Science? We don’t need know stinkin’ science.

If this isn’t just peak Republican Party:

E.P.A. to Limit Science Used to Write Public Health Rules

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is preparing to significantly limit the scientific and medical research that the government can use to determine public health regulations, overriding protests from scientists and physicians who say the new rule would undermine the scientific underpinnings of government policymaking.

A new draft of the Environmental Protection Agency proposal, titled Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, would require that scientists disclose all of their raw data, including confidential medical records, before the agency could consider an academic study’s conclusions. [emphasis mine] E.P.A. officials called the plan a step toward transparency and said the disclosure of raw data would allow conclusions to be verified independently.

“We are committed to the highest quality science,” Andrew Wheeler, the E.P.A. administrator, told a congressional committee in September. “Good science is science that can be replicated and independently validated, science that can hold up to scrutiny. That is why we’re moving forward to ensure that the science supporting agency decisions is transparent and available for evaluation by the public and stakeholders.”

The measure would make it more difficult to enact new clean air and water rules because many studies detailing the links between pollution and disease rely on personal health information gathered under confidentiality agreements. And, unlike a version of the proposal that surfaced in early 2018, this one could apply retroactively to public health regulations already in place.

“This means the E.P.A. can justify rolling back rules or failing to update rules based on the best information to protect public health and the environment, which means more dirty air and more premature deaths,” said Paul Billings, senior vice president for advocacy at the American Lung Association.

Public health experts warned that studies that have been used for decades — to show, for example, that mercury from power plants impairs brain development, or that lead in paint dust is tied to behavioral disorders in children — might be inadmissible when existing regulations come up for renewal.

If you believe what this is really about is more “transparency” I’ve got a bridge to sell you.  I guess if you don’t like what the science has to say about the best policy, just do everything you can to keep the science out.

Impeachment: analogy style

Good stuff here from Nicholas Kristoff:

As the impeachment process unfolds, President Trump’s defenders will throw up dust clouds of complexity. But as the first day of open hearings suggested, it’s simple. Forget about Ukraine and diplomacy for a moment.

Suppose that a low-ranking government official, the head of a branch Social Security office, intervened to halt a widow’s long-approved Social Security payments. The widow, alarmed that without that income she might lose her home, would call the branch director to ask for help.

“I’d like you to do me a favor, though,” the director might respond. He would suggest that her Social Security payments could resume, but he’d like the widow to give him her late husband’s collection of rare coins.

Everybody would see that as an outrageous abuse of power. Whether we’re Republicans or Democrats, we would all recognize that it’s inappropriate for a federal official to use his or her power over government resources to extract personal benefits. The Social Security official could say that the payments eventually resumed, or assert that the widow’s son had engaged in skulduggery — but he’d be out of a job in an instant and would face a criminal investigation.

Likewise, imagine that a high school principal expelled the police chief’s son but offered to readmit the boy if the police department would just open a criminal investigation into his ex-wife before their child custody hearing.

Or suppose that the head of a public hospital offered to provide free medical care to employees of a construction company if it remodeled his kitchen?

Or what if I suggested to a university president that I was planning some glowing columns about his great institution and then asked for “a favor,” noting that my child was applying for admission.

In every case, we might disagree about whether to call this bribery, extortion or a quid pro quo, and might disagree about precisely which statute was violated, but there is no doubt this would be a firing offense and perhaps lead to a criminal investigation.

Shouldn’t we hold the president of the United States to as high a standard as the head of a Social Security office, a principal, a hospital director and a journalist? …

That may no longer be true. Brace yourself in the coming weeks for smoke screens of obfuscation, but anchor yourself to this thought: What if the wrongdoing simply involved the head of a Social Security office, a principal, a hospital director or a journalist? Why allow a president to get away with what would be a firing offense for anyone else?

Yeah, that.  And in this case, doing so– and honestly that’s exactly what the Republicans are doing– fundamentally undermines our democracy.  But, hey, it’s fun and a powertrip to be an elected Republican.

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