Rick Perry loses his cool when confronted by Sen. Franken on climate science

When told “humans are entirely the cause” of recent warming, Perry said, “I don’t buy it.”

Energy Sec. Rick Perry. CREDIT: AP/Andy Wong, File

After a week full of misleading and inaccurate statements, Energy Secretary Rick Perry remained incredulous and defiant when confronted with climate science-related facts in a budget hearing Thursday.

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) informed Perry that scientists have concluded that “humans are entirely the cause” of recent warming, to which Perry responded, “I don’t believe it” and “I don’t buy it.”

And when Franken reminded him this was the conclusion of a team of climate science skeptics funded by conservative petrochemical billionaires Charles and David Koch, Perry raised his voice and said: “To stand up and say that 100 percent of global warming is because of human activity, I think on its face, is just indefensible.”

CNBC allows Rick Perry to spout nonsense on live TV without any fact checking

What is indefensible is that the U.S. Secretary of Energy continues to reject established climate science and remain completely impervious to facts — which was made all too clear by a review of this week’s events.

Monday on CNBC, Perry falsely claimed that carbon dioxide was not the primary cause of recent global warming, along with a bunch of other nonsense. He also defended his right to be a “skeptic.”

On Wednesday, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) wrote Perry a letter informing him that he was simply wrong. The central role of greenhouse gases — of which CO2 is the “most important” — is “based on multiple independent lines of evidence that have been affirmed by thousands of independent scientists and numerous scientific institutions around the world,” the letter read.

The AMS called these “indisputable findings,” and pointed out, “we are not familiar with any scientific institution with relevant subject matter expertise that has reached a different conclusion.”

The AMS also explained that while some aspects of climate science are not fully resolved, this wasn’t one of them, adding, “skepticism that fails to account for evidence is no virtue.”

On Thursday, at an Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, Franken asked Perry to defend downplaying the role of CO2 — and Perry reiterated his denial. Oblivious, Perry repeated, “what’s wrong with being a skeptic?”

Franken vs. Perry on climate science

Perry went on to call for a so-called “red team” exercise where scientists argue back and forth with a “blue team” on the issue. “But that is exactly how science works,” replied Franken, with teams of scientists pushing back and forth on one another until a consensus is reached.

Franken then pointed out that the Koch brothers had actually helped set up a “red team” of skeptics to take a new look at all of the historical data on global surface temperatures. He then quoted what the head of that team, Dr. Richard Muller, said in the New York Times about their findings:

Call me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.

At that moment in the questioning, Perry lost his composure, not merely rejecting this scientific reality but asserting angrily that it is “just indefensible.”

For the record, not only is it defensible, but in 2013, the world’s leading climatologists concluded in their summary of the latest science that “the best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.”

To clarify this science-speak from U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the best estimate is that humans are responsible for all of the warming we have suffered since 1950. Every major government in the world signed off on this conclusion back in 2013.

But the U.S. Energy Secretary is not just unaware of the science; when presented with it, he’s sure it can’t be true. That’s what makes him a denier and not a skeptic.

Rick Perry loses his cool when confronted by Sen. Franken on climate science was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

JUST IN: Obama Breaks Silence, Makes Sickening Attack On Trump’s Healthcare Agenda…

Repealing Obamacare is one of President Donald Trump’s greatest tasks — and he’s getting very close. However, former President Barack Obama chimed in days before the Senate votes to repeal of Obamacare, slamming the Republican party […]

The post JUST IN: Obama Breaks Silence, Makes Sickening Attack On Trump’s Healthcare Agenda… appeared first on The Truth Division.

Trumpcare vocab lesson: ‘Death spiral’

Trumpcare threatens to collapse many insurance markets.

CREDIT: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Let’s talk about “death spirals.”

That’s not a political term that Democratic operatives made up to scare you. “Death spiral” is actually the economic term of art for what Trumpcare will do to health insurance markets.

A death spiral is a kind of feedback loop where higher premiums cause healthy, paying customers to drop their health plans, which in turn leads to higher premiums, which in turn drives more people out of the insurance market. It’s called a “death spiral” because it often ends in the collapse of that market.

And, because we are talking about health care, it will also end in the deaths of many Americans who will no longer be able to afford care.

What is a death spiral?

One of the most challenging problems solved by Obamacare is how to insure people with pre-existing conditions. Before Obamacare, insurers were free to deny coverage to such individuals — and this wasn’t something they did simply because they were being cruel.

The whole point of health insurance is that everyone pays into an insurance pool that they only take money out of when they need medical care. Pre-existing conditions can be quite expensive to cover — indeed, they can be more expensive than the insurer can reasonably charge in premiums.

If you load up an insurance pool with too many sick people, they start taking more money out of the pool than the health consumers are paying into it — until the whole thing collapses.

The Senate version of Trumpcare may phase out Medicaid — entirely

One possible solution is to simply require insurers to eat these costs, and pass a law requiring them to cover people with pre-existing conditions even if these individuals take out more money than they pay in. But such a law creates its own problem. If people can wait until they are sick to buy health coverage, people will wait until they are sick to buy health coverage. And that will leave insurers with too few healthy customers to cover the costs of their sick consumers.

The death spiral begins after an insurer raises premiums to meet this funding shortfall. Higher premiums drive out more healthy customers, which forces the insurer to jack up premiums even more, which drives out even more healthy customers, which forces the insurer to jack up premiums again.

As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg explained in the first Obamacare case to reach the Supreme Court, “in the 1990’s, several States — including New York, New Jersey, Washington, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont,” enacted laws prohibiting discrimination against people with preexisting conditions, and “the results were disastrous. ‘All seven states suffered from skyrocketing insurance premium costs, reductions in individuals with coverage, and reductions in insurance products and providers.’”

The Obamacare solution

Obamacare solves this problem with an unpopular, but quite effective provision: the law’s so-called individual mandate. This mandate imposes higher taxes on most people who are uninsured, giving healthy people a financial incentive to buy health insurance that wards off a death spiral.

The Senate Trumpcare bill would repeal this mandate and replace it with, well, nothing.

That’s a huge problem because, while the Senate bill does weaken the law’s insurance regulations and allow states to waive some of them, it leaves in place Obamacare’s provisions prohibiting insurers from charging more to people with preexisting conditions. That’s a recipe for a death spiral.

Once the death spiral begins, things can get pretty grim, pretty quickly. When Kentucky tried protecting people with pre-existing conditions without also enacting an individual mandate, for example, nearly all insurers left its individual insurance market. In New Jersey, some premiums rose by 350 percent. In Washington, some counties had no private individual insurance coverage available at any price.

And, if the Senate Trumpcare bill becomes law, this fate could await all 50 states.

Trumpcare vocab lesson: ‘Death spiral’ was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Trump’s Interior Secretary defends his plan to cut at least 4,000 staff

Zinke has also begun an unprecedented shake-up of senior career officials.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke talks with reporters at the Katahdin Woods And Waters National Monument near Staceyville, Maine, June 14, 2017. CREDIT: AP Photo/Patrick Whittle

In multiple appearances on Capitol Hill this week, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke stood behind his proposal to cut at least 4,000 full-time staff from the Interior Department. He has also begun an unprecedented shake-up of senior career officials. Together, the thinning of experienced career employees could have far-reaching consequences for the agency’s ability to manage public land and energy development on behalf of the American people.

“I’m troubled by a number of recent personnel decisions that call into question the department’s commitment to its workforce and of keeping Congress informed of major changes to the day-to-day operations of the department,” Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) told Zinke on Wednesday.

The Trump administration’s proposed budget would cut the Interior Department by nearly 12 percent, forcing significant layoffs. While the reductions would impact the entire agency, those staff cuts are particularly concerning for two bureaus: the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

During his first week on the job, Zinke promised to “focus on rebuilding our parks,” but the administration’s proposed budget still cuts the park service by almost $300 million. The park service’s own budget justification says that they would be forced to cut 1,242 full-time equivalent employees, a number that, in practice, could end up being much higher because many park rangers and other employees are seasonal or part-time. This would likely result in closed campgrounds and other facilities at a time when national park visitation is at an all-time high and is an economic boon to local communities.

Don’t be fooled by Trump’s National Park Service photo-op

The cuts at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are also severe. Department officials already told the BLM in a memo to prepare to cut 1,000 people before the end of the year — a 10 percent cut of the agency’s staff. According to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a group representing state, local, and federal resource professionals, BLM is already severely understaffed.

“According to Trump’s fantasy plan, BLM is supposed to achieve ‘energy independence’ before its coffee break, stimulate rural ‘job creation’ by lunch and do it with substantially less resources,” said PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that BLM failed to identify any functions the bureau is supposed to set aside. “It is disturbing but perhaps not surprising that BLM staff are directed to put political hobbyhorses ahead of legally required duties.”

BLM has a host of responsibilities that stand to be impacted by significant cuts — including managing safety and inspection of oil and gas production, firefighting, mineral rights on Indian lands, abandoned mines, and protecting cultural and historic sites.

BLM’s law enforcement rangers are also already stretched thin. Right now, only 124 rangers are responsible for patrolling 245 million acres of public lands — essentially one officer for every 2 million acres. These rangers combat drug cultivation, protect Native American sites and artifacts from being looted, prevent thousands of incidents of theft and vandalism, and confront anti-government threats like those posed by the Bundys, who staged an armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

It’s not just cuts that have people worried about Interior’s ability to handle its responsibilities. Zinke recently sent nearly 50 senior career officials letters informing them of new assignments. Though Zinke can legally reassign these positions, Dan Ashe, Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service under the Obama administration, says the scale of the shake-up is unprecedented and could result in several issue experts being moved outside of their expertise. For example, the agency’s top climate policy official has been reassigned to an office with the mission to collect revenues from energy development on public lands.

“I’m very worried about the idea that you’re moving people who have real serious expertise in an area to an area that they may not know anything about,” Udall, the top Democrat overseeing Interior spending, said in an interview with Politico. “It looks like an attempt to make the agency so it doesn’t work very well or [so] that the powers that be exercise their will more easily on the agency.”

Some are calling the moves an attempt to “intimidate” career employees and send a message that political leadership is calling the shots. Zinke told reporters after the hearing that the senior officials “can either take the move or resign.”

Trump’s Interior Secretary defends his plan to cut at least 4,000 staff was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Trump Just Had 199 People Arrested In Unexpected Overnight Raid After Hearing What They ALL Did

President Trump ordered the arrest and removal of 199 Iraqi citizens in an overnight raid across US States. Already the “Liberal” left is in uproar talking about how Donald Trump is splitting up families; pictures of children missing their fathers

The post Trump Just Had 199 People Arrested In Unexpected Overnight Raid After Hearing What They ALL Did appeared first on Spinzon.

Far-Left Radical Threatens To Kill Trump Because Of “Russia”… Quickly Gets Knock At Door

On Thursday, Illinois resident Joseph Lynn Pickett was arrested and charged for threatening to assassinate President Donald Trump in a series of Facebook rants. In those social media posts, Pickett broadcast his obsession for the conspiracy theories […]

The post Far-Left Radical Threatens To Kill Trump Because Of “Russia”… Quickly Gets Knock At Door appeared first on The Truth Division.

‘Pizzagate’ shooter sentenced to 4 years in prison

The people who helped spread the original conspiracy theory, meanwhile, still have the president’s ear.

Edgar Welch, seen here surrendering to police in December, was inspired to go shoot up a D.C. pizza restaurant by right-wing fever-swamp figures close to the Trump movement who insisted that prominent Democrats are running a child sex trafficking ring. CREDIT: Sathi Soma via AP

The man who fired a rifle inside a Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant, after being inspired by internet conspiracy theorists convinced it was the center of a child sex trafficking ring that involved Hillary Clinton, has been sentenced to four years in prison.

Prosecutors had asked a judge to put Edgar Welch behind bars for 4.5 years in order to “deter other would-be vigilantes” similarly inspired to acts of violence. The four-year term handed down Thursday followed both a guilty plea and a public letter of contrition from Welch.

Welch will also be on supervised release for three years following the completion of his sentence, during which he must undergo a mental health evaluation. He was also ordered to pay about $5,700 in restitution for property damage he caused, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The so-called “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory was stoked in large part by the right-wing website Infowars and its fringe leader Alex Jones, whose foaming coverage of U.S. politics has been promoted for years by more mainstream conservative media figures — and, starting last year, by then-President Elect Donald Trump. (Trump, whose credibility war against what he calls “fake news” has been a damaging central tactic throughout his campaign and tenure as president, later gave Infowars a press credential.)

Comet employee on life during ‘Pizzagate’: ‘If this doesn’t stop someone is going to get killed’

Welch was not the first Pizzagate believer to show up in person at D.C.’s Comet Ping Pong. Groups of right-wing internet detectives bent on proving that Clinton and her close associates had moved child pornography and underage sex slaves through Comet’s doors had protested outside and even entered the restaurant on occasion last summer and fall.

But while Welch wasn’t the first to take the wild-eyed fervor of the Pizzagate web mob out of the comments section, he was the first to engage in physical violence in pursuit of his imagined truth. Welch drove up from North Carolina with a gun, walked into Comet brandishing the weapon, and fired a shot into a door striking no one. He surrendered to police shortly afterward outside.

America’s ‘Most Prolific Conspiracy Theorist’ Reveals He’s Now Advising Donald Trump

Jones and the Infowars crowd have formally apologized for and deleted their Pizzagate coverage, an unusual move for the veteran pot-stirrer and anti-government flamethrower.

Others on the right who amplified the false story — in which powerful liberal politicians were not only child-raping fiends, but also ones who communicated about their activities through email using a verbal code so simple that internet detectives had cracked it from a glance at hacked emails released during last year’s election — have not shown such contrition. Other prominent Trump boosters like Mike Cernovich and Mike Flynn, Jr. have muted their coverage of the story, but continued to insist there’s something sinister going on.

Welch himself, meanwhile, seems ashamed now of what he did.

“I am really sorry for anything I caused,” Welch said in court Thursday according to reports from the room. In his earlier written apology, Welch wrote that his attack was “motivated, at least in part, by unfounded rumors about a child sex-trafficking ring… that involved nationally-known political figures.”

‘Pizzagate’ shooter sentenced to 4 years in prison was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.