade in the trenches in New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., making bank and cruising toward partner, Kelly had a little talk with herself: “I am more exciting than this!” she wrote in her journal. “I am more interesting than this! I am more interested than this! I need more out of life!” What she needed, it turned out, was to leave the law and become a TV news reporter. She bought a killer Dolce & Gabbana dress and made a demo tape. (“Only you would spend a thousand dollars to interview for a job that pays seventeen thousand a year!” her first husband said playfully, unaware that he was soon to be moved into the I am more interesting than this! category.) Sure enough, the dress, the tape, and the moxie got her a job moonlighting with Washington’s local ABC affiliate, and soon she was making a run at Fox News, the only major news network that actually prefers to hire reporters with little or no journalistic experience. In short order, she was in Roger Ailes’s office, making a case for herself.

As she tells it, one of the first questions Ailes asked her was  . . .

Continue reading. Read the whole thing. Spot-on.

Written by Leisureguy

26 October 2018 at 11:54 am

How the government treats a Los Alamos Lab employee who got brain cancer

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Rebecca Moss reports in ProPublica:

Chad Walde still looked like himself, handsome in a new, dark blue suit. The tumors that overwhelmed his brain had not distorted his face. A long, winding scar stretching from his jaw to the back of his skull had begun to fade.

His wife, Angela, reached down and placed her hands over her husband’s. His skin felt oddly warm and seemed to shift at her touch. Maybe he could still wake up, Angela Walde thought. She remembered the biblical story of Lazarus’ resurrection. Gently, she shook her husband’s corpse. Get up.

It was a hot Thursday in July 2017, and the crowded Albuquerque church had grown silent as the young widow with long, dark hair stood over the silk-lined casket.

Mourners watched Angela take her seat as pallbearers closed the coffin and pulled an American flag over it.

The photographs and relics of Chad’s life had been laid out on display. A Navy cap. A New York Giants banner. A reflective work vest from Los Alamos National Laboratory. His baby-faced military portrait hung over the coffin.

“We don’t know why Chad left this earth at such a young age,” the pastor said in a slow Texas twang. “When I realized he is only 44, my heart broke. I thought: ‘Oh no. He is so young.’”

That unanswered question — what killed Chad Walde? — nagged at Angela.

There had been other funerals, even that month, for other people who had worked at Los Alamos, one of the nation’s most important nuclear weapons laboratories. Several, like Chad, had died of cancer. Others had thyroid diseases and breathing problems, and they suspected that some of the maladies might stem from contaminated work environments or from the large fire that burned through the vast lab property in 2000. Nobody knew for sure if the illnesses were connected to work at the lab, but they wondered.

For decades, Los Alamos had been criticized for sacrificing workers’ health and safety in the name of atomic progress. In 1999, Bill Richardson, the energy secretary, acknowledged that nuclear sites had concealed information and “sent many of our workers into harm’s way.” He said the government intended to “right the wrongs of the past.” Then, in 2000, Congress passed a compensation act, offering medical benefits and payouts for workers with radiation-related cancers and other occupational ailments. But the government, and Los Alamos in particular, has said that those lapses were in the past, and that they have put in place rules and practices to protect safety. The lab says radiation exposures have been “consistently recorded” over many decades.

Despite these pledges, Chad and his co-workers said safety problems continued. They witnessed accidents and heard the sudden, unexpected blare of radiation alarms. They watched crews come in to decontaminate buildings and run radiation detectors over their hands and feet. They had their limbs scrubbed and clothing replaced. Sometimes days would pass before anyone realizedcontamination had spread. Many workers say their memories of poor work conditions and high personal radiation readings don’t match the government’s scant records.

In addition to Chad, at least four others on his maintenance crew had been diagnosed with cancer in the past five years.

Before his death, Chad filed a claim for federal benefits, joining more than 1,400 people who said they became sick from radiation exposure for work done within the last 20 years at the lab, according to data obtained by the Santa Fe New Mexican under the Freedom of Information Act. An additional 335 dead workers also had claims filed on their behalf.

Angela would later discover that Chad’s personnel file contained little mention of the radiation exposures and no record of the safety scares her husband had told her about over the years.

Now, in the church, she listened to the country music playing softly and to the minister in prayer. After his treatments, Chad would laugh and tell his friends, “I get more radiation sitting in my office at Los Alamos.” Even when he was suffering and in pain, he would smile and say he was living the dream.

Looking at his closed coffin, Angela wished she could go back 18 years and tell him to find a different job, far from laboratories and nuclear weapons.


II

A New Career, and the Risk of Radiation

On his first day of work N HIS FIRST DAY OF WORK AT LOS ALAMOS, Chad Walde got dressed in the dark. It was the fall of 1999 and a week before his 27th birthday. The drive from Albuquerque to Los Alamos took nearly two hours, and as he got on the highway in a small, white Ford Escort, just after 5 a.m., the hulking peaks of the Sandia Mountains would have been cast in silhouette.

The town of Los Alamos was just beginning to stir around the time he arrived. Log cabins preserved from the government’s military takeover during World War II mingled with modern buildings. The roads had been named after famous scientists and atomic testing grounds. Trinity Drive. Bikini Atoll Road. Oppenheimer Drive. Gamma Ray. When he reached the white laboratory gates, lines of cars had already begun to form, each stopping at booths to present armed guards with ID.

Inside, Chad was issued a special Z number, unique to each employee at Los Alamos, which would become a proxy for his identity there. In the days to come, he underwent several medical exams and was asked to detail any prior exposure to 81 hazardous radionuclides, explosives, chemicals, gases or lab animals. He circled no to each. He wasn’t perfect: He smoked, drank intermittently and, for a man over 6 feet tall, was overweight. A doctor found no abnormalities on his head, eyes, heart, lungs, thyroid, limbs or spine. His bloodwork came back normal.

Chad was still adjusting to life as a civilian. He had left the Navy four months earlier and moved his family back to Albuquerque, where he’d been working odd jobs as an electrician. After four years on the USS Lake Champlain, sailing to ports in the Middle East and Asia, Chad still missed the sea, the way the sun turned red as it set in the middle of the ocean. Now, he’d be working at a hallowed place. And, making $22 per hour, he’d earn more than he ever had in his life.

Chad knew about the lab’s historic role in creating the first atomic bombs, but little else. He didn’t know that its nuclear mission had come with a human toll.

Employees of the complex had long complained of health problems, but quietly, often only to friends and families. Speaking ill of the lab was considered by some as anti-American, and some whistleblowers said they were often ostracized by colleagues and pushed out or fired for reporting problems. Most who’ve sought state workers’ compensation over the years for illnesses they attributed to their work at the lab have had their claims aggressively challenged in court.

Out of a fear of liability, the famed nuclear scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, who served as the lab’s first director, mandated that health records be labeled top secret, according to a memo written by his colleague in 1946 and declassified in the 1990s.

The Department of Energy, and its predecessor agency, the Atomic Energy Commission, understood safety and health problems at the laboratory to be a liability — one that could cause a PR nightmare and shut the project down.

This began to change in the late 1980s and early 1990s. As the Cold War drew to a close, the Department of Energy said it was committed to transparency. Facing growing public and congressional pressure and legal action, it began looking into conditions throughout the nuclear weapons complex. A team of 150 inspectors was sent to Los Alamos after managers at a nuclear facility in Colorado were charged with environmental crimes — a type of plutonium used to make nuclear weapon triggers had wafted from the factory into the outside air and was found at homes near the plant.

At Los Alamos, investigators found widespread radioactive contamination. Nuclear waste had been dumped into open pits and canyons around the lab. Workers had not been properly monitored for radiation exposure or other health problems. Indeed, the University of California system — which had run the lab since the 1940s — kept poor track of health, safety and environmental problems, inspectors found.

By 1991, the lab’s mandate for secrecy began to crack. More than 150 workers and members of the public called a hotline to recount accidents and concerns: about being injured while working with chemicals, working in poorly ventilated areas with hazardous gases, and a lack of training and monitoring around radiation.

Many had concerns about cancer. One caller shared information about a public meeting in Los Alamos. “The caller expressed concern about the role occupational health provided the people who had cancer,” the log said, “but the cancer was not discovered until the terminal stages.”

Additional public fears prompted the Department of Energy to fund a study. Published two years later, it found a modest increase in brain and nervous system cancers in Los Alamos County, compared with the rest of the state. It recommended further study but officials later decided it was unnecessary, and a follow-up study only examined thyroid cancer.

The ‘90s would see two major strides for workers’ welfare within the nuclear weapons complex. In 1991, the Department of Energy began to draft new rules for how sites should protect workers, formalizing monitoring requirements for nuclear workers “likely” to be at risk and setting limits for the amount of radiation to which workers could be exposed.

Then, in the late ‘90s, the Clinton administration acknowledged for the first time that the Department of Energy had failed to protect workers from radiation and chemical exposure at the laboratories and factories used to build the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Records had been destroyed or falsified. A multi-agency report on the prevalence of occupational diseases found current and former workers could be “at increased risk of illness” from these exposures and the “physical hazards associated with the production of nuclear weapons.”

At Los Alamos, the report found a “statistically significant” increase in cancers of the esophagus, lungs, kidney and brain — as well as for lymphocytic leukemia and Hodgkin’s lymphoma — among workers.

The problems made national news, but Chad, working on a Navy ship in San Diego, didn’t see the headlines.

The Clinton administration’s reforms were meant to take effect in 1996, and violations of these rules were punishable by civil and criminal penalties. Three years before Chad began his job, Los Alamos said it was complying.


III

In Catastrophic Fire, Hidden Dangers

Six months after he began work, Chad was thrust into one of the most daunting scares in the lab’s history.

On the first Thursday in May 2000, officials from the U.S. Forest Service started what was meant to be a small, 900-acre fire in a crescent-shaped part of Bandelier National Monument below the town of Los Alamos and its sister community of White Rock.

The fire was set to prevent more major fires. But the Forest Service had forgotten to account for the wind, a report later found. Gusts picked up to more than 20 miles an hour, throwing embers more than a mile away into Los Alamos Canyon.

When Chad arrived at work the following Monday, the fire had spread to 3,000 acres, well beyond the Forest Service’s control. His supervisor sent him home, along with all nonessential personnel. Thousands of evacuees relocated to gymnasiums-turned-shelters in Santa Fe.

Residents and elected officials worried what would happen if the fire — called Cerro Grande, after the name of the highest peak in Bandelier — engulfed nuclear materials stored at the lab.

While the fire was still burning, the New Mexican reported on a study, quietly published by the Department of Energy in 1997, that found a wildfire on lab property could release radioactive smoke that would expose nuclear workers to a radiation dose 135 times the allowable annual limit and affect people within a 50-mile radius. The study also said a tritium facility on the lab’s west side, where radioactive isotopes of hydrogen and other explosives were processed, was among the most vulnerable sites.

By 11 p.m. Wednesday, just hours after the last residents were evacuated from Los Alamos, a brush fire swept through the area surrounding the tritium facility, just as the study said it might. Firefighters would later recall being told to protect certain buildings “at all cost” and how flames transformed unnaturally into violent shades of colors as “different materials burned.”

“We were not monitored during the fire,” one worker later recalled at a public meeting held to help federal officials learn about the hazards and exposure risks that existed at Los Alamos over time, “even though those areas contained wastes from almost 60 years.”

But lab spokesmen maintained everything was safe. All nuclear waste and bomb-making materials were buried or kept in concrete tankers, they said. The Environmental Protection Agency flew planes overhead to measure the air for radiation. Air quality monitors were placed around the town. And more than 1,000 firefighters were on the ground, night and day.

Any radiation detected, officials would later say, was primarily from natural radon burning off plant life.

Two weeks later, Chad returned to work. He recently had been promoted, and his new role placed him in the field with a crew of maintenance workers. Nearly 40 percent of the lab property and a total of 48,000 acres in the area had burned, making Cerro Grande the largest fire in the state’s history at the time.

The air was still hazy with smoke when the maintenance crews were brought in to check the safety of the buildings and unjam air monitors and fire alarms that were clogged with debris, Chad remembered. The electricity had been off for weeks, and inside, the walls were coated with ash, making the hallways look like tunnels.

As Chad moved through the scorched campus, he noticed some workers had small badges pinned to their chests that recorded their radiation exposure on thin chips, half the size of a pinky nail.

But Chad said he and several other men on his crew had not been issued badges like this. Many of the firefighters later reported the same thing to federal officials at public meetings. Chad said he also had not gone through the radiation training course, federally required for lab workers who might be exposed to radiation.

“We didn’t care who had what monitoring or training,” Chad would later recall in an interview, about the crew he went out with during the fire. “Back then I didn’t have a TLD,” he said, referring to the badge, called a thermoluminescent dosimeter, by an acronym.

Independent scientists hired by the state of New Mexico, as well as experts hired by the federal government, would later question what had burned during the fire and if there were sufficient air, soil and other environmental samples taken to know for certain what workers had been exposed to. A toxicologist at the University of New Mexico said scientists also didn’t have enough information on the impact of low doses of metals and radiation in the body to know what the health effects might be over time.

In 2001, Chad was issued the special TLD badge and went through the first level of a radiation training course. Only then did he think back to the fire, to the thick smoke, and the memory stuck like a pin. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by Leisureguy

26 October 2018 at 11:24 am

Republicans are lying about nearly all their major policies. Why?

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Catherine Rampell writes in the Washington Post:

Republicans have mischaracterized just about every major policy on their agenda. The question is why. If they genuinely believe their policies are correct, why not defend them on the merits?

Consider the GOP tax cuts. Last year, Republicans said their bill would primarily benefit the middle class, pay for itself and raise President Trump’s taxes, among other claims.

Not one of these contentions is remotely true.

A more honest defense — and one occasionally revealed via accidentally-told-the-truth Kinsley gaffes — might have been something like: We want to let rich people keep more of their money, regardless of the cost to Uncle Sam. We want this both because we (unlike most of the public) think that’s fair, and also because our donors are demanding a return on their investment in us. Plus, maybe it’s a good thing to reduce government revenue; that gives us motivation to “starve the beast” and cut the safety net, which we think is a drag on the economy that protects people from the consequences of their poor life choices.

Likewise with family separations, a policy Trump is considering reviving.

In the spring, the administration systematically ripped immigrant children from their mothers’ breasts with no plan for tracking where they ended up or how to reunite these families. The rationale, as gaffingly revealed by White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, was that such cruelty would deter asylum seekers.

But when voters recoiled, the administration explained things differently. Officials alternately lied that the policy was designed to help children, was actually a Democratic policy or didn’t exist at all.

Lately, the biggest GOP lies involve health care — the top midterm issue for voters — and especially how Republicans would treat Americans with costly medical issues.

The public has had ample opportunity to learn where Republicans stand on protections for those with preexisting conditions. The party spent the past eight years, after all, trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, including these particular (very popular) provisions.

And while Republicans failed to repeal Obamacare legislatively, they’ve found other means to undermine its protections.

For instance, the Trump administration has expanded the availability of junk insurance. These cheap plans look like regular insurance but actually cover little to no care, something you would notice only if you read the fine print. Such policies are not required to accept enrollees with preexisting conditions or to pay claims related to preexisting conditions — even if the preexisting illness hadn’t even been diagnosed at the time of enrollment.

These policies threaten coverage another way, too. Because they siphon young, cheap and healthy people off the Obamacare exchanges, they drive up prices on (real) insurance and thereby put coverage further out of reach for people who are sicker and older.

On Monday, the administration issued new regulatory guidance that will effectively allow states to nudge more people into these junk plans. And that’s just one of many measures the administration has taken that will destabilize the individual marketplaces and jack up unsubsidized premiums for people with preexisting conditions.

There’s clearly appetite among state-level Republicans to roll back such protections, too.

In fact, 20 red states have sued the federal government, arguing that Obamacare, including its preexisting-condition protections, is unconstitutional. Administrations are supposed to defend laws passed by Congress, but on these provisions, the Trump administration has refused.

And yet, Trump continues to argue that “Republicans will totally protect people with Pre-Existing Conditions, Democrats will not!”

When Trump made this claim at a rally in Wisconsin, he was echoed by Gov. Scott Walker (R), who urged the crowd: “Don’t believe the lies. We will cover people with preexisting conditions.”

This despite the fact that Walker authorized his own attorney general to join that 20-state lawsuit. But Walker is far from alone. Across the country, Republican politicians shamelessly conceal their track record on this issue.

Once again, rather than misrepresenting their own positions, Republicans could try to defend them on the merits.

For instance, they might argue that in their ideal capitalist society, it’s not government’s job to shield Americans from the financial risks of serious health conditions. Every man (or woman) is an island, responsible for his or her own health care. If expensive illnesses befall some unlucky members of society, and they lacked the foresight or haven’t saved enough to plan for this risk on their own, then too bad. Life ain’t fair.

You might wonder if maybe Republican politicians are mischaracterizing so many of their own positions because they don’t fully understand them. But given that Republican leaders have occasionally blurted out their true motives — on taxes, immigration and, yes, even health care — this explanation seems a little too charitable. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 October 2018 at 11:07 am

Omega Pro 48 and Tcheon Fung Sing

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I haven’t used my Pro 48 (10048) for a while, but I find I still like it and for me it works fine for face lathering. I loaded it well with Tcheon Fung Sing’s Tobacco Verde, and the Charcoal razor did a workmanlike job on the stubble. A splash of Floïd and we’re on the threshold of the weekend. Yay.

Written by Leisureguy

26 October 2018 at 9:14 am

Posted in Shaving

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