Whether it’s in trying to land a job or impress a date, people spend a staggering amount of time making claims about themselves. It makes sense: You’re the only person on Earth who has direct knowledge of every thought, feeling, and experience you’ve ever had. Who could possibly know you better than you? But your backstage access to your own mind sometimes makes you the last person on Earth others should trust about it. Think of it like owning a car: Just because you’ve driven it for years doesn’t mean you can pinpoint when and why the engine broke down.
Sixteen rigorous studies of thousands of people at work have shown that people’s coworkers are better than they are at recognizing how their personality will affect their job performance. As a social scientist, if I want to get a read on your personality, I could ask you to fill out a survey on how stable, dependable, friendly, outgoing, and curious you are. But I would be much better off asking your coworkers to rate you on those same traits: They’re often more than twice as accurate. They can see things that you can’t or won’t—and these studies reveal that whatever you know about yourself that your coworkers don’t is basically irrelevant to your job performance.
People know themselves best on the traits that are tough to observe and easy to admit. Emotional stability is an internal state, so your friends don’t see it as vividly as you do. And although people might not want to call themselves unstable, the socially acceptable range is fairly wide, so we don’t tend to feel terribly anxious about being outed as having some anxiety. With more observable traits, we don’t have unique knowledge. If you’re a raging extrovert or a radical introvert, we don’t need to ask you—we can pick it up pretty quickly from your impromptu karaoke performances or your complaints that your husband types too loudly. And with the most evaluative traits, you just can’t be trusted. You probably want to convince everyone—and yourself—that you’re smart and creative.
Over the past few months, I’ve learned a lot about how to overcome those barriers. While recording a podcast, I invited myself into some unconventional workplaces. I was surprised that in each workplace, they made a it big priority to help people gain self-awareness—sometimes it was even part of their performance evaluations. And I walked away with new insights on how people can see themselves more clearly.
Imagine if the White House were organized this way. Presidents are rated all the time in public-opinion polls, but they’d learn a lot more if their own teams evaluated them. Since stability is an internal state, as long as he’s not clinically unstable, President Trump might be able to weigh in on it accurately. But he—like everyone—probably can’t see himself clearly when it comes to traits that are clearly desirable or undesirable, like intelligence.
The first rule of intelligence: Don’t talk about your intelligence. It’s something you prove, not something you claim. As comedian Patton Oswalt quipped about humor, the only person who goes around saying “I’m funny” is a not-funny person. If you were really funny, you’d just make people laugh.
So if I wanted to know how smart political candidates were, I wouldn’t bother with an IQ test. I’d just ask one question: How intelligent do you think you are?
The real geniuses will know it’s not their place to judge.
Presidents are not required to pass mental health exams or psychological and psychiatric evaluations before taking office in the United States. But some Americans and members of Congress have called for such mental health exams for candidates following the 2016 election of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
The idea of requiring presidential candidates to undergo mental health exams is not new, though.
“Many people have called to my attention the continuing danger to our nation from the possibility of a U.S. president becoming disabled, particularly by a neurologic illness,” Carter wrote in a December 1994 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Why the President’s Mental Health Should Be Monitored
Carter’s suggestion led to the creation in 1994 of the Working Group on Presidential Disability, whose members later proposed a nonpartisan, standing medical commission “to monitor the president’s health and issue periodic reports to the country.” Carter envisioned a panel of expert physicians who were not directly involved in the care of the president determining whether he had a disability.
There is currently no such standing medical commission in place, however, to observe a sitting president’s decision-making. The sole test of a candidate’s physical and mental fitness to serve in the White House is the rigor of the campaign trail and elector process.
Why Mental Fitness Became an Issue in the Trump Era
The idea of requiring presidential candidates to undergo mental health evaluations arose in the general election campaign of 2016, primarily because of Republican nominee Donald Trump‘s erratic behavior and numerous incendiary comments. Trump’s mental fitness became a central issue of the campaign and became more pronounced after he took office.
A member of Congress, Democrat Karen Bass of California, called for a mental-health evaluation of Trump before the election, saying the billionaire real-estate development and reality-television star exhibits signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In a petition seeking the evaluation, Bass called Trump “dangerous for our country.
His impulsiveness and lack of control over his own emotions are of concern. It is our patriotic duty to raise the question of his mental stability to be the commander in chief and leader of the free world.” The petition carried no legal weight.
A lawmaker from the opposing political party, Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives during Trump’s first year in office encouraging the vice president and the Cabinet to hire medical and psychiatric professionals to evaluate the president. The resolution stated: “President Donald J. Trump has exhibited an alarming pattern of behavior and speech causing concern that a mental disorder may have rendered him unfit and unable to fulfill his Constitutional duties.”
Lofgren said she drafted the resolution in light of what she described as Trump’s “increasingly disturbing pattern of actions and public statements that suggest he may be mentally unfit to execute the duties required of him.” The resolution did not come up for a vote in the House.
It would have sought the removal of Trump from office by employing the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which allows for the replacement of presidents who become physically or mentally unable to serve.
Trump Declines to Make Health Records Public
Some candidates have chosen to make their health records public, particularly when serious questions have been raised about their well being. The 2008 Republican presidential nominee, John McCain, did so in the face of questions about his age – he was 72 at the time – and previous ailments including skin cancer.
And in the 2016 election, Trump released a letter from his physician that described the candidate as being in “extraordinary” health both mentally and physically. “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,” wrote Trump’s doctor. Trump himself said: “I am fortunate to have been blessed with great genes — both of my parents had very long and productive lives.” But Trump did not release detailed records about his health.
Psychiatrists Can’t Diagnose Candidates
The American Psychiatric Association banned its members from offering opinions about elected officials or candidates for office after 1964, when a group of them called Republican Barry Goldwater unfit for office. Wrote the association:
“On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.”
Who Decides When a President Is Unfit to Serve
So if there’s no mechanism in place by which an independent panel of health experts is able to evaluate a sitting president, who decides when there might be a problem with his decision-making process? The president himself, which is the problem.
Presidents have gone out of their way to hide their ailments from the public and, more importantly, their political enemies. Among the most notable in modern history was John F. Kennedy, who didn’t let the public know about his colitis, prostatitis, Addison’s disease and osteoporosis of the lower back. While those ailments certainly would not have precluded him from taking office, Kennedy’s failure reluctance to disclose the pain he suffered illustrate the lengths to which presidents go to conceal health problems.
Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was ratified in 1967, allows a sitting president, members of his cabinet – or, in extraordinary circumstances, Congress – to transfer his responsibilities to his vice president until he has recovered from a mental or physical ailment.
The amendment reads, in part:
“Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.”
The problem with the constitutional amendment, however, is that it relies on a president or his cabinet to determine when he is unable to perform the duties of the office.
The 25th Amendment Has Been Used Before
President Ronald Reagan used that power in July 1985 when he underwent treatment for colon cancer. Though he did not specifically invoke the 25th Amendment, Reagan clearly understood his transfer of power to Vice President George Bush fell under its provisions.
Reagan wrote to the House speaker and Senate president:
“After consultation with my Counsel and the Attorney General, I am mindful of the provisions of Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution and of the uncertainties of its application to such brief and temporary periods of incapacity. I do not believe that the drafters of this Amendment intended its application to situations such as the instant one. Nevertheless, consistent with my longstanding arrangement with Vice President George Bush, and not intending to set a precedent binding anyone privileged to hold this Office in the future, I have determined and it is my intention and direction that Vice President George Bush shall discharge those powers and duties in my stead commencing with the administration of anesthesia to me in this instance.”
Reagan did not, however, transfer the power of the presidency despite evidence that later showed he might have been suffering from the initial stages of Alzheimer’s.
President George W. Bush used the 25th Amendment twice to transfer powers to his vice president, Dick Cheney. Cheney served as acting president for about four hours and 45 minutes while Bush underwent sedation for colonoscopies.
Oprah Winfrey received a standing ovation at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards on Sunday (07Jan18) as she delivered an empowering speech about taking a stand against sexual misconduct and inequality.
The TV mogul and actress was presented with the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Award, which is given to someone who has made a positive impact on the entertainment world, and showed fans why she was the perfect choice for the accolade as she stepped up to the podium at the Los Angeles ceremony.
Oprah began her speech by recalling how she had been given hope for her own future in media after witnessing history as a little girl back in 1964, when Sidney Poitier became the first African–Americanto win an Oscar, and the significance of her special Globes honor, as the first African–Americanwoman to receive the award, was not lost on her.
She then made reference to President Donald Trump, without naming him outright, as she addressed the importance of freedom of speech and freedom of the press – especially when it comes to reporting the stories of sexual misconduct victims.
“I value the press more than ever before as we try to navigate these complicated times,” Oprah said, “which brings me to this: what I know for sure, is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have, and I’m especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories…
“I want to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault, because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay, and dreams to pursue.”
Oprah, who also shared the story of 1944 kidnap and gang-rape survivor Recy Taylor, concluded her speech by highlighting the Time’s Up campaign to end inappropriate behavior and inequality in the workplace, which stars supported by wearing black to the Globes.
“For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men; but their time is up. Their time is up!,” she exclaimed, as celebrities across the board stood and applauded her call to action.
Following the speech, hordes of celebrities took to Twitter to praise her for her courageous words, while others suggested the speech indicated she might be planning to run for U.S. president in 2020.
Oprah was just one of the many honorees to publicly speak out in support of the Time’s Up movement – Big Little Lies co-stars Laura Dern and Reese Witherspoon also used their acceptance speeches to hammer home the same message.
Dern, who claimed the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, urged people to end the “culture of silencing” which many of them were taught as kids, while Witherspoon encouraged other producers and filmmakers in Hollywood to tell more stories about victims of sexual abuse or harassment – as she did with Big Little Lies, which was named Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television.
Smashing the two party paradigm Noam Chomsky called out deep state democrats and republicans alike for using Trump as a distraction to destroy America.
World-renowned intellectual giant and respected academic, MIT professor Noam Chomsky recently sat down for an interview called ‘A Continuing Conversation with Geographers’. In the interview, he clearly makes his thoughts known regarding the Trump administration’s ongoing media driven pseudo-scandal involving Russia, and specifically concerning Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer.
Chomsky, the author of more than 100 books, including “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media,” in which he breaks down how U.S. corporate media has been weaponized as a means of controlling public opinion by propagandizing the American people, didn’t mince his words, previously noting
“It’s a pretty remarkable fact that — first of all, it is a joke. Half the world is cracking up in laughter. The United States doesn’t just interfere in elections. It overthrows governments it doesn’t like, institutes military dictatorships.”
“Simply in the case of Russia alone—it’s the least of it—the U.S. government, under Clinton, intervened quite blatantly and openly, then tried to conceal it, to get their man Yeltsin in, in all sorts of ways,” said Chomsky. “So, this, as I say, it’s considered—it’s turning the United States, again, into a laughingstock in the world.”
“So why are the Democrats focusing on this?” he said. “In fact, why are they focusing so much attention on the one element of Trump’s programs which is fairly reasonable, the one ray of light in this gloom: trying to reduce tensions with Russia? That’s—the tensions on the Russian border are extremely serious. They could escalate to a major terminal war. Efforts to try to reduce them should be welcomed.”
“Just a couple of days ago,” said Chomsky, “the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Jack Matlock, came out and said he just can’t believe that so much attention is being paid to apparent efforts by the incoming administration to establish connections with Russia.” He said, ‘Sure, that’s just what they ought to be doing.’”
Continuing, Chomsky said, “So, you know, yeah, maybe the Russians tried to interfere in the election. That’s not a major issue. Maybe the people in the Trump campaign were talking to the Russians. Well, okay, not a major point, certainly less than is being done constantly.”
“And it is a kind of a paradox,” he said, “that the one issue that seems to inflame the Democratic opposition is the one thing that has some justification and reasonable aspects to it.”
Maintaining a similar line of thinking in this most recent interview, Chomsky maintained that the Putin meeting should be seen as a responsible gesture of diplomacy rather than collusion with the Russians. He went on to note that the media would better serve the public interest if they actually focused on what is happening behind the scenes of the Trump administration.
“What’s going on is a very systematic two-tiered operation. One of them is Trump, Bannon, the effort to try to make sure you capture the headlines, that you’re top of the news, one crazy thing after another just to capture people’s attention. And the assumption is ‘Well they’re gonna forget later anyway.’”
Essentially, Chomsky believes that the contrived pseudo-scandal that is Russiagate only serves as a distraction from the actual scandalous happenings that are taking place on a daily basis in Washington, D.C., and only serve to embolden the “rich and powerful.”
“While everything is focusing on that, the Paul Ryan republicans, who are, in my view, the most dangerous and savage group in the country, are busy implementing programs that they have been talking quietly about for years. Very savage programs, which have very simple principles. One, be sure to offer to the rich and powerful gifts beyond the dreams of avarice, and [two], kick everyone else in the face. And it’s going on step by step right behind the bluster.”
To drive this point home, Chomsky says one need look no further than the configuration of the cabinet:
“Take a look at the cabinet. The cabinet was designed that way. Every cabinet official was chosen to destroy anything of human significance in that part of the government. It’s so systematic that it can’t be unplanned. I doubt that Trump planned it. My impression is that his only ideology is ‘me’. But whoever is working on it is doing a pretty effective job, and the Democrats are cooperating – cooperating in a very striking way.”
While typically the Democratic party would act as a counterbalance to the GOP agenda, in this Trump-era — with a media circus/reality show environment — Chomsky, a leftist, notes that they have simply played into the media hype over Russia. They are taking what would be looked at under almost any other circumstance as acts of diplomacy and attempting to paint them as scandalous.
“Take a look at the focus in Çongress. It’s one of the few decent things Trump has been doing. So maybe members of his transition team contacted the Russians. Is that a bad thing? Recent ambassador to Russia, Jack Matlock, had a blog where he pointed out that ‘It’s exactly what you should be doing. It’s the job of ambassadors and diplomats coming in. There are serious problems and tensions you want to talk over to see if there’s anything you can do about them. Instead of just building up force and violence.’ That’s what the democrats are focusing on, and meanwhile all these other things are going on and they’re not saying anything about them.”
Over the years, Chomsky has refined what he calls, the ‘propaganda model’ of the corporate mass media. He posits that not only does the media systematically suppress and distort, but when they do present facts, the context obscures the actual meaning. In essence, the mass media uses brainwashing to keep people subservient to large corporate interests.
Thus, Chomsky’s words should be taken extremely seriously when he recently referred to news stories being pushed in the mass corporate media, about Trump-Russia “collusion,” as little more than “a joke.” In fact, he says that this neo-McCarthyist/anti-Russia propaganda degrades one of the positive aspects of the Trump administration – a drive to reduce hostility with rival nuclear power Russia.
Looking back on 2017 is probably not something most of us are prepared to do just yet. That being said, taking a glance at the year’s most-read Culture stories definitely reads like a greatest hits on what captivated our attention in this most crazy of years.
Above the cacophony of Trump gaffs and Twitter feuds, Inverse readers gravitated towards stories that could satisfy their curiosities about this big weird world. From the political (can you legally punch a Nazi?) to the whimsical (what is tentacle porn?), Inverse readers had a lot of questions in 2017. And as technology continues to move at a speed that we can barely keep up with, readers also wanted to know about how apps, AI and the internet at large is affecting our social lives — and our sex lives.
Here are the 25 Culture stories that Inverse readers loved in 2017.
By Emily Gaudette
An adult’s guide to the young Vine star who has matured into a weird — and problematic — Youtube celebrity.
By Grace Scott
When it comes to what imagery is too sexual or explicit for Instagram, female bodies seem to get caught in the crossfire of the debate over what’s appropriate to post online. These images, many of which appear to be quite benign, were still too controversial for the social media platform.
By Rae Paoletta
Joan Howard spent the ‘60s and ‘70s pilfering historical artifacts from the Middle East. Several archaeologists told Rae Paoletta about why Howard’s activities were highly unethical, likely illegal, and deeply offensive.
By Paige Leskin
Jordan Peele made a perfectly-meta dig at Donald Trump over Twitter.
By Katie Way
Civil rights lawyer and activist Dan Siegel spoke to Inverse about the legal parameters of self-defense and Nazis.
By Nick Lucchesi
The person responsible for a sign directing teens to books on tricky topics, from abusive relationships to acne, tells us why it’s important that kids get the information they’re sometimes afraid to ask for.
By Mike Brown
When Google chose to highlight Dutch designer Gerben Steenks in a November doodle, it gave us the perfect excuse to school readers on the fascinating history of the hole punch. It’s actually very interesting!
By Sarah Sloat
The November election was a game-changer for marijuana activists, as legislators in favor of legalization were voted in across the board.
By Emily Gaudette
Jennifer Lawrence’s Vogue cover caused a stir back in August as hardline conservatives argued that the background use of the Statue of Liberty was a cryptic dig at President Trump’s immigration reform. Yes, really.
By Emily Gaudette
Unfortunately, data tends not to lie.
By Cory Scarola
Claiming to be the first of its kind, a sex doll brothel opened up in Spain early in the year. Obviously we decided to write about this, as well as expound upon whether you can get an STI from a sex doll.
After it was revealed that Donald Trump likes his steak disturbingly well done, we decided to look into how the rest of America enjoys their sirloin. It turns out we don’t like it on the rare side either.
By Nick Lucchesi
As the Trump presidency dawned upon America back in January of 2017, people were paying close attention to how government websites might change under new hands. It didn’t take long for the Spanish language option to disappear from WhiteHouse.gov.
By Emily Gaudette
In honor of Independence Day, Ancestry.com gathered living descendants of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence together. For a commercial. Emily Gaudette explores the complicated — and problematic — history behind the advertisement.
By Gabe Bergado
It didn’t end with the dress. Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a professor of psychology at Ritsumeikan University in Japan, created an image that got the internet seeing red.
By Emily Gaudette
When it was announced that the remainder of the JFK files were to be released, conspiracy theorists had a hey day. We theorized on what new information might come to light — and what probably wouldn’t.
By Cory Scarola
The trippy coincidence occurred back in April and captured the nation’s attention. We investigated.
By Jame Grebey
Well, at least as far as an Irish betting house is concerned. Betting odds favoring Trump’s impeachment skyrocketed after Trump dismissed FBI Director James Comey and became embroiled in the investigation into Russian meddling.
By Emily Gaudette
It’s actually a pretty loaded question and depends very much on what you personally define as virginity. We parsed through the data.
By Emily Gaudette
Reddit is the go-to place to talk about and share just pretty much anything, including porn. Emily Guadette details some of the best subreddits out there.
By Emily Gaudette
A deep dive (no pun intended) into the slimy, sexy world of tentacle porn, including its origin and history. Inspired by an “accidental” tweet from Vanity Fair’sKurt Eichenwald of tentacle porn, we felt the internet could use a primer on the genre as Eichenwald’s tweet subsequently went viral.
By Monica Hunter-Hart
Back in the summer it looked as if President Trump’s bombastic twitter habits were about to land him in the legal hot seat. It didn’t exactly happen, but as we enter 2018 with the President still glued to his feed, anything is possible.
By Katie Way
In 2017, we had a lot of questions about the app that seemed to go viral overnight, Saraha. Deriving its name from the Arabic word sarahah, which translates to “honesty” or “candor,” the app lets its brave users send and receive messages anonymously, for better or for worse.
By Gabe Bergado
Oh brother. Throughout a year of outrage, the trailer for Dear White Peopleprompted white supremacists to decry Netflix’s “anti-white agenda.” The reason? The trailer showcases the show’s protagonist, black college student Sam White, stating that white students shouldn’t dress up in blackface on Halloween.
By Cory Scarola
Inverse readers seem to be really curious about porn, because this story was read more than any other in 2017. So where in the world do women watch the most porn? And why do Americans want to watch sexy videos that are Overwatch-themed? We don’t know… but Pornhub has dug up the data, along with so much more about our carnal interests.
The fact that C.E.O. Andrew Liveris is a close adviser to Donald Trump can’t hurt.
Chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and malathion are a group of pesticides that are a big money-maker for Dow Chemical, with the company selling approximately 5 million pounds of chlorpyrifos in the U.S. each year, according to the Associated Press. Dow Chemical, however, has a small problem on its hands, and it’s not the fact that the pesticide was “originally derived from a nerve gas developed by Nazi Germany,” per the AP, though that’s certainly not great for marketing materials. In this case, it’s the fact that studies by federal scientists have found that chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and malathion are harmful to almost 1,800 “critically threatened or endangered species.” Historically, groups like the Environmental Protection Agency would want to avoid killing frogs, fish, birds, mammals, and plants, which is why the regulator and two others that it works with to enforce the Endangered Species Act are reportedly “close to issuing findings expected to result in new limits on how and where the highly toxic pesticides can be used,” the AP reports.
Luckily for Dow, the E.P.A. is now run by climate-change skeptic and general enemy of living things Scott Pruitt, who last month said he would reverse “an Obama-era effort to bar the use of Dow’s chlorpyrifos pesticide on food after recent peer-reviewed studies found that even tiny levels of exposure could hinder the development of children’s brains.” Plus, Dow Chemical C.E.O. Andrew Liveris is good buddies with President Donald Trump. So, you can see how the company, which the AP reports also spent $13.6 million on lobbying last year, might feel like it is in the clear.
According to the AP, lawyers representing Dow and two other companies that manufacture the pesticides in question (known as organophosphates) have sent letters to the heads of the E.P.A, the Department of Commerce, and the Fish and Wildlife Service, asking them to “set aside” the results of the studies, claiming that they are “fundamentally flawed.” Not surprisingly, the scientists hired by Dow “to produce a lengthy rebuttal to the government studies” have come up with diverging results.
In addition to Pruitt’s long history of, per the AP, aligning “himself in legal disputes with the interests of executives and corporations,” Dow has another reason to be hopeful the government will conveniently ignore any lingering concerns about killing off entire species: Andrew Liveris is a close adviser to Donald Trump who was literally standing next to the president in February when he signed an executive order “mandating the creation of task forces at federal agencies to roll back government regulations.”
Dow also donated $1 million to underwrite Trump’s inaugural festivities, the AP reports, but God help the person who dares to wonder aloud if the check was some sort of an attempt to curry favor with the administration. As Rachelle Schikorra, Dow’s director of public affairs, told the AP, any such suggestion is “completely off the mark.”
The flu shot is the greatest scam in medical history, created by Big Pharma to make money off vulnerable people and make them sick, warns President Donald Trump. In an interview with Opie and Anthony on Sirius XM, Trump slammed flu shots as “totally ineffective” and declared that he has never had one. “I’ve never had one. And thus far I’ve never had the flu. I don’t like the idea of injecting bad stuff into your body. And that’s basically what they do. And this one (latest flu vaccine) has not been very effective to start off with. I have friends that religiously get the flu shot and then they get the flu. You know, that helps my thinking. I’ve seen a lot of reports that the last flu shot is virtually totally ineffective.” Trump is right on this – flu shots are the greatest medical fraud in history. They are full of “bad stuff” including formaldehyde and mercury – two powerful neurotoxins – and the vaccine industry even admits that laboratory tests prove the popular jab does not work.
Why is a toxic, medical hoax, backed by nothing but voodoo faith-based dogma and clever marketing, pushed on the whole population every year? Vaccines are the one medicine where no scientific evidence of safety or efficacy is required by anyone: not the FDA, not the CDC and not the media. Congress even passed a law protecting the vaccine industry with absolute legal immunity, even when they manufacture and sell defective products that injure and kill people. And vaccine manufacturers have been lying to us for years about toxic levels of mercury in flu shots. Everybody knows mercury is toxic to inject into the human body. That’s not debated except by irrational anti-science denialists. So why won’t manufacturers remove the mercury? And why does Big Pharma continue to push a product that the vaccine industry admits does not even work?
Watch the video. URL:https://youtu.be/cDARZJxzeoY
Tom Steyer was the biggest campaign donor in 2016, spending $86 million on progressive causes. So what does he do after losing? Fight harder.
TOM STEYER ISN’T your average California tree hugger. The former hedge fund manager—number 1,121 on Forbes’wealthiest people list, with $1.61 billion—was once best known for turning $15 million into $30 billion in about two decades.
But then he went hiking. Steyer and environmental activist and author Bill McKibben spent a day trudging through the Adirondacks. Not long after, Steyer parted ways with the leadership of his company and his oil and gas investments, began to fight the Keystone XL pipeline, and then reinvented himself as a one-man superfund for climate causes. His organization, NextGen Climate, has spent $170 million over the past four years advocating for policies and politicians that help the environment and advance renewable energy.
It’s an uphill battle. Steyer was the largest single donor on either side of the 2016 election—$86 million of his own money. Yet climate change skeptics rule the federal government and many statehouses. Somehow, though, Steyer isn’t acting like a loser. Since November he’s become an even more vocal representative of the nearly two-thirds of Americans who do think human-caused climate change is a real problem. He talked to WIRED about California’s role in science, his own political ambitions (“governor” has a better ring to it than “former hedge fund manager,” right?), and whether Donald Trump could ever possibly, conceivably help save the planet.
WIRED: So Keystone XL has been revived, the Clean Power Plan is in peril, and the former CEO of Exxon is our secretary of state. How are you?
STEYER: I know there are five stages of grief, but my parents raised me to pull up my socks when times get tough. So I really never had the luxury of feeling bad, because right after the election I felt like we needed to figure this thing out.
What is NextGen going to do?
We have been cosponsoring marches with immigrants’ and women’s rights groups. We’ve been running ads against Trump’s nominees and policy positions. And we’ve been organizing resistance activities on the college campuses where we established ourselves during the campaign. We will continue to go on the offensive each time the administration attempts to derail global actions to stop climate change.
During the confirmation hearings for Rex Tillerson, Scott Pruitt, and others, you guys took out attack ads. What’s your goal?
Those guys disagree with us on almost every point. One of the things we strongly believe—and Tillerson was a perfect example—is that the people Trump nominated consistently put corporate interests ahead of American interests. We feel it’s important to get citizens to be reminded of this common thread: that the new administration doesn’t hate working against climate change, they don’t hate science—they just love oil and gas profits.
There’s a wide swath of rural Americans who are happy and hopeful for Trump. Are you reaching out to them?
After the election, the first thing I wanted to know was how our voter registration work on 370 campuses across the country affected turnout. We monitored 12 precincts where there were a lot of millennials and saw that voter turnout was up overall. And turns out, we did do well at rural schools. What we are still trying to figure out is whether that turnout voted Republican or Democrat. That is, if those new voters brought our messaging about politicians who supported climate action to the voting booth.
THE EVOLUTION OF A MAN
From Wall Street to the Adirondacks, billionaire Tom Steyer took an unusual path to becoming the nation’s leading climate change activist. —Lexi Pandell
Given what you know about how policy moves markets, what will we give up when Trump pulls the US out of the Paris agreement?
I was in business for 30 years, and my experience is that the best way to operate is to work fairly and closely with partners over a long period of time. The most expensive way to do business is to do it deal by deal, each of which is highly contentious. If deal by deal is the model, where instead of partners or allies we have counterparts and competitors, that is very expensive, difficult, and dangerous. OK, so look at the Paris agreement: It’s going to force the developed world to change its energy sources. That means the US could be the leader in developing renewable technology for more than a billion people—a huge incoming market—who don’t have electricity at all.
The Paris agreement was a great achievement of American leadership. So the idea that we’re going to walk away and give up leadership of 194 countries, and walk away from our position as a leader in the world for the past 100 years, will be an incredibly expensive and dumb thing to do.
Are there any Republican climate leaders?
You know, we all act like it is an incredible triumph if a Republican shows the remotest respect for climate science. When Kelly Ayotte—who has a dismal 35 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters—voted for the Clean Power Plan, a lot of people said, “Oh, she’s really an environmentalist.” But that’s ignoring her record and the reason why it’s so hard for her and other Republicans to stand up for the environment in this political climate, because they have to stand up to the fossil fuel industry. I think there are a lot of Republicans who know the truth and would like to do the right thing but don’t understand how.
Solar and wind energy costs have been coming down for decades. Why aren’t they replacing fossil fuels faster?
There are a lot of subsidies for oil and gas, things like tax breaks and access to markets. That’s partly because there’s a lot of volatility in the oil and gas markets. Fossil fuels are raw materials that have to be extracted and processed. Wind and solar energy are different. The only costs associated with them are technological. WIRED readers should be familiar with the idea that technology gets better and cheaper every year. That’s not true about fossil fuels. The techniques we use to withdraw them might get better every year, but the price has actually risen over time. If you take away subsidies from fossil fuels, wind and solar are actually cheaper.
You believe businesses can provide solutions to climate change but only with the right government policies. Is that era over?
Well, most of the energy regulation in the US comes from the state level, which lets states like California pursue more ambitious emissions regulations. It also lets states with lots of renewable energy coordinate to share it when needed, but federal regulations would help more.
The issue is going to be, to an extent, what the new administration will do to subsidize fossil fuels—how they can make dirtier fuel, which is more expensive, more attractive. Maybe that means leasing public lands at low prices. But the only thing they can really do to ensure long-term drilling is put in infrastructure, like pipelines.
Do you think there is any chance for Trump to not be awful for climate?
[Long pause.] I don’t think there’s any chance that Trump is going to step up and do the right thing out of the conviction that it’s the right thing to do. But, you know, you can’t really say what’s going to happen, because the world does tend to surprise us. If you didn’t learn that in 2016, then you weren’t paying attention.
Can California’s politicians really create a bulwark against Trump?
The administration has said they’re going to go after their political opponents. California embodies that opponent. Taking money away from health care, in the form of the Medicaid expansion—that would be more than $15 billion from California’s budget. Consider that the state’s general fund budget is about $120 billion. They are also going after cities that resist their deportation efforts. They’re talking about withholding money from schools. This is gigantic and very, very threatening. If you talk about trying to stand up as best we can for the people of California, and by doing so put forward a different image of what the true values of Americans are, just be aware, it ain’t cheap. My point is, this is not a theoretical problem for us.
How potent is the state’s ability to resist?
Financing that opposition will be tricky. First, the California budget is leveraged really highly to the personal income and capital gains of the richest Californians. That means it is super volatile, because incomes go up and down much more often than property values, which is how most states finance themselves. What’s worse is that the budget is also highly leveraged to the stock market. So when tech companies are going public and things are happening, then that income for the employees who benefit gets taxed in California like regular income. If there are no tech IPOs, the tech sector isn’t doing well, so there aren’t a lot of stock profits—equity profits—from those companies, and that hits the revenue line of the California state budget [claps loudly] super hard. You may have also noticed that we have had a bull market for the past six years.
In January, in an op-ed for The Sacramento Bee, you wrote about creating “the broadest coalition possible, one that embraces our shared values and delivers on the promise of a better future for all Americans.” You even echo Obama’s “Let’s get to work.”
Maybe he stole that from me!
Well, it reads like you are a guy getting ready to run for office.
[Slaps table.] Well, our mission statement is: “Act politically to prevent climate disaster and promote prosperity for every American.” So are we broadening our message? That’s always been our message. Whatever I do, and I honestly don’t know what it is, will be consistent with that effort.
President Donald Trump “didn’t care or particularly know about health care” despite trying to push a major reform bill through Congress, a senior Republican aide has reportedly claimed.
Mr Trump and top House Republican Paul Ryan tasted defeat on Friday when they were forced to pull the bill, designed to replace Barack Obama’s flagship Affordable Care Act, because they could not get enough votes within their own party to pass it.
The President blamed Democrats for failing to support the plan, but the self-professed dealmaker also said: “We learned a lot about loyalty, we learned a lot about the vote-getting process.” He insisted “Obamacare will explode” eventually and that opposition politicians would see the light and work with him on a new plan.
Vice President Mike Pence and budget director Mick Mulvaney joined Mr Trump in aggressive lobbying for votes with members of the dissenting Republican Freedom Caucus faction, and the President had also tried to court moderates.
However, a Republican congressional aide told CNN: “He didn’t care or particularly know about health care. If you are going to be a great negotiator, you have to know about the subject matter.”
CNN also reported that during a meeting with moderate Republicans, when Pennsylvania congressman Charlie Dent said he did not support the repeal-and-replace bill, Mr Trump said: “Why am I even talking to you?”
In his meeting with the Freedom Caucus the President reportedly urged sceptical legislators to ignore the “little s***” of the policy detail and give him the support he needed.
Among the group’s objections was the “essential health benefits” clause of the bill.
It said that requiring insurance companies to cover a list of items—including, but not limited to, access to mental health services, substance abuse counselling, physical therapy, maternal care and paediatric care like vaccinations—would raise premiums.
The American Health Care Act, Mr Trump and Mr Ryan’s proposed plan, would have left 24 million people uninsured by 2026 according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
The CBO also said that while it would have saved the government money, people’s insurance premiums would have risen by between 15 and 20 per cent above the expected increase under Obamacare.