By Matthew E. Milliken
Dec. 9, 2016
• “Trump has declined many intelligence briefings offered to him according to Senate aide.” Trump is meeting with plenty of potential political appointees and holding rallies as part of a “Thank you tour,” but he apparently doesn’t think intelligence should occupy very much of his time. Writes CBS News’s Rebecca Shabad: “Even during the campaign, there were reports that Trump was at odds with what intelligence officials briefed him on. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas[,] the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in late October that he told Mr. Trump that Russia was trying to influence the U.S. election through hacking, but he said Mr. Trump rejected that information.” As I tweeted (with a typo!), “It’s hard to escape the feeling that President-Elrct [sic] Donald Trump just isn’t interested in working hard.”
• “The Last Line Of Defense: Federal Bureaucrats Wait Nervously For Donald Trump.” Jessica Schulberg and Amanda Terkel take a deep dive into the anxieties of several (anonymous) federal employees who “often have decades of experience and institutional knowledge that the incoming administration will need to ensure that the federal government doesn’t fall apart under the leadership of new, sometimes inexperienced, political appointees.”
“[W]e’re worried that our president might actually turn out be to a fascist,” one Department of Labor employee says. A worker at the Defense Intelligence Agency says colleagues wonder, “Am I going to be an unwitting enabler of war crimes under this administration?” Says a Democrat in the Environmental Protection Agency (about which see below), “I would take George W. Bush any day over this.”
• “What’s Pushing Down U.S. Life Expectancy?” Dina Fine Maron over at Scientific American interviews Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the National Center for Health Statistics, over newly released 2015 data. An uptick in flu cases may have had a widespread effect, Anderson explains: “The flu can impact other causes of death, and it can cause people with existing chronic conditions to die from those conditions. So someone with heart disease who gets the flu, that flu can precipitate a heart attack, or exacerbate existing chronic lung disease or many other things. For people who are very ill and may be hanging on, they can die sooner than they may have otherwise.” Anderson also notes that accidental suffocation, both in bed and otherwise, may be responsible for an increase in infant mortality.