Rod Blum is a No Talent Clown

No he is not Michael Bolton.  Not Michael Bolton the computer programmer.  You know, the other Michael Bolton.  I digress.

Rod Blum is apparently a think skinned, no talent clown who happens to represent the 1st district of Iowa.  During an interview, which he requested, KCRG’s Josh Scheinblum wasted no time and had zero chill for Blum’s bullshit.  Check out the full exchange here.

With a group of school children watching Rod Blum got to question two before going all “boom, outta here.”  The question that got him was about his willingness to accept donations from out of his district while claiming to not represent anyone outside of his district.  These are some real tough questions Rod.  The problem, as many Iowans in the district see it now, is that Rod Blum represents moneyed interests with names like Adelson and Koch.  We will never know because the groups that give Rod Blum his campaign cash do not have to disclose their donors.

Things did not get any better for Rod during his scheduled town hall in Dubuque when he was asked to defend his slavish adherence to the Trump-Ryan agenda.

How do people think things are going to go in Cedar Rapids tonight?  The suspense is terrible, I hope it will last!

Life is a Pre-Existing Condition

Afford me a moment to ramble about health insurance and pre-existing conditions.

My mother died from terminal lung cancer almost eight years ago.  She fought her disease with a fierceness and dignity that I find almost unimaginable.  The greatest insult during her entire ordeal was with her health insurance.

After more than two years of purchasing a health care policy on the individual market in pre-Obamacare days she was denied coverage when she was diagnosed with lung cancer.  The functionary on the phone told my father that her cancer was a pre-existing condition.  It was as if they were telling him that she waited to get diagnosed with cancer after more than two years of paying premiums.  As if she waited to deal with her cancer because…reasons?

My mother probably started her path toward lung cancer taking her first drag of a cigarette as a sixteen year old in East Moline Illinois in the 1960s.  Based on health insurance company logic she had a pre-existing condition going back almost forty years.

In truth, we all have a pre-existing condition.  We are alive and we will die.  This might be a little bit of hyperbole, but after dealing with health insurance companies I do not feel that anything is beyond the pale.  When you are at your lowest these people will step on your throat.  When you have lost family members these people will drop a letter detailing their refusal to honor the policy you dutifully paid upon for two years.  These are the people that Republicans in the House of Representatives have sided with instead of actual human beings.

If you think that things will be fine you need to wake the fuck up.  Health insurance companies will drop your ass from your policy for any of the following reasons:

 

  • Breast cancer
  • Uterine cancer
  • Pregnancy or expectant parent
  • A Cesarean delivery
  • Being a survivor of domestic violence
  • Medical treatment for sexual assault
  • Mental disorders (severe, e.g., bipolar, eating disorder)
  • AIDS/HIV
  • Lupus
  • Alcohol abuse/drug abuse with recent treatment
  • Alzheimer’s/dementia
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Arthritis (rheumatoid), fibromyalgia, other inflammatory joint disease
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Any cancer within some period of time (e.g., 10 years, often other than basal skin cancer)
  • Obesity, severe
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Organ transplant
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Paraplegia
  • Coronary artery/heart disease, bypass surgery
  • Paralysis
  • Crohn’s disease/ ulcerative colitis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)/emphysema
  • Pending surgery or hospitalization
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Pneumocystic pneumonia
  • Epilepsy
  • Hemophilia
  • Sleep apnea
  • Hepatitis (hep C)
  • Stroke
  • Kidney disease, renal failure
  • Transsexualism

That’s right, if you survived an abusive domestic situation you have a pre-existing condition for which a health insurance company could deny you coverage.  Born with cerebal palsy?  Hell, that is almost the definition of pre-existing condition in the eyes of a health insurance company.  Paul Ryan came for your health care and he succeeded.

So, basically Republicans want to punish us for having the gall to live and to expect more than a Hobbesian existence.   The ethos in Republican circles is “Fuck you if you are not rich and powerful.”

Paul Ryan came for your health care.  Paul Ryan is coming for your retirement.

Paul Ryan is a Smug S.O.B.

Shortly after barely passing a bill to repeal critical elements of the Affordable Care Act House Republicans boarded some busses and headed to the White House for a celebration with their new spirit animal Donald Trump.

In the glow of potentially taking health care away from tens of millions of people and throwing the entire system into disarray Paul Ryan could not be happier with himself:

President Trump Speaks At The White House After The House Voted On Health Care Bill

Notice something else about the image?  Yeah, it’s filled with middle aged to elderly white men.  Based on the average net worth of Congress these are also men who make significantly more money than the rest of the United States.  We wonder why these asshats do not pass legislation that actually helps people?

Paul Ryan has come for your health care.  Paul Ryan is going to come for your retirement.  Paul Ryan’s goal is nothing short of a radical departure from more than eight decades of progress in the name of some ideological wet dream he had in college.

Also, these no talent ass clowns celebrated their big victory by wheeling in coolers of Bud Light.  Nothing says American celebration like a lame ass beer brewed by a Brazilian company.

Friday Linkage 5/5/2017

We are entering a new dystopia.  It’s a few steps before the Handmaiden’s Tale, but it is not so far off as to be improbable.  Don’t believe me?  Recently, the Alabama senate allowed a church to establish its own police force.  You can talk to me all day long about sharia law, but I am much more worried about evangelicals pushing their putrid stew of erroneous religiosity.  And Donald Trump, our fearless flaccid cantaloupe of a leader, signed an executive order to remove restrictions on a church’s ability to be active politically.

Add into this mess the talk about making it easier for public figures to sue for libel and you have a runway to the apocalypse.

On to the links…

The Drivers Behind Flattening CO2 Emissions—It’s like we got a short reprieve from CO2 emissions increasing, but those drivers are not likely to continue driving any flattening in the long term.  The only long term answer is a move toward a fossil fuel free economy.

Colorado Just Explicitly Banned Rolling Coal After An Incredibly Stupid Debate—Why is this even something that people do?  I should have known we were in trouble as a country when I started seeing this happen.  Hey, look at me, I am an idiot blowing billowing black smoke out my tailpipes!

California is About to Revolutionize Climate Policy … Again—California, you’re our only hope.  How does this state keep electing Darrell Issa to Congress?  I will never understand that conundrum.

“Red State” Utilities Populate the Top 10 Lists for Solar—They might not say it, but even right wingers like the economic arguments for solar.

Turbines Propel Nebraska Past a Wind-Energy Milestone—Welcome to the party Nebraska.

The Energy of Tomorrow Looks Strikingly Artistic from Above—Just some cool images of renewable energy taken from the air.

Once and for All: Obama Didn’t Crush US Coal, and Trump Can’t Save It—Now that right wing reactionaries can no longer rely on the “other” that was Barack Obama they will have to answer why everything they do does not bring back coal jobs.  Oh right, natural gas killed goal.  Oh right, automation killed coal jobs.  Oh right, you guys were full of shit and spent eight years bloviating about a war on coal.

Saving Coal Country by Ending Coal’s Empire—In all the rhetoric about coal jobs leaving coal country there has been little discussion about the abusive practices of coal companies toward their workers.  There is a reason why coal country was a hotbed of militant worker organization.

Portland to Use Sewage Gas to Shift Away from Diesel—What kind of potential exists to do this in cities like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago? Portland has a population of approximately 620k people compared with approximately 8.5m for New York, 3.9m for Los Angeles, and 2.7m for Chicago.  That is a lot of poo gas.

The Wine Industry’s Battle with Climate Change—Vineyards are agriculture’s canary in the coal mine, so to speak, given the touchy nature of high end grape production.  Many varieties of grapes were bred to grow in particular micro climates that may not exist in the near future.

No Animals Required: Lab-Grown Meat Can Help Beat Antibiotic Resistance—We have to hope for solutions like this because our government will do nothing to combat the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria linked to the over medication of livestock.

2022 Winter Olympics To Be Held On Mountains Where It Doesn’t Snow—How do I know that the Olympics are run by a corrupt organization only concerned with lining their own pockets?  When they decide to host a winter Olympiad on a mountain where it does not snow.

Do You Really Need That? No, You Don’t.—Just stop buying stuff.  Simplest eco advice in history.  Also the most effective.

6 Most Common Sources of Plastic Pollution—Eliminating these sources of plastic pollution is low hanging fruit.

Friday Linkage 4/28/2017

Did you see the details of Donald Trump’s tax “reform” plan?  Okay, details were sparse because it read like an objectivist’s children’s book on tax reform.  Taxes…bad!  Corporations…good!  If you want to know how this story plays out look at Kansas.  Maybe that is not the comparison that Trump and the Hucksters would like you to make, but it is the most apt corollary.

On to the links…

Is Wind Power Saving Rural Iowa or Wrecking It?—Most people I know who live in rural Iowa are wind power proponents.  Lease payments have allowed people to continue to maintain farms in lean years when crop prices fall.  However, there are those who consider the turbines a blight.  I think that the important question to ask is what these communities would look like without wind power.  There was nothing else that was going to fill the economic void.

Windblown: MidAmerican Zeroes in on 100% Renewable Energy—Iowa, as a whole, may get nearly 37% of its electricity from the wind but utility MidAmerican, owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, is closing in on getting 100% of its juice from the wind.  That seems like something worth celebrating.

Going Green Shouldn’t be this Hard—No one is saying we need to whole hog embrace a hair shirt lifestyle cold turkey.  Incremental improvement across a broad swath of areas is the key to lasting and meaningful change.

How Republicans Came to Embrace Anti-Environmentalism—I think it all comes down to cash.  People like the Kochs, flush with fossil fuel cash, were willing to lavish it on politicians who defended their oily interests.

Outdoor Recreation Industry, Seeing Role to Protect Public Lands, Boasts $887 Billion Impact—There is a downside to exploiting public lands for mineral gain.  The opportunity cost is a loss of sustainable recreation dollars.

Can We Fight Climate Change with Trees and Grass?—We are going to need all the tools we can get in the coming decades.

New Orleans — “Biking Boomtown” — Doubled Rate Of Bicycle Commuters In 10 Years—New Orleans does not leap to the front of mind when thinking about bicycling hot spots.  However, mild winters and a flat topography do make for a favorable location.  Why can’t more communities put some effort into bicycling as transportation like New Orleans?

Dodging Rubble is One Thing — in Mosul, Cyclists Contend with Mortars and Gunfire Too—If you complain about the problems on your commute just think about living in Mosul, Iraq.  First world problems, man.

Milkweed by the Masses: Nebraska Eyes New Habitat Goal for Monarchs, Other Pollinators—Iowa has seen great success with introducing pollinator friendly milkweed patches and it now looks like Nebraska, normally a fairly reactionary environmental state, is getting in on the action.

Does Saturated Fat Clog Your Arteries? Controversial Paper Says ‘No’—No one is saying binge on bacon, but maybe we can finally retire the old Ancel Keys’ wisdom about fats being the root cause of our dietary ills.

Friday Linkage 4/21/2017

Jason Chaffetz chooses not to run in 2018.  John Ossoff almost pulled it off in deep red Georgia.  Damn. Things might actually be looking up.

Oh wait, Trump is talking tough about North Korea.  Mike Pence is talking tough about North Korea.  Is it time for the tail to wag the dog and our lunatic politicians to wrap themselves in the flag before starting a war.  Worked for W.  Too bad it did not work out for the country.

On to the links…

The United States of Work—Read this entire article before commenting or dashing off a response email.  Think about its implications.  Our private employers have become a de facto parallel state to the federal government.

7 Reasons Why Today’s Left Should be Optimistic—I have hope because when you actually ask people if they support things like single payer healthcare, social security, worker protections, etc. the support is overwhelming.  We just need to translate that support into votes.  Ahh, the easy stuff.

6 Ways Trump’s Administration Could Literally Make America More Toxic—Our vigilance is required more than ever.  Plus, we have the opportunity to hit members of Congress with the reality that they have supported an administration that has made the air and water we depend on for life more toxic.  Defend that in front of the people.

6 Times Trump’s EPA Head did Exactly what Industry Told Him To—Scott Pruitt is the fossil fuel industry’s meat puppet.  He does what they want and that has allowed him to rise to his current position.  He is not an original thinker or a policy professional.  He is a shill for fossil fuels.

The 3 Stages of a Country Embracing Renewable Energy—I’ve got a number thing going on this week.  It’s a little bit too much like Harvard writing, but the idea is important.  What the world will look like as countries enter into the third stage of renewable energy development will be critical to our future on this planet.

Climate’s New Best Friend—Get used to the term “stranded assets.”  Basically, oil companies made plans to develop fossil fuel sources when prices were high.  Now that oil is under $60 a barrel these projects are no longer cost competitive.  Hence, stranded assets.

Europe’s Coal Power Is Going up in Smoke – Fast—The death spiral is real in Europe.

Ice Energy & NRG Announce World’s Largest Ice Bear Energy Storage Deployment—Shifting peak electricity demand is a huge component of making our grid greener as the prime hours of solar production are just short of the peak demand from residential users.  Plus, the wind blows hard at night when no one is using electricity.  This is a low tech, established solution to shift demand to other times of the day.

Walmart Secures 40 MWh of Energy Storage for Southern California Stores—Big box stores are a prime location for energy storage.  Why?  Land, lots of land, parking lots, and a need to make sure that the freezers stay cold so they do not lose thousands of dollars’ worth of frozen pizzas in a power outage.  Helping to balance the demand load is a nice little side benefit.

Here’s What Our Food Might Look Like in a Climate Change-Induced Dystopia—Top Chef Hunger Games this is not.

Tokyo’s Skyline Set to See 45 New Skyscrapers by 2020 Olympics—When people tell me that we cannot quickly add buildings to our urban landscape for housing I wonder what they would say about Tokyo?

One Key Way Soggy California Could Save Water for the Next Dry Spell—California may be out of the worst of its recent drought, but the state is essentially on a roller coaster of moisture and has been for thousands of years.  Preparing the landscape for the next cycle is critical.

Why Shopping Should be a Last Resort—We should all have a copy of this taped to the door of our refrigerators at home:

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Everyone is a Shill Nowadays

Instagram is my little curated slice of the Internet.  It is filled with post after post of people living and recreating in the mountains.  It is essentially the life I would like to lead if I did not have things like a mortgage, children, and a general sense of long term fiscal responsibility.  Yes, I am so basic in that respect but basic pays the bills.

Instagram is also a cesspool of shills.  It seems like everyone is shilling for someone or something.  I find Mikaela Shiffrin to be an amazing athlete and my nine-year-old daughter is infatuated with her skiing exploits, but I know that she is shilling for Barila or Vail Resorts when she posts on Instagram.

Loki the Wolf Dog is shilling for Toyota or whoever else is sponsoring the latest adventure.

Heck, even hippies in vans are shilling for potato chips.

All is not lost because we can peer through the marketing noise for the message we truly care about.  I am genuinely curious about the results from World Cup ski races and my daughter hangs on every post Mikaela Shiffrin makes but the occasional Barila blast is not going to change my pasta buying habits.  I enjoy watching Loki the Wolf Dog tear down some backcountry slopes in the San Juan Mountains but I am not going to test drive a new Tacoma.

Once we recognize that everyone online is shilling for someone or something we take the power away from the marketers.