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September 29, 2017


I'm not saying Trump's spiteful attempts to sabotage Obamacare aren't reprehensible, but maybe the problem is that all this was needed to make the damn thing work in the first place:

In Michigan, some groups tasked with enrolling people in health care coverage, so-called navigators, saw budget reductions up to 90 percent. Inside the state, officials were left to scramble as this cycle's enrollment period fast approaches.

Some Michigan organizations have cut their entire staffs and dialed back substantially on community outreach efforts. Others have turned to college interns for help signing people up for insurance on ACA exchanges. In some cases, a number of counties will now simply not receive assistance from navigator programs, leaving it up to people to sift through often complex insurance-purchasing decisions, if they make that decision at all.

By fnord12 | September 29, 2017, 11:24 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

The (LA) Times they are a changin'

Pretty interesting to see a Modern Monetary Theory proponent getting an Op Ed at a major newspaper.

You don't have to accept MMT in order to think we can expand government services - especially for things like Medicare For All - and i don't even think this article is using MMT per se. But Stephanie Kelton is probably the MMT advocate. And her appearance here is a good start to rebalancing the "government budget should be treated like a household budget" fallacy.

By fnord12 | September 29, 2017, 11:12 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

September 28, 2017

Retweeting isn't normal

This is insane. It's so obviously insane that i should be confident that the judge will throw it away, but that relies on the judge being aware of how the internet works.

I know we have much bigger problems, but i wish we lived in a world where congress could get things done and were capable of updating laws for the internet era.

By fnord12 | September 28, 2017, 10:23 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

September 25, 2017

New Vegan Brownie Test Batch

A friend got me the America's Test Kitchen Vegan for Everybody cookbook so i tested out the brownies recipe.

vegan brownies

I swirled half of the pan with peanut butter just for some variety. Although it's named "Fudgey Brownies", they came out more cakey than fudgey, imo. Still good though, using 3 different sources for the chocolate - cocoa powder, baking squares, and chocolate chips - and super rich. You might want to get some vanilla ice cream or a glass of cold "milk" to go with it.

I think i'll try to merge this recipe to the one i have been using to come up with a perfect fudgey brownie recipe.

By min | September 25, 2017, 11:06 PM | Boooooks & Vegan Vittles| Link

September 16, 2017

Is there anything we can't fuck up?

The Great Nutrient Collapse:

When the researchers shined more light on the algae, the algae grew faster, and the [zooplankton] had lots and lots to eat--but at a certain point they started struggling to survive. This was a paradox. More food should lead to more growth. How could more algae be a problem?

...The biologists had an idea of what was going on: The increased light was making the algae grow faster, but they ended up containing fewer of the nutrients the zooplankton needed to thrive. By speeding up their growth, the researchers had essentially turned the algae into junk food.

...it's been understood for some time that many of our most important foods have been getting less nutritious. Measurements of fruits and vegetables show that their minerals, vitamin and protein content has measurably dropped over the past 50 to 70 years. Researchers have generally assumed the reason is fairly straightforward: We've been breeding and choosing crops for higher yields, rather than nutrition, and higher-yielding crops--whether broccoli, tomatoes, or wheat--tend to be less nutrient-packed.

In 2004, a landmark study of fruits and vegetables found that everything from protein to calcium, iron and vitamin C had declined significantly across most garden crops since 1950. The researchers concluded this could mostly be explained by the varieties we were choosing to grow.

Loladze and a handful of other scientists have come to suspect that's not the whole story and that the atmosphere itself may be changing the food we eat. Plants need carbon dioxide to live the same way humans need oxygen. And in the increasingly polarized debate about climate science, one thing that isn't up for debate is that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is rising.

...as the zooplankton experiment showed, greater volume and better quality might not go hand-in-hand. In fact, they might be inversely linked. As best scientists can tell, this is what happens: Rising CO2 revs up photosynthesis, the process that helps plants transform sunlight to food. This makes plants grow, but it also leads them to pack in more carbohydrates like glucose at the expense of other nutrients that we depend on, like protein, iron and zinc.

By fnord12 | September 16, 2017, 1:17 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

So much for Moon

I guess South Korea has the same problem as us, where no one can beat the military complex.

By fnord12 | September 16, 2017, 11:57 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

September 15, 2017

That makes more sense

Just an update on this. Finally got the roll call. My terrible Senator Menendez did not vote to repeal the amendment. He just did not vote (because he is on trial for corruption).

min: *snort*

By fnord12 | September 15, 2017, 3:21 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

September 14, 2017

C'mon Bernie you slacker

Is this productive in any way? Or is it just designed to infuriate me?

Holding constant rallies campaigning for her, in defense of ACA, on a unity tour, uniting Dems around Single Payer... clearly not enough.

By fnord12 | September 14, 2017, 5:04 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

The Poseur Stamp

At least i got it before they put Tye Sheridan on the cover.

By fnord12 | September 14, 2017, 7:39 AM | Boooooks| Link

September 13, 2017


Matt Stoller has an interesting article on the history of credit rating agencies.

Two interesting tidbits, neither really the main point:

..in the 1960s, BankAmericard (now Visa), suffering from low adoption rates for its card, mailed millions of unsolicited credit cards to individuals. Not applications for credit cards, but the cards themselves. A crime wave ensued. Trucks full of cards were driven away by organized crime. People who received the cards didn't know how to use them. Many thought the cards were simply a way to get free stuff; they didn't realize they'd have to pay the bill later.


As they say in the industry, with a credit card you can buy a car; without a credit card you can't even rent one. (I have a pet theory that the rise of credit cards in earnest is one reason for the dramatic drop in street crime since the 1990s.)

By fnord12 | September 13, 2017, 7:31 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Who voted to keep AUMF?

Rand Paul managed to get an amendment to the floor on repealing the AUMFs that are justifying endless war. The amendment failed (no surprise), but Jonathan Cohn has the list of Democrats that voted against Paul's amendment. I'm a little surprised about who is on the list, including the Democratic Senators from New Hampshire and one from Hawaii. Also surprising is who is not on the list - my terrible Senator Menendez apparently voted for the amendment [see update], and so did Tim Kaine (!) and Dianne Feinstein (!!). Gives one (a small amount) of hope.

By fnord12 | September 13, 2017, 4:24 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

How to pay for Medicare For All

Bernie provides options.

By fnord12 | September 13, 2017, 4:21 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

September 12, 2017

Asians Just Aren't Expressive


"I work with a lot of different people, and Asians are a challenge to cast because most casting directors feel as though they're not very expressive," one other casting director told Yuen. "They're very shut down in their emotions ... If it's a look thing for business where they come in they're at a computer or if they're like a scientist or something like that, they'll do that; but if it's something were they really have to act and get some kind of performance out of, it's a challenge."

Yep. We Asians are just so inscrutable that it's amazing there are thriving film industries in Asian countries.

By min | September 12, 2017, 11:40 AM | Liberal Outrage & Movies & TeeVee| Link

September 11, 2017

Harris, Warren, Gillibrand, Booker... who's next?

We should encourage every Democrat to run for president. Then they will all have to sign on to Bernie's Single-Payer Bill.

By fnord12 | September 11, 2017, 1:46 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Double Down

Some more Naomi Klein on climate change for you.

AS ONE OF the most powerful storms ever recorded bore down on the continental United States, with much of Florida under evacuation order, President Donald Trump was focused on a matter of grave urgency.

He gathered his cabinet at Camp David and said there was no time to waste. With Hurricane Irma set to potentially devastate huge swaths of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, now was the time, he said, to rush through massive ... tax cuts.


Some have speculated that seeing the reality of climate change hit so close to home this summer -- Houston underwater, Los Angeles licked by flames, and now southern states getting battered by Irma -- might be some kind of wake-up call for climate change-denying Republicans.

But Trump's timing is even more revealing for what it shows about what's really driving climate change denial on the right. It's not a rejection of the science, but a rejection of the consequences of the science. Put simply, if the science is true, then the whole economic project that has dominated American power structures since Ronald Reagan was president is out the window, and the deniers know it.

Because if climate change is driving the kinds of catastrophes we are seeing right now -- and it is -- then it doesn't just mean Trump has to apologize and admit he was wrong when he called it a Chinese hoax. It means that he also needs to junk his whole tax plan, because we're going to need that tax money (and more) to pay for a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. And it also means he's going to have to junk his deregulatory plan, because if we are going to change how we power our lives, we're going to need all kinds of regulations to manage and enforce it. And, of course, this is not just about Trump -- it's about all the climate-denying Republican governors whose states are currently being pounded. All of them would have to junk an entire twisted worldview holding that the market is always right, regulation is always wrong, private is good and public is bad, and taxes that support public services are the worst of all.

And the Dems are not blameless either. I think they're even worse because they acknowledge climate change but refuse to get the hell out of our way so something can be done about it. They are driving 35mph in the fast lane.

And this isn't only about the right -- it's also about the center. What mainstream liberals have been saying about climate change for decades is that we simply need to tweak the existing system here and there and everything will be fine. You can have Goldman Sachs capitalism plus solar panels. But at this stage, the challenge we are up against is much deeper than that.

I think we're pretty much doomed. Mebbe dinosaurs will eventually come back and get a second chance. At least they were blameless in their extinction.

By min | September 11, 2017, 1:22 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

September 10, 2017

These Guys Have Cracked the Code on Asian Women

So much not. SMH

By min | September 10, 2017, 6:56 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

It'll Blow Over

Keep telling yourself that. Naomi Klein on our climate crisis and the wildfires engulfing the north of the continent.

For millions of people from California to Greenland, Oregon to Portugal, British Columbia to Montana, Siberia to South Africa, the summer of 2017 has been the summer of fire. And more than anything else, it's been the summer of ubiquitous, inescapable smoke.

For years, climate scientists have warned us that a warming world is an extreme world, in which humanity is buffeted by both brutalizing excesses and stifling absences of the core elements that have kept fragile life in equilibrium for millennia. At the end of the summer of 2017 -- with major cities submerged in water and others licked by flames -- we are currently living through Exhibit A of this extreme world, one in which natural extremes come head-to-head with social, racial, and economic ones.


Worse, in true shock doctrine form, some extractive industries are actively using the fiery state of emergency to get stuff done that was impossible during normal times. For instance, Taseko Mines has been fighting for years to build a highly contentious, open pit gold and copper mine in one of the parts of British Columbia hit hardest by the fires. Fierce opposition among the Tsilhqot'in First Nation has so far successfully fended off the toxic project, resulting in several key regulatory victories.

But this July, with several of the impacted Tsilhqot'in communities under evacuation order or holding their ground to fight the fires themselves, the outgoing British Columbia government -- notorious as a "wild west" of political payola -- did something extraordinary. In its last week in office after suffering a humiliating election defeat, the government handed Taseko a raft of permits to move ahead with exploration. "It defies compassion that while our people are fighting for our homes and lives, B.C. issues permits that will destroy more of our land beyond repair," said Russell Myers Ross, a Tsilhqot'in chief. A representative of the outgoing government responded: "I appreciate this may come at a difficult time for you given the wildfire situation affecting some of your communities."

By min | September 10, 2017, 3:47 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

September 7, 2017

Turn Me Into Soup


U.C.L.A. is the only place in California that liquefies the dead. But after five years and hundreds of bodies processed, Dean Fisher, director of the university's Donated Body Program, hopes to change that. He has been working with state legislators on a bill allowing funeral homes to use this process, called alkaline hydrolysis.
Such machines break down tissue using lye (water mixed with a small quantity of potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide), which snaps the chemical bonds that hold together proteins, fats, DNA and other bodily building blocks. Multiple mechanisms can be used: The most expensive machines boil the lye at high pressure and 150 degrees Celsius, which can disintegrate a body in few hours. Cheaper models--unpressurized and operating below boiling point--might take a day (and are frowned on by some of those championing the pressurized approach, who are not convinced the budget-friendly models will always fully digest the remains). Some machines keep the body horizontal; others tip it into the lye. But with any of these approaches what comes out should be a brown soup of simple organic molecules that can be poured into a sewer system. The bones, however, do not dissolve. They can be pulverized and given to the family of the deceased. Companies marketing the technique trumpet its low greenhouse gas emissions compared with flame crematoriums that burn natural gas. Alkaline hydrolysis uses energy primarily to heat and cool the lye--and thus emits about 80 percent less carbon dioxide--according to an estimate by TNO, an independent research and development consulting organization in the Netherlands. "If you're concerned about gas emissions, the choice is pretty obvious," says California Assemblyman Todd Gloria. He wrote California's new bill after being approached by Qico, a company in San Diego prototyping alkaline hydrolysis technology.
But is the soapy soup it dumps into the sewer safe? Disease should not be a problem because the roiling lye sterilizes the organic material, says Joe Wilson, CEO of Bio-Response Solutions. The company, based in Danville, Ind., built many of the low-cost units now used in funeral homes, including Jeff Edwards's in Ohio. "It's hot as hell in there, and alkali is a powerful sterilant at temperature," Wilson says. Testing on animal carcasses, much of which has been peer-reviewed, seems to back his claims. "Even the hardiest pathogen, an anthrax spore, is easily killed," he says, adding that the process also breaks down toxic chemicals such as embalming fluid.

I would like it better if the crematoriums had to put the goo thru a preliminary wastewater treatment process first before dumping it down the drain. Despite the process to bring down the pH, it could still be a problem for the pipes over time and because of sheer volume, especially considering the age of our sewer systems. Plus, the wastewater treatment plants weren't designed to deal with large volumes of high pH influx on a regular basis. It could adversely affect the microbial population in the digestion tanks used to "clean" the wastewater.

But i'm all for cremation. That or becoming a tree.

By min | September 7, 2017, 1:45 PM | Science| Link

September 5, 2017

...Which doesn't meant the problem doesn't need to be solved

Continuing from my last post: just because we're willing to excuse a candidate's lack of expertise (and/or the lack of existence of an expertise apparatus behind him) during the election, that doesn't mean that they don't need to develop that expertise once they're elected. In other words, the criticism from Vox, etc. (Krugman) was a valid; it was just a second order problem. Not solving that second order problem once elected definitely can be a disaster. After Obama won the primary against Clinton, it was pretty shocking and dismaying to see him pick up so many people from her campaign (and her husband's presidency). The explanation was that the Clinton people were the only ones who had "experience" in Washington, so they were the only people that could be chosen. That was debatable, and it led to bad policy (e.g. the poor response to the financial crisis), but i sort of kind of understand how it happened.

And we also see this with Trump. Trump is plenty evil on his own, but amplifying the problem is the fact that he was so toxic he was only able to populate his administration with people worse than him. So (if we believe it) we have situations like this regarding the decision to repeal DACA:

Still, the president was conflicted until the end about how to address the plight of dreamers, waffling repeatedly in recent days about how to phase out the program.

As late as one hour before the decision was to be announced, administration officials privately expressed concern that Mr. Trump might not fully grasp the details of the steps he was about to take, and when he discovered their full impact, would change his mind, according to a person familiar with their thinking who spoke on condition of anonymity without authorization to comment on it.

I don't expect something like that to happen if Bernie were to run and win in 2020, but the possibility of him pushing not-ready-for-prime-time bills is real. That's why Yglesias' article below, appealing to think tanks to start working on real progressive ideas, is interesting. I also think that experts will flock to the White House if there's an opportunity, and i have more faith in Sanders than Obama in being willing to take outsiders without "experience", but it's definitely something that needs to be taken into consideration.

By fnord12 | September 5, 2017, 12:05 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Think Tanks

Vox has recently discovered think tanks, with Matthew Yglesias writing an article about how there's no progressive support network for ideas like Single Payer, and now Zack Beauchamp on how the Dems literally don't have foreign policy think tanks. Beauchamp briefly identifies the problem (which applies to Yglesias' article too): many "liberals" don't support ideas like single payer and are fine with our current foreign policy. And those "liberals" are exclusively the ones that have the money to fund think tanks. I honestly don't see how that situation changes.

I'm glad Vox is discovering this, because during the 2016 primaries they were at the forefront of people complaining that Bernie Sanders' ideas weren't at the flushed-out white paper level that Clinton's were, that he didn't have an array of foreign policy experts supporting him, etc.. For those of us who supported Bernie, the fact that he was willing and able to go beyond the conventional acceptable discourse was the whole point, and the fact that he didn't have sophisticated policy papers on his website didn't really matter much.

By fnord12 | September 5, 2017, 11:51 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

September 4, 2017

Just invade us, Canada. You'll get help from the inside.

Canada on NAFTA renegotiation:

Canadian negotiators are demanding the United States roll back so-called "right to work" laws - accused of gutting unions in some U.S. states by starving them of money - as part of the renegotiation of the North American free-trade agreement.


Jerry Dias, the leader of Canada's largest private-sector trade union, said Ottawa's negotiators are: pushing Mexico on its corporate-sanctioned unions, which are accused of negotiating collective agreements unfavourable to workers; agitating for both countries to offer a year of paid family leave, as Canada does; and targeting American right-to-work laws that allow workers in unionized shops to refuse to pay dues, draining money from unions.

By fnord12 | September 4, 2017, 1:23 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

September 2, 2017

Don't tell them yet

Marshall Steinbaum has a study showing how Universal Basic Income would give the economy a huge boost. The study's conclusion works from the opposite direction of tech magnates like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, who have been advocating for UBI because they think their innovations are going to displace everyone's jobs. But don't tell those guys yet. I love that they are out there advocating for UBI. Let them do that, and let's get our UBI, and then we'll use our monopoly laws to bust their companies (or nationalize them).

Update: Vox also has a write-up on the study.

By fnord12 | September 2, 2017, 12:27 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Houston vs. Bangladesh

Dean Baker on global warming:

We are seeing many terrible pictures from Houston as a result of Hurricane Harvey. People with young children and pets are wading through high water in the hope of being rescued by boat or helicopter. Elderly people in nursing homes are sitting in waist high water waiting to be rescued. It's a pretty horrible story.

One thing we can feel good about is that because the United States is a wealthy country, we do have large numbers of boats and helicopters and trained rescue workers able to assist the victims of the storm. We also have places where we can take these people where they will have shelter, as well access to food and medical care. However bad the human toll will be from Harvey, it would be hugely worse without these resources.


Bangladesh experiences seasonal monsoon rains [which] are likely to get worse in the years ahead, as one of the effects of global warming. This will mean that the flooding will be worse.

Bangladesh does not have large amounts of resources to assist the people whose homes are flooded. It does not have the same number of boats and helicopters and trained rescue workers to save people trapped by rising water. Nor can it guarantee that people who do escape will have access to adequate shelter, medical care, or even clean drinking water. This means many more people are likely to be dying from floods in Bangladesh in part as a result of the impact of global warming.

Emissions of the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming are often treated as a natural market outcome, whereas efforts to restrict emissions are viewed as government intervention. This is nonsense.

Allowing people to emit greenhouse gases without paying for the damage done is like allowing them to dump their sewage on their neighbor's lawn. Everyone understands that we are responsible for dealing with our own sewage and not imposing a cost on our neighbor. It's the same story with greenhouse gases.

By fnord12 | September 2, 2017, 12:12 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

September 1, 2017

Da-Ding Ding Ding Dada Ding Ding

This interview is legend among my people. I never considered trying to find it on YouTube, but i have stumbled upon it.

By fnord12 | September 1, 2017, 12:57 PM | Music| Link

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