Medicare For All Saves Trillion$

Says who? The Koch Brothers…

A new report – from an unlikely source – now underscores the obvious truths about medical care for all, one of the most troubling underlying issues of the day and certainly for November’s mid-term elections. The libertarian-leaning Mercatus Center report lays out the overall costs of medical care for the country over the next decade or so and tries to deal intelligently with getting that overall cost under better control.

In the report, the author attempts to roughly score Sen. Bernie Sanders’ most recent Medicare for All bill and reached the somewhat surprising (for Mercatus) conclusion that if the bill were enacted the new costs would be more than offset by the new savings it generates through administrative efficiencies and reductions in unit prices…Along the way, 30 million additional Americans would be covered while saving billions of dollars.

RTFA. No doubt conservatives and libertarians are embarrassed by math and facts getting in the way of ideology. That hasn’t stopped from otherwise doing their damndest to interfere with working folks trying to reorder the politics of our society to better provide for a healthy and equitable life.

Donald Trump’s Ignorant Climate Fantasies

❝ Legend holds that King Canute brought his flatterers to the sea to show them that even a king could not command the ocean waves, that the laws of nature are more powerful than the decrees of men. So pity Donald Trump, who really believes that his executive orders can hold back the tides.

Trump is surrounded by cronies rather than flatterers, and they and their foolish, ignorant king believe that by denying climate change they can restore the wealth and glory of coal, oil, and gas. They are wrong. Greed will not reverse human-caused climate change, and Trump’s executive orders will not stop the global process of phasing out coal, oil, and gas in favor of wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, geothermal, and other low-carbon energy sources.

❝ In less than 100 days, we have learned that Trump is a man living in a fantasy world. He issues decrees, barks orders, sends out midnight Tweets, but to no avail. The facts – real ones, not his “alternative” variety – keep intervening. There is physics; there is law; there are courts; there are procedures; and there are voters, only 36% of whom approve of Trump’s job performance. There is also China, which wins technologically and diplomatically from every self-defeating move by the incompetent US president…

❝ Trump’s overriding motivation is to serve the economic interests of the US coal, oil, and gas industries, which provide ample campaign financing and media backing for the Republicans in Congress and in state governments across the country. In short, this is political corruption: government policies in exchange for campaign funds.

ExxonMobil, Chevron, the US Chamber of Commerce, and Koch Industries are all major players, and almost all of the Republican members of Congress are implicated in this disgraceful behavior. They are prepared to look like fools in public – denying climate science and global warming – as long as it keeps the campaign money flowing. Whether or not Trump himself is foolish enough to believe what he says, he knows that his executive orders play into the sweet spot of Republican power.

❝ But, as with so many of Trump’s decisions, there is more bark than bite, more bluster than reality. First, Trump can’t stop the waves, or the rising ocean levels in the case of global warming. The science is real, even if Trump is happy to show off his scientific ignorance.

Second, the world knows it’s real. Every UN member state signed the Paris climate agreement in 2015. The planet has just experienced the hottest three years on record. The oceans are warming dramatically…Trump’s cynicism and ignorance will change no minds and will attract no followers globally…

❝ In the end, we can be amazed at the foolishness of America’s president and the corruption of the US Republican Party. But we should not believe that Trump’s climate fantasies will change global reality or alter the implementation of the Paris climate agreement.

From the gullible character of American voters all the way over to activists who behold the global nature of our nation’s economy and see an ogre – the United States stands to miss out on jobs, fail at much of the world’s struggle to counter climate change. The absence of planetwide respect for our so-called leaders will continue to include a populace so far incapable of mounting successful opposition to the backwards political cabal which owns our government.

Jeff Sachs is right. This won’t stop the world – even if you want to get off at some other bus stop. But, the one step forward under Obama is taking more than two steps backwards under Trump. We’ll be playing catch-up on our domestic playing field for a decade or more. Especially if victory only replaces the wholly corrupt with the mostly inept.

Koch Bros new campaign wants to convince Black folks that dirty fuel is good for them

Fueling U.S. Forward, a public relations operation funded by the Koch brothers, is trying to spread the message that Black people benefit the most from cheap fossil fuels, according to a story in The New York Times. Clean energy, they say, is a threat.

Last month, the group sponsored a toy drive and gospel concert in Richmond, Virginia. The event included a panel discussion on how the holidays were only possible thanks to oil and gas.

What went unsaid, of course, was that people of color are far more likely to be harmed by the fossil fuel industry than helped. They’re more at risk from climate change and pollution and more likely to suffer health problems tied to burning fossil fuels.

Asthma is more common among Black people than white people, partially because they’re more likely to live near coal-fired power plants and other fossil-fuel infrastructure. That’s not exactly because they want those plants in their neighborhoods; it’s because they have less power to fight them.

And on and on. Black communities, Black neighborhoods, can always be certain to receive the “benefits” of walk-in jobs from polluting industries. Same as it ever was.

Scientists have had it with the Federal Coal Program


AP/Matthew Brown

Enough, already.

That’s what 67 prominent scientists are telling Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, whose department is conducting a review of the U.S. program to lease federal lands for coal mining.

“The science is clear: to satisfy our commitment under the Paris Agreement to hold global temperature increase well below 2°C, the United States must keep the vast majority of its coal in the ground,” the scientists, including Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, and James Hansen from Columbia University’s The Earth Institute, wrote in a letter delivered to Jewell on Tuesday. “We urge you to end federal coal leasing, extraction and burning in order to advance U.S. climate objectives and protect public health, welfare and biodiversity.”

More than 40 percent of coal produced in the United States comes from federal lands, under a leasing program that has not been reviewed in more than 30 years.

President Obama announced the review during his State of the Union address in January, and the White House issued a report last month detailing how the American taxpayer is being short-changed by the leasing program. While coal mined on federal lands brings in millions of dollars in revenue, it is far cheaper than coal mined on private land.

But even if the government increased the terms of the leasing program — at present, taxpayers are supposed to get 12.5 percent royalty on federal coal, but audits have shown the real rate is much lower — the price would likely still not account for the environmental and climate impacts of coal mining…

Once again, taxpayers are subsidizing the most reactionary sector of American capitalism. We’re paying these pigs a profit while they continue to destroy the world’s environment.

“If they do give a full and honest look at how the federal coal program is impacting our climate — and with associated harms to public health and biodiversity — then they would have no choice but to permanently end coal leasing on public lands,” Shaye Wolf, climate science director for the Center for Biological Diversity, told ThinkProgress…

By and large, scientists agree that the vast majority of the remaining fossil fuel resources in the world must be left unburned if humankind is going to avoid raising the global temperature and causing catastrophic climate disruption.

Coal mining is certainly incompatible with maintaining a livable climate,” Wolf said.

Coal producers know what their profits do to the environment, to peoples’ lives. Anyone see the Koch Bros living downwind from one of their coal storage yards or coal-powered power generation plants?

Not a chance.

Terrify a child with Republican, know-nothing, climate change inaction figures


Click to enlarge

You’ve likely heard about the new collectibles taking the world by storm: They’re cute, cuddly, and exist only in a virtual world that may be better than the real one. We’re talking about Climate Change Inaction Figures.

A project of the National Geographic Channel’s Years of Living Dangerously, these anti-heroes are known for their blind rejection of facts, logic, and science. All can be acquired via social media and include such conservative thought leaders as: John Boehner, James Inhofe, Mitch McConnell.

A veritable Rogues Gallery of incompetent examples of addiction to fossil fuel.

Supreme Court – at evens – backs EPA over toxic mercury pollution controls


Jim Urquhart/Reuters

A month after it hobbled the Obama administration’s signature regulation on climate change, the Supreme Court declined Thursday to block a different air-pollution rule that seeks to cut toxic emissions from the nation’s power plants.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. rejected a request to stay the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards rule, adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency three years ago to tighten restrictions on a class of harmful pollutants that are byproducts of burning coal.

Roberts refused it rather than waste time hoping to beat a 4 – 4 tie for fossil fuel pimps in state governments.

Roberts’s unilateral ruling means the regulation remains in effect while a legal battle continues over whether the EPA properly weighed costs and benefits in drafting the controversial regulation.

More than 20 states have joined a lawsuit opposing the MATS rule, arguing that the pollution controls mandated by the regulation are too expensive relative to the health benefits…

Coal-burning power plants are the biggest single source of man-made mercury, a neurotoxin that causes damage to the nervous system, particularly in young children. Decades of mercury pollution from coal-burning has contributed to elevated levels of the toxin in fish.

Environmental groups applauded Roberts’s decision as a win for public health.

Conservatives, papier-mâché-populists, will be crying in their beer over this one. Supporting the whinings of clown show-Congressional Republicans, they’ve all lined up to pretend Constitutional responsibilities don’t include SCOTUS appointments. Anymore.

The Koch Bros tears will fall into snifters of Napoleon Brandy. The effect is the same. Lousy governance at the behest of reactionaries sometimes snaps back and bites the bigots.

Feel like reading a book about the Koch Bros? — Yes, they hate it!

Jane Mayer’s remarkable new book makes it abundantly clear that the Kochs, and the closely connected group of billionaires they’ve helped assemble, have spent [million of dollar$] over the past few decades, and that in the process they’ve distorted American politics in devastating ways, impairing the chances that we’ll effectively respond to climate change, reducing voting rights in many states, paralyzing Congress, and radically ratcheting up inequality.

In this election cycle, for instance, the Kochs have publicly stated that they and their compatriots will spend $889 million, more than either the Republican or Democratic parties spent last time around. According to a recent analysis in Politico, their privatized political network is backed by a group of several hundred extremely rich fellow donors who often meet at off-the-record conclaves organized by the Kochs at desert resorts. It has at least 1,200 full-time staffers in 107 offices nationwide, or three and a half times as many as the Republican National Committee. They may be the most important unelected political figures in American history.

As a result, Jane Mayer’s Dark Money — a detailed accounting of their rise and rise — is absolutely necessary reading for anyone who wants to make sense of our politics. Lay aside the endless punditry about Donald’s belligerence or Hillary’s ambition; Mayer is telling the epic story of America in our time. It is a triumph of investigative reporting, perhaps not surprising for a journalist who has won most of the awards her profession has to offer. But she had to cut through the secrecy that these men have carefully cultivated, unraveling an endless list of front groups. And she had to do it despite real intimidation; apparently an arm of what some have called “the Kochtopus” hired private investigators to try to dig up dirt on her personal and professional life, a tactic that failed because there wasn’t any. She’s a pro, and she’s given the world a full accounting of what had been a shadowy and largely unseen force.

I can’t say more than that. I needn’t say more than that. If you’re the book-reading sort – and I hope you still are – get this and give it a read. More equipment in the battle for economic and political democracy in America.

And read the details in the review. A bit more motivation, eh?