Did anyone else notice the title of the Republican health care plan?

The actual, real, serious, honest-to-god name of the bill is…

H.R.1275 – World’s Greatest Healthcare Plan of 2017

I’m not joking. Look it up.

They informatively explain to us that This Act may be cited as the “World’s Greatest Healthcare Plan of 2017”.

I’m dying. Our representatives have the maturity of two year olds.

“Let them eat cake” translated perfectly into modern English idiom

Thank God for Jason Chaffetz. He’s perfect. He’s such an excellent representative of the Republican party. About the fact that the Republican replacement plan for ACA is more expensive and enriches the wealthy, he says,

You know what, Americans have choices, and they’ve got to make a choice. And so maybe, rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and want to go spend hundreds of dollars on, maybe they should invest in their own health care.

There are facts that illustrate how clueless his argument is.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average premium for an individual health care plan in the United States is just over $235 per month. Buying an iPhone 7 through a wireless carrier and paying for it in installments over a two-year period costs $27 per month.

But for now, just set aside the facts — Republicans don’t care about them anyway — and savor the flawless Marie Antoinette-ness of the moment. And remember what happened to Marie.

It is disturbing that the news is all Russia all the time

I agree that the administration’s Russian connection ought to be pursued, but I am not happy that that is being treated as the primary reason to delegitimize Donald Trump. The man is a destructive incompetent with a fist full of bad policies, and the most effective way to bring him down is to expose the fact that his campaign staff talked to the Russian ambassador? What? Have you looked at what he is doing to the country right now? Because there is a whole lot of crap going down while we’re busy looking for Russians under the bed.

For instance, look at his proposed budget for the EPA.

  • Puget Sound. Funding for restoration work in the country’s second-largest estuary would be cut from $28 million to $2 million.
  • The Great Lakes. Funding to combat algae blooms, invasive species and other water pollution problems in the world’s largest group of freshwater lakes would be cut from $300 million to $10 million.
  • The Chesapeake Bay. Funding for restoration in the country’s largest estuary would be cut from $73 million to $5 million.
  • Research on endocrine disruptors. The EPA’s work studying chemicals that can interfere with the body’s reproductive and developmental systems would nearly be eliminated, dropping from $7.5 million to $445,000.
  • Diesel emissions. Since 2008, the EPA has issued grants to accelerate the country’s transition from old, dirty diesel engines to cleaner burning trucks and equipment. They’ve been responsible for most of Oregon’s progress in addressing cancer-causing diesel soot, a major air pollution source.
  • Beach water quality testing. The EPA spends about $9.5 million to fund state testing of bacteria levels at beaches around the country. In Oregon, it funds state testing during the summer. That would be eliminated.
  • The U.S.-Mexico border. Sewage and garbage from Mexico frequently sweeps into San Diego during winter rainstorms. The EPA has funded work there to slow the flood of garbage into the Pacific Ocean. Its program to address problems like that would be cut from $3 million to $275,000.
  • Environmental education. The EPA spends $8.7 million annually on programs to educate children. Spending on them would be cut to $555,000.

Meanwhile, he’s increasing the bloated defense budget by 10%, and covering that by cutting other programs, like education.

These are standard Republican policies. Are we planning to rely on finding Russian connections in order to get rid of bad stewards of our country’s resources forevermore? Because you know that most of the Republican congress is going to be untainted by Russians, but is still going to be promoting these same bad ideas.

There is no single reason to rise up and throw these assholes out — they’ve provided an embarrassment of causes that make them terrible leaders, which is part of the problem, that the reasons for taking action have been diffused so widely. It seems to me that our targeting is off when conversations with Russian diplomats become the strongest reason for investigating the president, rather than his habit of appointing incompetents and looters like DeVos and Pruitt to run major government agencies.

Humans are stupid

Kathy Watson is stupid. She has diabetes, high blood pressure, and two cancers. Her husband lost his job, she lost her health insurance, and because of her pre-existing condition, no one was going to insure her at a reasonable rate…until the Affordable Care Act came along.

She voted for Trump.

Yeah, you know that was going to be the kicker. She voted for Trump.

Watson also voted for Donald Trump, believing the businessman would bring change. She dismissed his campaign pledges to scrap the Affordable Care Act as bluster.

Jesus Christ, Ms Watson, but you are a dumbass. Not only did you make a choice that is probably going to kill you, you made a choice that is going to wreck our country.

Also, LA Times and every other goddamn newspaper on Earth, I’m getting more than a little tired of these inane stories written to squeeze out a little sympathy for Trump voters. They’re not working. I have no sympathy for the Kathy Watsons of the USA, and all you’re doing is convincing me that humanity doesn’t deserve any more chances.

Jeez, I know where that happened

Yet another hate crime, something becoming increasingly common it seems, but it’s strange to see a racist shooting near where I grew up.

Kent police are searching for a gunman they say opened fire in the East Hill neighborhood.
Officers say the victim, a Sikh man, was in his driveway working on his car Friday around 8 p.m. when another man approached him and began yelling, “Go back to your own country.”

They give the address, which gave me a start — it was a familiar neighborhood. It was actually near where my girlfriend lived, up past the top of James Hill (I made so many rubber-legged treks up that monstrous hill). I can’t even imagine this sort of crime happening 30 years ago.

It takes a firm hand

We just got back from the Indivisible meeting in Glenwood, and it was…interesting. There was a good crowd of 40 or 50 people, I think, and there were a few protesters with their big blue “Trump/Pence” signs, and they did something clever. There were a handful of them easily spotted because of their signs, but there were a bunch more that blended in with the attendees, so that when we went around the room introducing ourselves and explaining our interests, we’d have 3 or 4 people who’d talk about the environment, or hostile immigration policies, or health care, or LGBTQ rights, and then we’d hit some gomer salted into the audience who’d whine at us. I think they had 3 primary arguments, and they were: 3) I hate big government and taxes, 2) the authoritarian “he’s our president, so we have to support him no matter what”, and 1) JESUS and the decline of our morality. It was aggravating. The organizers, Jeannette and Glen, handled it just right, though. Here they are:


They let them speak! They got a minute or two, just like everyone else, and then they’d firmly insist on moving on to give the next person a chance. You can tell that chapped their hides, because at the end a couple of them demanded an opportunity to go on at greater length, and they just shut them down politely and insisted that we stick to the agenda. Good work. I was impressed. That’s how to get it done efficiently and get it done on time.

Then the meeting ended and, well, you know me. I’m a kook magnet. In the introduction I’d mentioned that I was a biologist, so a kook homed in on me afterwards. He thinks global warming is nothing to worry about.

So he told me he had a friend who was a submariner, and he said they sometimes got CO2 concentrations as high as 5,000ppm, (current CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is about 400ppm), and they were fine. The scientists don’t want you to know about that. To which I told him I’ve taught physiology, we go all over the partial pressure calculations, and we know that partial pressure of CO2 in the tissues easily gets around 40mm Hg, or about 60,000 ppm, so as long as you’re below that, you can offload metabolically produced CO2, although with decreasing efficiency, so yes we certainly do know all that basic stuff. Do you think the scientists and engineers who put people in submarines are unaware of the limits of tolerance to atmospheric gasses?

Besides, this isn’t about how much CO2 you can safely breath, it’s about the accumulation of greenhouse gasses causing global warming.

So he changed the topic. Of course. If you show the slightest sign that you know what you’re talking about, they flee.

Next, he asks me if I know what is in a can of Coke. I’m not sure where this is going, but I tell him flavorings, colorings, and carbonic/phosphoric acid. Yes, he announces triumphantly, and do you know what happens when you open a can of Coke? “It…fizzes?”, was my reply. Do you think the acid sinks to the bottom and forms a layer? NO! It escapes into the air! Ocean acidification is a lie! It can’t happen!

“Have you ever heard of the concept of equilibrium…”

Scientists are all liars! They’re idiots!

I’d had about enough of this raving nutcase. So I told him we were done with this conversation, good bye, move along. I was trying to follow the example of our organizers, but no, it wasn’t enough.

The Coke can makes it obvious! Scientists are all lying to us!

“Done. Stop. Go away, you’re a kook.”


So I just told him, firmly to fuck off. It took a couple of tries before he did, finally, wander away.

These goons really have no idea of what boundaries are, let alone science.

Never, ever threaten a librarian

A nearby Indivisible group in Glenwood announced that they are having an information meeting today, at 10am, at the Glenwood library. This is good, I’m glad that these grassroots groups are springing up everywhere.

However, this group got threats. The Tea Partiers in the area are planning to descend upon their meeting.

The librarian was threatened if they didn’t cancel the meeting.

That last bit cannot be allowed. Many of us Indivisible associated people are going to express our solidarity by also showing up, so we’re bustling out the door this morning for a nice day in lovely Glenwood, on the shores of Lake Minnewaska. I’m bringing a camera. Lake views on a sunny day are so nice, aren’t they?


Good grief, it’s embarrassing to be an American

Woke up this morning to learn that the current president* is tweeting out serious allegations against Obama.

And then, to top it all off…TV ratings.

Take his phone away and put that child on a timeout.

Phonies and frauds

What kinds of people want impose their will on academia? Mainly it seems to be bozos who know nothing at all about it. Take a look at the guy who wants to impose political quotas on faculty hires.

An Iowa lawmaker who is pushing a controversial bill that caps the number of Democrats that state universities can hire as professors claimed on a government web site that he got a “business degree” from the “Forbco Management school.”

But State Sen. Mark Chelgren’s alleged alma mater is actually a company that operated a Sizzler steak house franchise in southern California and he doesn’t have a “degree,” Ed Failor, a spokesman for the Iowa State Republicans, told NBC News.

“This was a management course he took when he worked for Sizzler, kind of like Hamburger University at McDonald’s,” Failor said. “He got a certificate.”


Clearly, this genius is outraged at the injustice of not being able to get a faculty appointment at the Harvard neurology department because he’s Republican, and was forced to take his second choice position, learning how to flip steaks for Sizzler.

I’m going to suggest that instead of wrecking Iowa state colleges, he instead use his prestigious qualifications to work for one of Donald Trump’s restaurants.

We had a nice century

That run is over, though. Read this article in the Atlantic about the wreckage of the State Department. It’s rather depressing.

“They really want to blow this place up,” said the mid-level State Department officer. “I don’t think this administration thinks the State Department needs to exist. They think Jared [Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law] can do everything. It’s reminiscent of the developing countries where I’ve served. The family rules everything, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs knows nothing.”

Kleptocracy and nepotism. It is very banana republic.

Goodbye, United States of America.

“This is probably what it felt like to be a British foreign service officer after World War II, when you realize, no, the sun actually does set on your empire,” said the mid-level officer. “America is over. And being part of that, when it’s happening for no reason, is traumatic.”

And to think, all this is at the hands of the uber-patriotic Republicans and their flag-waving electorate.