Nel's New Day

April 29, 2017

DDT: Nel’s 100 Day Report

“No administration has accomplished more in its first 90 days.” Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) statement might be right. Here’s a brief summary:

  • Jan. 21: The largest protest in history of the nation with the Women’s March
  • Jan. 28: Huge protests over Trump’s first Muslim ban.
  • Jan. 30: Order from Sally Yates for Justice Department to not defend Trump’s Muslim ban.
  • Jan. 31: Protests over Trump selection of Gorsuch for Supreme Court.
  • Jan. 31: Statehouse rallies to protest Trump’s immigration policies.
  • Feb. 2: 314 Action formed to promote science and scientists in politics.
  • Feb. 4: National judicial injunction against first Trump Muslim ban.
  • Feb. 7: National movement begins after Elizabeth Warren “persists.”
  • Feb. 7: First time in history that a VP had to break a tie for cabinet appointment.
  • Feb. 7: Launch of “Let America Vote.”
  • Feb. 9: Protest against Andy Pudzer’s nomination as secretary of labor.
  • Feb. 10: Rally for reproductive rights.
  • Feb. 13: Resignation of Michael Flynn as national security advisor.
  • Feb. 15: Withdrawal of Andy Puzder as nominee for labor secretary.
  • Feb. 15: “Day without Immigrants” protest.
  • Feb. 17: EPA employees protest against Scott Pruitt as Secretary of EPA.
  • Feb. 22: Millions of faxes to congressional offices supporting Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).
  • Feb. 25: Protests supporting transgender rights for students.
  • Feb. 25: Protests supporting the Affordable Care Act.
  • Feb. 25: Protests supporting a free press.
  • Feb. 27: Democratic win in Delaware special state senate election.
  • Feb. 28: Democratic win two of three Connecticut special elections.
  • March 2: Recusal of Jefferson Sessions III recuses from DDT-Russia connection investigations.
  • March 2: Protest march calling for resignation of Jefferson Sessions as attorney general.
  • March 15: Second Muslim ban blocked in court.
  • March 21: David Trott an example of GOP members of Congress afraid of their own “town hall” events.
  • April 5: Steve Bannon removal from the National Security Council.
  • April 6: Democratic filibuster of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court while GOP changes Senate rules.
  • April 6: Recusal of Devin Nunes from House investigation into Trump–Russia connections.
  • April 11: GOP bare win in Kansas special election, one of the reddest districts in the nation.
  • April 12: Continuation of GOP members of Congress running from their own town halls.
  • April 13: Vulnerable GOP congressman slammed at his town hall.
  • April 13: Children and Youth “Stand up to Trump” rally at White House.
  • April 17: Tax day protesters calling for Donald Trump to release his tax returns.
  • April 18: Democratic candidate within two points of majority, forcing runoff, in Georgia election for Newt Gingrich’s old district.
  • April 18: Protesters calling for removal of Bill O’Reilly for sexual assault.
  • April 19: Fox network firing of O’Reilly.
  • April 22: Hundreds of thousands of protesters in March for Science. [find sign from Ann]
  • April 24: Thousands of people at town hall meetings during the past two weeks for GOP members of Congress discouraging them from voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act. https://business.facebook.com/AmericanProgressAction/videos/10154593852870847/
  • April 26: Failure to pass his budget that was postponed for another seven day
  • April 28: Failure put Trumpcare up for a vote.
  • April 29: People’s Climate March.
  • And much more!

DDT has been inspirational for country although he failed to pass any legislation, and almost all of his 30 executive orders were toothless–just setting up reviews or making comments. Others were blocked by the courts. The Guardian describes DDT’s signatures on “25 executive orders, 24 memorandums and 20 proclamations” during his first 93 days as “more cosmetic than substantive.”

The emphasis on the first 100 days of a U.S. president began with Franklin D. Roosevelt who faced a country in crisis on his first day, compared to DDT who inherited a growing economy and shrinking unemployment. A week after his inauguration, FDR reopened the banks and then restored public confidence in financial institutions with the Glass-Stegall Act, overturned 20 years ago. In his first 100 days, FDR signed 15 major pieces of legislation to alleviate the suffering in the nation and went on to create 250,000 jobs with the Civilian Conservation Corps and the predecessor of Social Security with the Federal Emergency Relief Act. His early successes led to the federal minimum wage, federal employees’ rights to unionize, the SEC, the Labor Relations Board, and on and on.

President Obama also inherited a disaster after the gigantic losses caused by George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy and expenditures for two enduring wars. A stimulus plan to stop the horrific loss of jobs and increases in home foreclosures was passed in eight days, and President Obama moved on to pass a budget resolution and major legislation on worker’s rights and health care that had been stalled or vetoed under Bush. At President Obama’s 100-day mark, polls showed an approval rate of 65 percent with only 29 percent disapproval.

What DDT has done:

  • Bombed two countries without provocation and alienated at least nine allies.
  • Overturned most of his promises for the “first 100 days” and charted up the greatest number of flip-flops.
  • Achieved the lowest approval rate during this time of any other president.
  • Collected a cabinet full of members who universally work to overturn their agencies’ missions.
  • Continued making money off his businesses in violation of the constitution’s emoluments clause.
  • Lost at least 16 of his nominations and hirings because of ethics problems, Breitbart smears, or “disloyalty.”
  • Revoked several orders from President Obama such as now giving “hunters” permission to kill bear cubs in their dens during hibernation while on federal lands.
  • Spent more on personal travel in less than 70 days than President Obama did in eight years.
  • Golfed more times—at least 17—than his predecessors put together.

Leonard Pitts wrote:

“The 12 weeks since January 20 have seen more scandal, international incidents, incompetence, instability, lies and jaw-dropping embarrassments than the previous 12 years combined. America is threatened as it has never been before.”

Mark Sumners list of DDT’s “Bans, Bombs, and Chocolate Cake” shows that no modern president has promised more and provided less. He sees his work as occasionally talking with foreign leaders, signing orders, and leaving all his responsibilities to others–primarily his son-in-law Jared Kushner. DDT’s total accomplishment has been to create a culture in U.S. leadership, law enforcement, and society of cruelty, polarization, and fabrication of facts while putting a person with the same philosophy on the Supreme Court. People in the United States now live in an atmosphere of hatred, fear, violence, and prejudice.

DDT promised to do the following on his first day: repealing President Obama’s healthcare, fixing the VA, putting a 35-percent tariff on companies that move offshore, designating China a currency manipulator, reverse every Obama executive order, propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress, and starting work on the wall. He promised a plan to defeat ISIS within 30 days. DDT reversed his opinion on China, signed one executive order on the VA, failed to repeal the health car, and has only enough money to build seven miles of the 2,000-mile wall. There is no plan to defeat ISIS.

On the campaign trail DDT described the United States as a dystopia and said that he would “make America great again” so quickly that “your head will spin.” People will get tired of winning, he claimed, but “I alone can fix it.” The only problem in the nation, according to DDT, was the problem of “stupid” leaders who didn’t know how simple these issues are. DDT discovered after his inauguration that some of these issues were “hard” and “complicated,” so much so that he has no legislative victory during his first 100 days even with a GOP-controlled Congress. There is no winning yet.

DDT’s economic plans are tax cuts for the rich, deregulation for the powerful, and wage suppressions the rest of the people. His overarching goal is to create the dystopia that he described. His white supremacist adviser Steve Bannon promised to “deconstruct” the United States, and the result is to destroy the essence of the nation by blending kleptocracy, government by leaders seeking only wealth and power, and kakistocracy, government by the worst leaders. EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt is a prime example because he plans to return the U.S. to a land of contaminated water and smog-filled air—in short, a plan unfit for habitation. DDT’s friend Carl Icahn picked Pruitt for the job because Pruitt opposed an ethanol rule that cost one of Icahn’s refineries over $200 million a year. Pruitt had already sued the EPA 14 times, 13 of them on behalf of his campaign donors and workers. DDT’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, says that climate science expenditures are “a waste of money…. We’re not spending money on that anymore.” DDT tried to build his supporter base by executive orders with the promise of bringing back coal jobs, but a few thousand jobs weren’t enough to raise his approval rating.

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, who vowed to do away with the agency if he could remember its name, administrated one of the worst states in the nation in terms of health and education. Texas’ schools are among the worst in the nation, and the rates of teen mothers and uninsured people are among the highest. Perry is a strong supporter of pipelines; the two approved will provide 75 permanent jobs but create billions in losses for taxpayers from oil spills.

The latest Gallup poll gives DDT 41-percent approval rating, the lowest at this time of any presidency since polling on this issue started. Almost half of respondents—45 percent—told an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that DDT is off to a “poor start” in office. Forty percent said “good” or “great” start compared to 54 percent who said the same thing about President Obama for his first 100 days. Only 25% of people in a NBC News poll consider Trump honest and trustworthy, and only 27 percent consider him “knowledgeable and experienced enough to handle the presidency.” Only 21 percent said he had the “right temperament.” Fifty-seven percent said that the government should do more to solve problems compared to the 39 percent who think government does too much—the most progressive response since the poll began asking the question 20 years ago. About having his daughter and son-in-law in his administration, 61 percent disapprove.

Yes, DDT, no other administration did more in the first 90 days in vulgarity, lying, fraud, uncaring ignorance, and vindictiveness. He doesn’t even have the courage to go to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner today; instead he’s holding a rally to campaign for 2020. Peter Dreier pointed out on The Nation, DDT revitalized Alec Baldwin’s career and expanded Melissa McCarthy’s visibility on Saturday Night Live.

More sources about DDT’s first 100 days: A list;  damage to the workers; more harm to workers; business giveaways; failures in the Middle East; disasters in Asia/Pacific; harm to women and familiescorporate government; and   environmental damage.

About the presidency, DDT said, “I thought it would be easier.” It’s harder on the rest of us.

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April 28, 2017

DDT: Week Fourteen, More Failures

The quarterly GDP report just came out, and the average 0.7 percent increase is bad news for news for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) who bragged that his leadership would move the gross domestic product skyhigh. Instead the GDP for his first quarter is the worst in three years. Why do people vote for Republicans? In a statement of how DDT is struggling, he said, “I thought it would be easier.” This is DDT’s classic statement as he reflects on his first 100 days. “I loved my previous life. I had so many things going.” Many other people wish he were back in his previous life too after his string of failures.

Alienation of South Korea: After picking a fight with North Korea, DDT attacked South Korea by threatening to terminate the U.S. trade agreement with South Korea because the five-year-old accord was “a horrible deal” that has left America “destroyed.” To make things worse, he told South Korea that they should pay the $1 billion for the U.S. missile-defense system, Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense (Thaad), to be installed in South Korea as protection against a North Korean attack.

Flynn’s Failure: When Michael Flynn, National Security Adviser for 24 days, started the chant of “Lock her up” about candidate Clinton last summer, he said that he’d be in prison if he did one-tenth of the things that she had done. Maybe he will be incarcerated. The investigation into Flynn has already shown that he likely took money from Russia without notification to the U.S. after the Pentagon warned him against doing it and that his work for Turkey has a Russian connection. Meanwhile, DDT is trying to cover for Flynn’s illegal activities by refusing to release any information about him. Now the Pentagon has joined the investigation into Flynn, and DDT’s AG Jess Sessions has recused himself from the whole problem. Maybe if FBI James Comey had been more worried about real treason and not Hillary Clinton’s emails?

The Wall: Press Secretary Sean Spicer is trying to cover for DDT’s backing off from his main promise by saying that it was a priority and not a demand, but DDT tweeted that the drug problem will never be solved without a wall. Yet 56 percent responses to a poll agree that DDT hasn’t accomplished much, and 47 percent of the blame goes to DDT. The GOP gets 25 percent blame and Democrats only seven percent. At the same time, the majority of people—a number that is growing—oppose building the wall, and an increasing number want money put into infrastructure instead. Texans oppose the wall as much as Mexico on the possibility of making Mexico so instable that it becomes another Venezuela as well as flooding and sewage in the Rio Grande River.

Tax Increases: DDT may have hoped that his shiny new tax plan would distract from his other problems, but it’s going downhill fast. Presenter and Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin knows that it gives cuts to the wealthy but can’t guarantee that “no one in the middle class is gonna pay more.” At least DDT will get a big cut with his own plan. A 65-year study by the Congressional Research Office found no correlation between cutting taxes and economic growth.

Latest Executive Order Overturned: Judge William Orrick, of the federal Northern District for California, has blocked DDT’s threat to cut off funds to sanctuary cities if they refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities. A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked an executive order by Donald Trump which threatened to cut off funds to sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities. The injunction retains the right to identify sanctuary cities and withhold certain grants but cannot alter the way federal funds are spent because that power lies within the congressional, not the presidential, branch of government. The Justice Department said that the order applies only to the failure in sharing citizenship information as required by law and three federal grants that require compliance as a pre-condition. Orrick said that this defense is worthless because law already permits it, leaving no purpose for the executive order. He also said that DDT’s rhetoric and surrogate statements, including those from the AG, contradicted the interpretation that the Justice Department tried to place on it. Orrick said:

“The President has called it ‘a weapon’ to use against jurisdictions that disagree with his preferred policies of immigration enforcement, and his press secretary has reiterated that the President intends to ensure that ‘counties and other institutions that remain sanctuary cites don’t get federal government funding in compliance with the executive order.'”

Press Secretary Sean Spicer had said that the administration stood behind its threats to eliminate law enforcement funding to those cities. The federal government is now trying to decide on a definition of “sanctuary” jurisdictions.

Massive Donor Errors for Inauguration: Inauguration Donor Fraud?: Follow the rubles. A crowdsourced data project at HuffPost found massive mistakes in DDT’s final campaign report with the was filled with mistakes—missing addresses, vacant lots used for addresses, anonymous or fake names, etc.—showing that even basic checks on accuracy were made.

Failure of Conservative Press Control: Unhappy with the sometimes factual reporting in the mainstream press, DDT has been wooing the far-right outlets and frequently failing. After they didn’t support his healthcare plan, he called them to the White House last Monday to tell them—gently, for him—to shape up. It wasn’t a success: they’re still complaining about the lack of attention that DDT has given them despite his favoritism. They’re also upset that they were told to leave their phones outside the room and not to report on what was said until 30 minutes into the meeting. The result was bad press from conservatives about DDT’s communications team. 

Empty Rooms: Cite Priebus: The Senate has confirmed 26 of DDT’s picks for his Cabinet and other top posts, but he’s nominated only 37 people for 530 other vacant senior-level jobs requiring Senate confirmation.

Disappearance of Zombie Healthcare Bill—Again: Once again, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) couldn’t get the votes for the revised healthcare bill. The ultra-conservatives loved it because it takes insurance from more people, but the more centrist GOP members balked. One embarrassment for the GOP is that the failed bill exempted members of Congress and their staff: they can keep all their benefits. Once this fact came to light, GOP representatives talked about changing their minds about piece of the bill.

No Budget: The House passed a one-week extension on passing the budget to keep the government functioning for another seven days. The reason may be to prevent a shutdown on DDT’s 100th day tomorrow. The GOP House follows the pattern of teenagers who do no school work and then ask for an extension. And the action saves DDT the embarrassment of a government shutdown on his 100th day.

The United States has become so racist—including some law enforcement officials—that Sanya Gragg has published a book on the “talk” with black children: what they should do to stay ALIVE. Momma, Did You Hear The News?, a picture book for small children, gives this directions if they are confronted by the police, even if they’re just innocently walking down the street.

  • A – Always use your manners
  • L – Listen and comply
  • I – In control of your emotions
  • V – Visible hands always
  • E – Explain everything

Something else that white children don’t have to face.

Much more about DDT’s last week, but tomorrow is his 100th day—and lots more for another post.

Meanwhile, cheers for recently retired GOP Judge GOP Judge Doug McCullough, who resigned from the North Carolina Appeals Court a month before his date of mandatory retirement to allow the Democrat governor to replace him. McCullough is disgusted with the legislature’s blatant attempt to strip the new governor of any appointment abilities, going so far as to pass a bill to reduce the court from 15 to 12 so that newly elected Roy Cooper cannot fill any vacancies. An attempt to override Cooper’s veto leaves the governor with a small window of opportunity. Cooper’s new appointment, Judge John Arrowood, is the first openly gay member of the North Carolina court of appeals. McCullough is a man with ethics.

April 26, 2017

Announcement of Tax ‘Reform’ (aka Tax Cuts for Wealthy) to Cover for Flynn, Trumpcare

Almost all the news today has been about the new tax plan from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). The time is probably to divert media coverage from the scandal surrounding DDT’s former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, and the struggles of the new Trumpcare health plan that he said would pass the House today. At this time, the conservative Freedom Caucus is on board with Trumpcare because it removes healthcare from many people, but the moderates haven’t confirmed that they will vote for it yet. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has enough trouble figuring out how to keep the government open past Friday without passing the budget that has not even been considered.

Retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell under George W. Bush, said that Flynn is either “one of the dumbest individuals who’s ever lived or … he really had some nefarious purposes.” Even GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), chair of the Oversight Committee, admitted that Flynn might not have complied with the law, but he blamed former President Obama after DDT refuses to reveal any documents about vetting, hiring, and dismissing Flynn for his 24-day tenure with the current White House administration. Flynn became the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2012 but left in 2014, over a year before he took the undisclosed payment from Russia’s state-owned news agency, Russia Today, in December 2015. Chaffetz has said that he won’t be running for re-election in 2018 and that he may resign from Congress before that.

By “nefarious purposes,” Wilkerson wrote that he meant activities ranging from “taking money for influencing your government on behalf of another government, to using your influence with the President and his cabinet on an issue for another government whom you are privately advising, even if pro bono. “The $33,000 that Flynn received for a speaking engagement in December 2015 was not on his application. Chaffetz said.

“I see no evidence or no data to support the notion that Gen. Flynn complied with the law. He was supposed to seek permission and receive permission from both the secretary of state and the secretary of the Army prior to traveling to Russia to not only accept that payment, but to engage in that activity.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), top minority member on the Oversight Committee, said that Flynn’s negligence on his SF86 forms could be punished by up to five years in prison but that decision was not up to the congressional committee. Flynn’s secret conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, is being investigated by the House Intelligence Committee, which Chaffetz said would take the lead on examining whether those contacts themselves were inappropriate. Last month, he asked for immunity in exchange for immunity from prosecution, but neither committee has accepted his offer.

Another high official, DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, has also filed applications with omissions such as dozens of foreign contacts, including those with Kislyak and Russian bank CEO Sergey Gorkov in December. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) tweeted earlier this week:

“Dear Jared Kushner: Lying on the SF-86 security clearance form is a crime. Michael Flynn hired a lawyer. You may also want to hire a lawyer.”

Back to the tax plan. Here it is—all 226 words, including the title:

 

2017 Tax Reform for Economic Growth and American Jobs

The Biggest Individual And Business Tax Cut in American History

Goals for Tax Reform

  • Grow the economy and create millions of jobs
  • Simplify our burdensome tax code
  • Provide tax relief to American families—especially middle-income families
  • Lower the business tax rate from one of the highest in the world to one of the lowest
  • Individual Reform

Tax relief for American families, especially middle-income families:

  • Reducing the 7 tax brackets to 3 tax brackets for 10%, 25% and 35%
  • Doubling the standard deduction
  • Providing tax relief for families with child and dependent care expenses

Simplification:

  • Eliminate targeted tax breaks that mainly benefit the wealthiest taxpayers.
  • Protect the home ownership and charitable gift tax deductions.
  • Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax.
  • Repeal the death tax.
  • Repeal the 3.8% Obamacare tax that hits small businesses and investment income.

Business Reform:

  • 15% business tax rate
  • Territorial tax system to level the playing field for American companies
  • One-time tax on trillions of dollars held overseas
  • Eliminate tax breaks for special interests

Process:

Throughout the month of May, the Trump administration will hold listening sessions with stakeholders to receive their input and will continue working with the House and Senate to develop the details of a plan that provides massive tax relief, creates jobs, and makes America more competitive — and can pass both chambers.

 

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin claimed that 100 people in his department worked on the tax plan, making it about two words per person. Lily Batchelder, former chief tax counsel of the Senate Finance committee, tweeted that the plan was “immensely costly and regressive.”

Benefitting from DDT’s plan are the popular “pass-through entities,” 94 percent of all companies in the nation by 2011, that distribute profits among owners instead of paying corporate taxes. Owners then have these profits taxed as normal income. This organization is popular not only with small companies but also highly profitable ones such as major law firms, hedge funds, and real estate developers. The Trump Organization is a pass-through that would greatly benefit from DDT’s plan, as would all his friends. At this time, 70 percent of income from these corporations goes to the top one percent of people in the nation. Today, Mnuchin said that the new 15-percent rate would be only for small and medium-sized businesses with no definition of “medium.” A business worth $5 million is considered “small.” The plan would allow high-wage workers into pass-through entities by setting themselves up as S corporations to “sell” their freelance services.

A comparison to DDT’s tax plan is Gov. Sam Brownback’s 2012 tax cuts in Kansas which ended up being a monumental failure. The state’s credit rating has been downgraded and suffers from an ongoing budget crisis, including horrific cuts in such vital areas as education, from a $1.1 billion shortfall. The GOP is now rebelling against the governor, voting to undo the cuts and almost overruling Brownback’s veto. When Kansas completely exempted pass-through profits from state income tax, a large number of people filed for the break, but few new jobs were created. In 2016, Kansas had the fifth worst employment growth in the nation, and its economy has grown at half the national rate. The state’s credit rating has been downgraded and suffers from an ongoing budget crisis, including horrific cuts in such vital areas as education, from a $1.1 billion shortfall. The GOP is now rebelling against the governor, voting to undo the cuts and almost overruling Brownback’s veto.

Research showed that the Kansas plan, now proposed for the United States, merely encourages people to play the system. DDT’s system could take 20 percent from their taxes According to the conservative Tax Foundation, dropping the rate to 15 percent would reduce government revenue by $2 trillion over a decade, or about 5 percent. Allowing pass-throughs to pay the lower rate would add another $1.5 trillion loss of revenue to the country. DDT claims that his plan will increase economic growth. Alan Cole, a staff economist for the Tax Foundation, stated that the country’s annual growth rate could add about 0.12 percent, which, he said, isn’t a good trade for a cost of $1.5 trillion. “This would be Kansas on steroids,” Eric Toder, co-director of the Tax Policy Center, said about DDT’s plan.

Without looking at DDT’s tax returns, we can almost guarantee that he would vastly benefit from his tax plan. He reports owning more than 200 LLCs, and his approximately 500 businesses are almost all pass-throughs. So much for his promises of helping the “little guys.”

April 25, 2017

Zombie Health Care Bill Returns

Filed under: Health Care — trp2011 @ 9:40 PM
Tags: , , , ,

After petulantly demanding his “beautiful wall” for the past week, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) blinked and withdrew his demand last night. That leaves the specter of his health care—if at first you don’t succeed, try try again—and make it worse. That’s the case with DDT’s latest incarnation he wants for at least one legislative notch on his first 100 days.

The deal tries to bring in the ultra-right wing of the House by allowing waivers for states that want to charge higher—far higher—premiums to the 52 million people with pre-existing conditions that can include depression, obesity—even pregnancy. This is a partial list of how much could be added to regular health insurance premiums for different conditions. [Note: These costs aren’t the premiums; they’re the extra!]

  • Breast Cancer: $28,660
  • Pregnancy: $17,060
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: $26,180
  • Lung cancer: $71,880
  • Diabetes: $5,510
  • Drug dependence: $20,140
  • Asthma: $4,270
  • Metastatic cancer : $142,650

With the new bill, states could also exempt the Essential Health Benefits from insurance if they could show that it would lower premiums, increase the number of people insured, or “advance another benefit to the public interest in the state.” Essential Health Benefits: care outside the hospital, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, prescription drugs, rehab services, lab services, preventive care and chronic disease management, and pediatric services. These covers almost all health care needs, meaning that insurers can disallow all health care in health insurance or make it so expensive that people would choose to go without the insurance.

Another waiver available to the states under the proposed law would loosen restrictions on higher premium charges for older people over those for younger people. In addition, the bill would provide high-risk pools for people who couldn’t afford insurance, but these have been proved failures, underfunded by government with poor coverage and high costs.

DDT has promised everyone that “Obamacare” is a disaster, and he has plans to make sure that he’s right. Instead of leaving it alone, he is working on regulations that help the insurance companies and hurt the consumers.

  • The sign-up period is cut in half, from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, 2017 instead of lasting until Jan. 31, 2018.
  • Insurance companies can refuse to sell policies to consumers who fail to make all their premium payments this year instead of a 90-day grace period before losing their insurance.
  • People who need to obtain coverage after the open enrollment must provide documentation that they have had such life changes as marriage, having a child, or moving.
  • The IRS stopped its plans rejecting tax returns if people did not say whether they had coverage.
  • Advertising for the Affordable Care Act, available until January 31, 2017, was pulled immediately after DDT’s inauguration: although enrollment was ahead of the previous year through mid-January, the final 2017 enrollment was down four percent.
  • Coverage may be less comprehensive with less coverage, lowering the value of tax credit subsidies for premiums.
  • Tax subsidies may be reduced so that premiums won’t be affordable for low- and middle-income people.

DDT has also threatened to cut off cost-sharing reductions paid to insurers covering the poorest enrollees. In addition to great instability, DDT’s “plan” will cause premium costs to skyrocket in addition to increased costs for taxpayers.

And DDT can do worse:

  • Broaden or narrow the definitions of some of the 10 broad benefit categories  which de facto eliminates them.
  • Depress enrollment by drastically expanding the definition of “hardship” which exempts people from the individual mandate.
  • Drop the former administration’s legal defense of an ACA rule mandating contraception coverage.
  • Impose work requirements on low-income people on Medicaid expansion.
  • Carry through with the promised 17.9 percent cut in the HHS budget.
  • Let the software and personnel architecture crumble.
  • Allow disastrous waivers to states for “experiments.”

An example of the last problem could happen in Kentucky. The state developed an exemplary health care system, but it lost many of its gains with a GOP governor, Matt Bevin, who wants to administer vision and dental Medicaid through punishment. Desperate to gain back the bad publicity he received with his threat to take health care from 18 percent of his residents, he set up “MyRewards Accounts” in which poor people will be required to meet a list of prorated behavioral requirements for their health care. People on Medicaid will lose their vision and dental care with paying premiums and a $1,000 deductible. Bevin says that they can earn back these costs with such good behavior as job training, health screening, smoking cessation, volunteering, and educational programs.

Linking accounts to work comes from a misconception about people who need Medicaid that Bevin and millions of others hold. In Kentucky, only 15 percent of people on Medicaid are abled adults—in fact, almost 50 percent are children—and most of these adults are already working, looking for work, or in school. Of the others, three-fourths are caretakers for a family member. That’s a small number of people for a massive expensive and invasive database which will be privatized.

Bevin’s plan would give negative “MyRewards” chits, actually fines, for going to the emergency room too often. For example, the first visit would cost $20 and would go up to $75 by the third visit. The ER can be the only health care for a person who cannot find a provider who accepts Medicaid. The plan also fails to understand the loop of how less-covered people are sicker and sicker people are less able to work.

The cockamamie idea comes from Medicaid restrictions by Vice President Mike Pence when he was governor of Indiana. Pence got his idea from Seema Verma, the current administrator of Medicare and Medicaid Services. Although some employers use wellness incentive programs, they are positive and not punitive like Pence’s and Verma’s plan that keeps people from any health care if they don’t accomplish the goals.

Insurers must set their premiums in the market exchanges for 2018 by June 21, 2017. Dana Milbank wrote:

“’The evidence is strong that the ACA is not dying of natural causes, but with the president’s recent comments it’s clear that it could die of suspicious causes,’ says Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan outfit that studies health care. In the current environment, insurers ‘are just not going to stick around and take big risks,’ Levitt tells me. ‘They’ll just take their marbles and invest elsewhere. It would be a very rational decision.’”

Before DDT put his little hands on the health care system, it was healthy. The credit-rating agency Standard & Poor found “marked improvement” in the individual market for most Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers that were forecast to be “close to break-even margins” in 2017. Disruptive actions, however, block the market’s stability and cause insurers to either raise their prices or just leave it.

DDT may be playing a dangerous game. A Kaiser poll revealed that 61 percent would blame DDT and the GOP for any upcoming problems with the Affordable Care Act, compared with 31 percent who would blame President Obama and the Democrats. DDT’s new regulations make it “Trumpcare.”

The end result of DDT’s new regulations is like a teacher telling students that they will fail a class and then changing their answers to make sure it happens. And a majority of people in the U.S. disagree with destroying “Obamacare”: 61 percent want “Obamacare” kept and fixed, and a larger number—79 percent–want DDT to make the current law work and not fail. In addition, 62 percent want nationwide minimum insurance coverage standards, and 70 percent want mandatory protection for pre-existing conditions. These figures show a marked increase after the GOP’s pitch for “Trumpcare” since DDT’s inauguration.

The conservative Freedom Caucus may be on board with DDT’s new plan. Tomorrow we may find out what the other Republicans in the House think of taking health care away from their constituents.

April 23, 2017

Earth Day 2017

Filed under: Religion,Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:59 PM
Tags:

For centuries, indigenous peoples around the world understood the importance of caring for their environment—that “there is no Plan B” for our planet. Smaller religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism appreciate the interdependence between humans and the Earth. Hebrew scriptures, used for Jewish and Christian religions, recognize God’s ownership of the earth, and 750 reference to ecology in the Qu’ran explain caring for the environment. In 2015, Pope Francis wrote Laudato Si (“Care for Our Common Home”), the connection of human behavior to global warming, and defined a sustainable environment as a moral imperative. The Dalai Lama endorsed the pope’s pronouncement.

The European invasion of America was one of destruction. They considered the American natives to be inferior to Anglos and found the two continents’ vast resources useful only for their all-consuming need to become more and more wealthy. In the nineteenth century, men plundered the massive buffalo herds, necessary for life in North America, and left the carcasses to rot. Farmers depleted the soil land and moved on to another area when it no longer supported crops. The result was the devastation in the huge Midwest “Dust Bowl” during the economic depression of the 1930s.

Science provided the education for protecting the land, but it also gave huge companies such as Monsanto, the corporation that developed the devastating Agent Orange, a way to control farmers through its magic seeds that could be used only once without permission for Monsanto and other similar companies. The pesticides also developed by these companies destroyed both wildlife and domestic beings, including humans.

The 21st century has had three leaders in the United States. The first one followed the rapacious desires of advisers who wanted to take over the Middle East for more wealth, and the second tried to reverse some of the assaults on the planet from earlier leaders. His successor has spent less than 100 days in overturning anything done in the last eight years, including its attention to reducing the destruction of the Earth.

On Earth Day 2017, April 22, the current leader denies climate change and actively promotes an annihilation of our only planet through appointments of officials, proposed budget cuts, legislation and executive orders to eliminate environmental and public health protections, suppression of information, and opposition to any cleanups of earlier devastation. He has attempted to eradicate any scientific evidence in make policies. His goal is to break the chain of knowledge that has moved us forward in the past century.

In an immense extinction, the planet loses about 27,000 species every year, and in just three years the number of wild animals living on Earth will drop by two-thirds in the past half century largely because of habitat loss, uncontrolled hunting and fishing, and pollution. Humanity is dependent on nature for air, water, and food, and leaders of the United States are destroying nature.

Every year, I published some magnificent photos by Ann Hubard. Last year, I talked about the advances of overcoming climate change. Yesterday hundreds of thousands of people marched to “Make Earth Great Again.” Otherwise Earth Day 2017 has very little good news; these photographs show what we can lose with our current leadership.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 22, 2017

DDT: Thirteenth Week inside the U.S.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) crowned the week of the March for Science by firing his U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy. Possibly, Murthy’s belief that the over 33,000 deaths and more tens of thousands of woundings from gun violence is a public health issue doesn’t align with DDT’s philosophy. Murthy also believes in vaccinations for children. He had another two years in his four-year term.

Misogynist in Charge of Women’s Issues: DDT has put 31-year-old speech writer Stephen Miller in charge of women’s issues. He has denied the gender wage gap, stating that women just work fewer hours than men; opposed paid maternity leave; and claimed that “in modern-day America, there is a place for gender roles” because closing the gap will force men to give up a “noble career.”

Rally instead of the White House Correspondent’s Dinner: The traditional annual dinner in 2011 to benefit the press association may have been the start for DDT’s push to become president, but he will be the first president to skip the event since Ronald Reagan after he was recovering from a failed assassination attempt. Instead DDT announced he will hold a “BIG” rally in Harrisburg (PA) at the culmination of the Mid-Atlantic Alpaca Association Jubilee. Hours before the traditional dinner is Samantha Bee’s “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.” DDT’s 100th day in office will be a busy day for political wonks.

Another Conservative Loss in Texas: For the third time this month, a court has ruled against the state’s voting laws, this time stating that the GOP-drawn voter map violates the U.S. Constitution with intentional discrimination against minorities. It’s a trifecta: the voter ID law, congressional maps, and state legislative maps all violate the federal Voting Rights Act. Now Texas faces the possibility of mandated federal approval before changing voting laws—not that big a deal since racist Jeff Sessions heads the “Department of Justice.” The minority vote on the panel of three argued that the maps were drawn to favor the Republican party rather than to discriminate against ethnic minorities.

Deported Dreamers: Last year, DDT complained that a judge’s “Mexican heritage” prejudices him against DDT. Born in the U.S., Judge Gonzalo Curiel will now hear another case related to DDT, this one to determine whether DACA participant Juan Manual Montes Bojorquez was illegally deported. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has claimed that no person with an active DACA status has been deported, but Borjorquez is one of several people who disprove Kelly’s assertion.

Proposed Nuclear Storage in Nevada: For the past 30 years, Nevada has fought an underground facility at Yucca Mountain to store nuclear waste. The issue was supposedly over in 2016, but DDT has allotted $120 million to resume licensing operations. Nevada opposed the plan on a variety of concerns, including volcanic hazard estimates, corrosion and toxic contamination risks. An experiment to determine Yucca’s suitability showed underground water and waste seepage issues, and research indicates that the place is “geologically and hydrologically active and complex.” Using Yucca Mountain would cost approximately $100 billion. DDT might want to consider what a nuclear accident at Yucca Mountain would do to his Las Vegas hotel.

Lawsuit against DDT’s Inciting Violence: In a lawsuit against DDT’s encouraging his supporters to be violent, his lawyers claim that a president can’t be sued, but the perpetrator of the violence blames DDT. A lawyer for Alvin Bamberger, who was taped shoving protesters over a year ago, wrote that Bamberger “would not have acted as he did without Trump and/or the Trump Campaign’s specific urging and inspiration.” Bamberger even wants DDT to pay his damages if he loses the lawsuit. A year ago February, DDT told an Iowa audience:

“So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of him, would you? Seriously, okay, just knock the hell. I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees; I promise, I promise.”

Another DDT-supporter, Matthew Heimbach, has claimed that he “acted pursuant to the directives and requests of Donald J. Trump and Donald J. Trump for President” and that “any liability must be shifted to one or both of them.” In his filing, Heimbach wrote that he “relied on Trump’s reputation and expertise in doing the things alleged.” DDT’s lawyers are also trying to stop a defamation civil suit filed by one of the women who accused DDT of sexual misconduct through the same claim that no one can sue the president.

No First Amendment Rights for Protesters: In response to the lawsuits about violence at DDT rallies, lawyers argued that protesters “have no right” to “express dissenting views” at his campaign rallies because such protests infringed on his First Amendment rights. According to DDT’s lawyers, he was protected by First Amendment rights, but dissenting people don’t receive the same constitutional protection at his rallies.

DDT’s Continued Profiteering from Current Campaign: On Inauguration Day, DDT announced his candidacy for president in 2020. Last week’s filings show that over six percent of his current take—about $500,000—goes to DDT-owned hotels, golf clubs and restaurants, including $274,013 in rent to Trump Tower, $58,685 for lodging to the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., and $13,828 for facility rental and catering to the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas. Donald Trump predicted his “scampaign,” several years ago:

“It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.”

Yup.

New Chief of Staff in White House: Before DDT was inaugurated, he said his children would have no role in his administration. Then Ivanka Trump joined as a senior adviser. It was legal because she wasn’t being paid. Now Ivanka, the “special” assistant, has a taxpayer-funded chief of staff. As well as a taxpayer-funded close adviser. And who knows how many more staff members for a member of DDT’s family.

While taxpayers suffer, Ivanka Trump adds to her fortune because of her father’s “connections.” On the same night that she and her husband sat next to Chinese president Xi Jinping, China gave her three new trademarks with monopoly rights for her brand of jewelry, bags, and spa services, in addition to the existing 13 trademarks and 32 pending applications. She has over 180 pending and registered trademarks throughout the world. Her imports into the U.S., mostly from China, increased 166 percent last year and another 40 percent in the first quarter of 2017. Both Ivanka and her husband have extensive communication with China’s government. Kushner’s financial disclosure form lists 24 corporate entities directly related to his wife’s company, but Ivanka has not filed a disclosure.

Smaller Easter Egg Roll at White House: DDT managed to survive the Easter Egg Roll with a rare appearance by First Lady Melania who had to remind DDT to put his hand over his heart during the national anthem. Asked by a child to autograph a hat, DDT complied and then threw it away into the crowd while grinning like a little kid and the child screams “No!” Attendance was about half that at President Obama’s Easter event although Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that the former president had lied about the numbers during his terms. The event has been touted as a success, perhaps because it was run by 400 President Obama volunteer holdovers. My favorite tweet from the event, however, comes from David Frum, past ? for George W. Bush: “The people who f—cked up the White House Easter Egg Roll are asking America to follow them into war without allies in NE Asia?” [DDT’s first Easter Egg Roll]

Dropping Polls: The pundits may have loved the DDT’s bombing in the Middle East, but his actions haven’t brought the hoped-for bump in popularity. Except for glowing comments from far-right media, polls show that he’s still at the lowest approval rating for new presidents, somewhere around 40 percent. Even worse is the loss of 17 points in the number of people who think that DDT keeps his promises—from 62 percent in February to 45 percent in April after people had a chance to watch him as president. He also lost seven points in being seen as a “strong and decisive leader” and a president who “can bring about changes the country needs.” The percentage of people who said they see him as “honest and trustworthy” also dropped by six points. Fewer than half of voters (46 percent) say they are “very or somewhat confident” in Trump’s ability to work with Congress, down from a 60 percent majority in December.

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) has also dropped to 29 percent approval with with 54 percent disapproving. And that’s before this next week with the zombie health care reappearing and the potential of a government shutdown if DDT’s staff carries through with their blackmail threats.

April 21, 2017

DDT: Week Thirteen on the Foreign Front

Right before Earth Day tomorrow, the planet won a victory when the Treasury Department refused to grant ExxonMobil a waiver for a joint drilling deal in the Black Sea with Russia’s state oil company. Current U.S. sanctions against Russia after its annexation of Crimea require waivers. President Obama opposed the same plan in 2015 after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson created it as Exxon’s CEO. In the words of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), “Are you crazy?” My cynic bone wonders what the current administration is planning that is worse that the waiver to the sanctions.

Thus far, DDT’s only victory in over 90 days was getting Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court although it required breaking Senate rules. Gorsuch made his first public decision—to kill a man. In its rush to kill eight inmates on death row for 24-26 years before state drugs expired, Arkansas decided to kill them in eleven days. Judicial stays kept these men alive for a few days, but Gorsuch joined the conservative block on the high court to kill at least one of them. Ledell Lee, the first man executed, had fetal alcohol syndrome disorder with significant brain damage and intellectual disability. He has always claimed that he is innocent and that one of his lawyers was drunk and another was mentally ill. The state refused to allow him to take a DNA test to compare evidence collected at the scene of the crime. The judge in the case was having an affair with the prosecutor and later married her. None of the blood at the crime scene belonged to Lee, and forensic evidence of hairs has been discredited. It’s not surprising for Gorsuch to kill the Arkansas inmate because he had ruled in Colorado that a man should lose his job if he chose to save his life.

In the Company of Tyrants: Even conservatives are outraged that DDT called to congratulate Turkish President ­Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his new, almost dictatorial powers by winning a referendum after possible election tampering. Erdogan’s authoritarian rule has destroyed any separation of church and state in an Islamic regime and arrested any critics as well as a roundup of journalists. After last summer’s attempted coup, Erdogan had already detained, suspended, or dismissed almost 200,000 people including state officials and teachers. The new referendum would replace the parliamentary system with a presidential one and abolish the prime minister. Erdogan, who could stay in power until 2029, could intervene in the judiciary, control the nominees for parliament’s nominees, directly appoint top government officials, and declare a state of emergency with no justification. DDT’s congratulatory statement not only contradicts the official message from the U.S. State Department but also was made before the vote is final. It is still being contested. Reasons given for DDT’s congratulations include ignorance, carelessness, or an agreement with Erdogan’s ideology. Or it could simply be because he has business interests in Turkey: in the past, he said that he had a “conflict of interest” in the country (tower on right). If the referendum wins the “yes” votes, Turkey will become a total dictatorship.

Question of Chemical Attacks in Syria: DDT may hope that problems in North Korea keep people from wondering if his April 7 preemptive strikes on Syria—his first open act of war—was based on false information. Although the deaths of people on April 4 have not been contested, questions about the type of gas and the perpetrators remain because of no independent, international investigation. Two longtime experts in war studies and missile systems maintain that DDT’s intelligence report about Syria’s role is “false” and “fraudulent” as well as a “coverup.” They purport that the intelligence report about an air attack is not substantiated by evidence and that the official report did not use the methodologies that it claimed: the information released by the White House is political, not scientific. In 2013, President Obama was given incorrect information that Syria perpetrated an attack but did not retaliate because intelligence did not support that information. Instead, DDT, like George W. Bush, made preemptive strikes against a country that didn’t attack the United States, without accurate information. Support for the experts’ information is that there is no plan for an investigation—just a move forward to inflame North Korea into military action. The world has become a far more dangerous place in DDT’s less than 100 days.

Ships Far from North Korea: One piece of DDT’s saber-rattling in northeast Asia was to declare that he had ordered an “armada” (actually six ships) close to North Korea. Two weeks later the media discovered that the ships “steaming,” in Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s words, toward North Korea were headed in the opposite direction several thousand miles away after the Navy released photographs and the location of the Carl Vinson in the Sundra Strait, 3,500 miles away. The White House blamed the Defense Secretary Jim Mattis for the mistake although U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster mistakenly told Fox that the ships were rerouted from Singapore to the Korean peninsula as a “prudent” show of force. That’s DDT’s military’s second bad mistake this month: the earlier one referred to the biggest non-nuclear weapon that it used on Afghanistan as “the type of weapon for the type of target” and how it sent a message.

South Korea’s “Concern” with DDT: The egregious “mistake” about the ships’ location upset South Koreans who felt “bewildered, cheated and manipulated by the United States, their country’s most important ally,” according to the New York Times. AP went farther with words such as “unpredictable,” “unhinged,” and “dangerous.” DDT also angered South Koreans by his assertion that the Korean Peninsula “used to be a part of China.” Invaded by its neighbor and forced to pay tribute, Koreans state that the idea that they were once Chinese subjects is highly insulting. DDT is alienating one country almost every every week–South Korea, Great Britain, Mexico, Sweden, Germany, Australia, and China plus Canada after DDT scolded the nation for what the dairy industry did to our workers.” The addition of Colombia brings the total to nine.

Secret Meeting at Mar-a-Lago: Last weekend, DDT interrupted his golf games to meet undercover with former Columbian presidents Álvaro Uribe and Andrés Pastrana, former presidents of Colombia to undermine the current Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos’ peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to end Latin America’s longest armed conflict. The White House also lied about the meeting: it claimed just a brief “hello” because the two men were at the resort, but Pastrana thanked DDT for the “cordial and very frank conversation” about Colombia’s challenges. DDT also ignored any diplomatic coordination with the State Department. Columbia reported that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), an opponent of the peace plans, set up the meeting with the three men.

State Department v. Tillerson: During his campaign, DDT called the Iran Deal “the worst deal ever negotiated” and promised to rip it up on day one. This week Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the deal a failure, warned this week that Iran’s nuclear weapons could be as bad as North Korea, and accused the country of causing “alarming and ongoing provocations.” At the same time, he wrote House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) that Iran was upholding its commitments, and the State Department released the same positive information. In response to Tillerson’s criticism of Iran, its foreign minister, Mohammad-Javad Zarif, faulted the U.S. for trying to distract from its “abysmal” human rights record, which includes DDT’s Muslim ban, and the U.S. support of Israel, which Zarif claimed has an “illegal” nuclear arsenal. Tillerson made his comments about Iran as a disruptive force on the same day that he praised Saudi Arabia that is trying to reinstate Yemen’s ousted president by killing thousands of civilians in airstrikes.

Raising Prices: DDT signed his “Buy American, Hire American” executive order while in Wisconsin. Part of it changes rules for the H-1B visa program which keeps some highly skilled workers from coming to the U.S. and may send companies that employ them out of the country. At the same time, he saved the visa program for lower-paid workers, like his own because, as he said in the past, “it’s very, very hard to get people.” DDT wants to do away with the waivers in these mandates—except ones that let him buy all the products for his business more cheaply from foreign countries. DDT’s order has no weight unless Congress passes a law to support it or changes past laws, for example the Trade Agreements Act of 1979 that treats products made in foreign countries as domestic if the countries, almost 60 at this time, have a trade agreement with the United States. There are no plans to carry out his order, which would cause prices to skyrocket. China steel, for example, is 70 percent cheaper than what is made in the U.S., and a DDT order from last month raised steel prices 19 percent.

Obsession of Gold: Known for wasting taxpayer money in the United States, DDT is moving the selfishness to Britain on his upcoming visit in October. Despite the cost and the lack of security, he demands that he ride to a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II in a golden coach—just like Mexican President Peña Nieto, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Chinese President Xi Jinping. It’s the “ugly American” made more hideous than ever.

Tomorrow covers DDT’s damage in domestic issues.

April 20, 2017

Join the March for Science

The GOP War on Science is not new, but it gained massive traction with the election of a Republican president and Congress with the possibility of a totally Republican Supreme Court. The idea that science is vital to protecting humanity through effective decision-making is now passé among federal government leaders with the mighty dollar—or billions of them—leading the way. Draconian budget cuts to the EPA, National Institutes of Health, NOAA, NASA, and BLM aren’t enough to satisfy these people; all that funding is going to nuclear weapons and the military. In addition, leadership is muzzling people, attacking evidence, and erasing information about climate change from websites.

This coming Saturday is the 47th anniversary of the first Earth Day in 1970. Instead of sitting by and letting conservatives destroy the planet, scientists are coming out of their labs and research areas for the March for Science. The main one is in the U.S. capital, but 200 organizations are planning another 500 marches around the world—all kicking off a week of action culminating in the People’s Climate March on April 29. According to the March for Science website, organizers are “advocating for evidence-based policymaking, science education, research funding, and inclusive and accessible science.”

The March’s Facebook page is 850,000 strong with information about people, posters, slogans, science and “misinformation” that the anti-science Heartland Institute sends to schools and science teachers. The March’s participants vary from a neuroscientist marching “for the thousands of people suffering from spinal cord injury” to SF fans marching “because you can’t have science fiction without science!”

One segment of the marchers is protesting the current policy regarding drug use in the United States overturning gains in the last eight years for an evidence-based drug policy. Throughout the nation’s history, drug laws have criminalized minorities: opium laws in the 1800s targeting Chinese immigrants, marijuana laws directed toward Hispanics in the early 1900s, and then crack laws of the 1980s disproportionately incarcerating black men. Research shows that drug prohibition contributes to worse health and higher mortality rates among drug users while growing an illicit drug market. Targeting minorities negatively affects family and social support and eliminates economic opportunity.

Fear-based drug control tactics fail to provide information in their efforts to terrify policymakers and the public in opposition to success for drug control demonstrated in other countries that expand treatment access and decriminalize drugs. The current administration ignores research on these successes for a racial “law and order” position, always a failure.

According to the federal government, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, the highest level of “potential for abuse” and no medical value. It is considered more dangerous than meth, opium, or cocaine. With cannabis in this category, medical researchers are helpless to examine studies from other countries that refute the U.S. position. Across the nation, this one “drug” is legal in 28 states for medical purposes and in another eight states for recreational use. Its popularity has caused companies to develop synthetic “look alike” drugs that increase the chance of overdoses and other negative side effects.

Earth Day’s goal, 47 years ago and now, is to mobilize people around environmental issues. The first march of 20 million people led to the Environmental Protection Agency, created by GOP President Richard Nixon, and vital environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. The Earth Day revolution began at a time of dangerous air pollution, rivers on fire, genetic changes in wildlife, and children with diseases and birth defects in the United States. Last year the nation signed the Paris Climate Agreement with 174 other countries.

After Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) appointed a climate-change denier for EPA Secretary, he signed a directive to reverse President Obama’s progress toward slowing down climate change. DDT’s goal is to promote oil, coal, and natural gas over all other objectives at a time when fossil fuel companies are switching to renewable energy sources. The order mandates suspension, revision, or rescinding any policies that “burden” the production of domestic energy resources, including nuclear power. Gone are the order to consider climate change in environmental reviews, including locations of oil drilling, and the one to factor in the potential economic damage from climate change. DDT’s order also removes the moratorium on new coal leases on federal land and remove regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Fracking companies will also not be required to seal off waste water in storage tanks and to disclose chemicals they pump underground. Methane emissions from oil and gas operations no longer need to be reduced.

Other DDT “climate crimes” include his reinstatement of two pipelines (at a profit to himself), allowing lead ammunition on federal lands and waters, ordering the EPA to reconsider car emissions requirements, and all his appointments.

Scott Pruitt, DDT’s EPA Secretary, set the new “tone” in his speech a week ago at a coal mine that was fined for contaminating waterways with toxic materials. His “back to basics” agenda devolves oversight of clean air and water in exchange for jobs in industries such as coal, oil, and gas. The new direction is support of the coal industry. The company owing that mine had almost entirely divested itself of West Virginia coal mines and is looking for buyers for this last one to be completely out of the business.

According to the EPA website:

Our mission is to protect human health and the environment.

 

EPA’s purpose is to ensure that:

  • all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work;
  • national efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information;
  • federal laws protecting human health and the environment are enforced fairly and effectively;
  • environmental protection is an integral consideration in U.S. policies concerning natural resources, human health, economic growth, energy, transportation, agriculture, industry, and international trade, and these factors are similarly considered in establishing environmental policy;
  • all parts of society — communities, individuals, businesses, and state, local and tribal governments — have access to accurate information sufficient to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks;
  • environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive; and the United States plays a leadership role in working with other nations to protect the global environment.

Demographics – Electric power generation and fuels, Q4 2016

In addition to Prutt failing to meet his agency’s mission and purpose, he claimed that ending regulations will boost the economy and create jobs. Last month, however, the Institute for Policy Integrity released a study showing that environmental regulations have essentially no effect on the employment rate in the long term. The government would be better economically to support jobs in renewable energy as shown by the chart on the right

A four-year EPA review shows that three pesticides–chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion–“pose a risk to nearly every endangered species they studied.” Dow Chemical claimed that these substances are safe, and Pruitt sided with Dow against his own agency in the case of chlorpyrifos and is poised to agree with Dow on the other toxic substances. Dow gave DDT $1 million for his inauguration, and the company’s CEO is a presidential adviser.

When questioned during his confirmation hearings, Energy Secretary Rick Perry testified that “science tells us that the climate is changing, and that human activity, in some manner, impacts that change.” After his confirmation, the agency’s staff was told to never use phrases “climate change,” “emissions reduction,” and “Paris agreement” because these terms would cause a “visceral reaction.” Instead, DOE employees are to use words such as “jobs” and “infrastructure.”

New banners for the Bureau of Land Management demonstrate the shift from environmental concerns to coal. The image of two hikers looking over a magnificent vista of green mountains capped by snow has been replaced by these banners:

 

Can’t march? You can participate through livestreaming Washington, D.C.’s event from Democracy Now starting at 10:00 am ET.

 

April 19, 2017

Want Facts? Check Carefully!

Filed under: Reproductive rights — trp2011 @ 10:00 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

If you get your information about abortion and reproductive rights from the evening cable news, you may be 64 percent wrong. Media Matters has released a year-long study of reporting on abortion, reproductive rights, and reproductive. The analysis of 354 segments on Fox, CNN, and MSNBC occurred from March 7, 2016 to March 1, 2017. The focus of these subjects was the election, legal issues, religion, anti-choice violence, economic and logistical barriers to abortion access, and state-based legislation on three topics—the discredited anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP), Planned Parenthood’s essential services, and late-term abortion.

Findings:

Coverage of Abortion and Reproductive Rights Was Male-Dominated Across All Networks: 60 percent of guests, hosts, and correspondents in these segments were male with hosts predominantly male—80 percent compared to only 20 percent female. Male hosts on Fox, representing more than the average on the three stations, were more likely to have male guests; CNN’s only program hosted by a woman, Erin Burnett Outfront, was the only program that had a majority of female guests. On MSNBC, only The Rachel Maddow Show and For the Record with Greta had more female appearances than male about these subjects.

Evening Cable News Features More Inaccurate Than Accurate Information About Abortion: 64 percent of the statements on these three cable stations contained inaccurate information about the Center for Medical Progress, abortion funding rules, Planned Parenthood’s essential services, and late-term abortion. CNN had the fewest inaccurate statements, and Fox, with 80 percent inaccuracy, rose to the top. Hannity and Tucker Carlson Tonight had no accurate statements at all. (Note: sexist Tucker Carlson is replacing sexist Bill O’Reilly.) On MSNBC, Chris Matthews’ Hardball had the highest number of inaccurate statements—21 out of 27.

Disparities Between Discussions of Candidates’ Positions on Abortion Enabled the Spread of Misinformation: Over half the segments studied covered candidates’ stances on abortion access with Donald Trump leading on all three networks. Hillary Clinton’s position was discussed only 21 percent of the time with other candidates’ positions in the other 32 percent. Fox led in coverage about Clinton’s position while providing misinformation about late-term abortion, meaning that Fox watchers heard more negative statements about Clinton and reproductive rights than people watching CNN or MSNBC.

Conversations About Legal Restrictions on Abortion Outpaced Those About the Consequences of Limiting Access:  The second most common focus for abortion was on courts and litigation, behind segments about the candidates’ positions on reproductive rights. Fox and MSNBC had the most pieces about this topic. Anti-choice violence and economic/logistical barriers to abortion access were barely addressed. Only one percent discussed the violence, and five percent concerned economical/logistical barriers. In the entire year, CNN failed to discuss anti-choice violence, and Fox had only one of the 354 segments, the one on The O’Reilly Factor when host Bill O’Reilly commented that the risk of this violence was low. All the anti-choice violence segments were on The Rachel Maddow Show which also showed five of the 11 segments on barriers available on MSNBC.

Fox News Dominated Discussions About Abortion in Concert with Religion or Faith: Abortion connected with religion/faith was the third most common intersection with Fox airing the most segments. Most of these were on Special Report, The O’Reilly Factor, and Hannity. Most of the few on MSNBC were on All In with Chris Hayes and The Rachel Maddow Show.

Misinformation About CMP (Center for Medical Progrss) Was Spread Almost Entirely by Fox New: Fox News aired all except one of the total statements about CMP, and 90 percent of these were wrong. The network typically described the group’s work as “investigative journalism” and failed to note the result of this “work” was refuted by multiple congressional and state investigations. Inaccurate statements came from most of the programs—Special Report, The O’Reilly Factor, The Kelly File, and Hannity. Sean Hannity invited discredited CMP founder David Daleiden on his show and gave him the entire segment to tell his inaccurate, anti-choice claim that Planned Parenthood illicitly sold fetal tissue, which multiple investigations have disproved.

All Networks Except Fox News Shared Largely Accurate Information About Planned Parenthood’s Essential Services: A prevailing anti-Planned Parenthood myth is that defunding it is no problem because these services are nonessential and can be provided by other community health centers (CHC). Accurate statements are that Planned Parenthood provides access to cancer screenings, pap smears, referrals, wellness exams, contraceptives, STD tests, family planning, or LGBTQ health services.  CNN and MSNBC provided largely accurate information about this topic while statements from Fox were split 50/50 between accurate and inaccurate. Only 26 percent of CNN statements were wrong, split evenly between Anderson Cooper 360 and CNN Tonight. All the inaccurate statements on MSNBC were made on Chris Matthews’ Hardball. Most of the Fox inaccurate statements were on The O’Reilly Factor although a couple of them were on The Kelly File before she left the network.

Misinformation About Late-Term Abortion Dominated on Every Network: Tracking segments on late-term abortions showed inaccurate statements 88 percent of the time. False anti-choice terms chosen included “sex-selective” abortion, “race-selective” abortion, “partial-birth” abortion, abortions after 20 weeks that allegedly risk the feeling of “fetal pain,” “abortion until the moment of birth,” “abortion on demand,” or abortion for “anyone, anytime, anyplace.” A search of these terms shows that only 12 percent were accurate. Erin Burnett OutFront and CNN Tonight led CNN’s 75 percent inaccurate statements with either none or one accurate statement. Wolf Blitzer’s The Situation Room was over 50 percent inaccurate. On Fox, all statements on Special Report, Tucker Carlson Tonight, and Hannity were inaccurate, while The O’Reilly Factor, at 95 percent inaccuracy, had the largest number of inaccurate statement. The majority of the 73 percent inaccurate statements on MSNBC were on Hardball.

The above analysis includes only “substantial discussion” or segments with the topic of abortion or reproductive rights and not news or video clips in edited news packages except those made by a network correspondent. It provides a snapshot of accuracy on both networks and programs. The question for further research is the accuracy of these programs and networks in other areas.

With 60 percent of the discussants about women’s reproductive rights being male, the media people addressing the topic, as in politics, aren’t directly affected by decisions and therefore concentrate on court decisions and political candidates. Neglected are topics such as services lost through defunding health clinics, women’s health, and socio-economic barriers to abortion access.

Even more frightening in the analysis is the revelation that almost two-thirds of the statements are false, and the information about late-term abortions is almost 90 percent wrong. Many people get all their information from these inaccurate sources. Terms such as “fetal pain” and “abortion on demand” become part of the litany of people who vote against women’s rights and lead to increasingly horrific laws that limit women’s lives. Some people believed Donald Trump’s outrageous statement at a campaign debate that laws allowed doctors to “rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.” This never happens.

The inaccuracies on cable TV haven’t stopped. Less than a month ago, Wolf Blitzer didn’t correct Secretary of Health Tom Price when he claimed that funding for Planned Parenthood is “fungible,” meaning that it supports abortions. The Guttmacher Institute pointed out the flaw: “Fungibility is an inherent possibility when involving the private sector in any government-subsidized activity, and the only way to avoid it would be for government agencies to exclusively provide any and all such services.” Also, if Price is correct, the “fungibility” also moves into taxpayers funding religion in federal subsidized organizations such as religious groups and charities. Yet Blitzer’s television audience didn’t hear that response.

It’s these inaccuracies that people use to pick candidates. Social media passes along billions of false computerized bots, candidates lie to get votes, and journalists don’t bother to check facts or follow their ideologies. When lies are corrected, people claim “alternate facts” or “emotional truth,” as if data doesn’t exist. This situation brought Brexit to Great Britain and the Republicans to the United States.

Next time someone tells you something, check it out! Like this article!

April 18, 2017

DDT’s Missing Tax Returns, More IRS Info

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 7:24 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Your federal income tax payment is due today, April 18. Technically, April 15 is the legal deadline, but not when that date is on a weekend. Then the date is pushed back because of Emancipation Day, the anniversary of freeing slaves and celebrated only in Washington, D.C. on April 16 every year. Its public employees had April 17 off because the 16th was on a weekend so taxes were then due on April 18. Taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts don’t have to pay state taxes until tomorrow because of Patriots’ Day, a legal holiday celebrated on the third Monday in April, but their federal taxes are still due today.

April 15 was still a day of protest. In the past, Tea Party members led small groups to oppose payment of taxes for all the government benefits that they receive. This year, opposition came from people representing the 74 percent of the population who want Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to release his tax returns. DDT may have ignored North Korea in his weekend tweets, but he addressed the marches in 200 cities and at least 48 states with at least 120,000 people. The number was probably much higher than that because several cities undercounted its crowds. Seattle and Washington, D.C. each numbered at least 25,000. DDT’s response was that he didn’t need to release his returns because he had already won the election, trying to cover up the continuing ramifications of his massive financial connections including collusion with Russia. He called the marches “small” and accusing the protesters of being “paid.”

The myths of small crowds and paid protesters began with the National Women’s March and the airport protests over Trump’s first Muslim ban during his first two weeks in office and continued for every gathering. Last February, Breitbart started the lie that George Soros is funding the protest movement.

Even hundreds of protesters marched at Mar-a-Lago where DDT vacationed for the seventh of 13 weekends since his inauguration brought out hundreds of people. His trips have cost taxpayers more than President Obama’s trips over his entire eight years, and Palm County (FL) alone has been charged $2 million for his trips. They chanted “Pay! Your! Taxes!” and waved signs calling him “Chicken in Chief” because of DDT’s shift in 40 years by refusing to release his returns. “Chicken Don” symbols replaced the women’s march pussy hats.

Debbie Wehking, a 66-year-old a school principal from Miami, said:

 “He needs to show us his tax returns so that we can tell who’s influencing his decisions, who he owes money to, who he’s doing business with — really so we can figure out whether he needs to be impeached.”

DDT was forced to take a longer route to his golf club to avoid the crowds. In Washington, D.C. a sign stated, “My taxes pay for your golf.” His claim that he cannot release his tax returns no longer holds any water because this is a new return. Also, presidents and vice presidents are automatically audited every year but still made public. In another opaque movement, DDT will no longer release White House visitor logs.

Republicans like Oregon’s representative Greg Walden claim that DDT should have his privacy. Others say that it doesn’t matter or that no one cares contradicted by the marches. Over one million people have already signed this petition.

Last year, individuals paid 49 percent of all federal tax revenues with businesses paying only nine percent of the $3 trillion. Worker and employer payroll taxes, commonly called Social Security and Medicare, account for another 33 percent, and another 3 percent comes from excise taxes with the last five percent labeled as “other.” Business taxes were down from an average of 14 percent last year, and huge corporations like GE and PG&E may pay absolutely nothing. Up to 118 individual breaks benefit companies and the wealthy by almost $1.15 trillion, and 80 corporate breaks net them $185.2 billion.

Technically, the federal corporate income tax is 35 percent, which the GOP wants to drop by over 50 percent. Yet the average taxation for 258 profitable Fortune 500 firms over eight years was 21.2 percent, and 100 of them paid zero taxes in at least one of those years. For example, major polluter North Carolina-based Duke Energy netted $18.2 billion in those eight years and paid no taxes for seven of them while getting $482 billion rebates. That makes their tax rate a minus 2.6 percent.

At least 23 percent of income taxes go to the military, not counting veterans benefits, debt from earlier wars, etc. Yet only 22 percent for this amount is for pay and benefits; almost half of military taxes go to multinational corporations making billions in profits. Domestic needs such as education and the safety net get far less money. [visual] For example, in 2015 taxpayers gave just one corporation, Lockheed Martin, $36 billion, 80 percent of its entire revenues. That money was six times the amount for all foreign aid in 2016.

How government spends your taxes:

  • Defense: 15 percent, not counting veterans benefits and almost 50 percent higher than 20 years ago. [visual]
  • Health care: 13 percent.
  • Interest payments: 6 percent, because of the $20 trillion in national debt largely caused since the George W. Bush tax cuts and wars.
  • Income security: 13 percent, including retirement and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families at its lowest level since 1998.
  • Benefits for veterans: 5 percent for 22 million veterans.
  • Education: 3 percent.
  • Social security: 24 percent.
  • Medicare: 15 percent.
  • Foreign aid: under 1 percent.
  • Other: Under 5 percent, including crop subsidies, space travel, highway repairs, and national parks.

Republicans want to eliminate many of the programs above, but they would be hurting their own constituents. GOP-managed states, aka red states, typically get more federal money back than they send to Washington. Nine of the 11 states that get more than $2 back for every dollar sent to Washington, D.C. are red, and eight of the ten states most dependent on federal funding are red. South Carolina, the queen of federal welfare, gets the most money: for every $1 that the state pays in federal taxes, it receives $7.87. One legislator said, “If you shut down 25 percent of all the federal dollars coming into South Carolina, the economy of South Carolina would collapse.” The federal $59.4 billion sent to South Carolina in 2014 was nine times the state’s annual General Fund budget. South Carolina was ranked the eighth most dependent state in Social Security payments. The state also has the ninth highest level of poverty with almost 28 percent of its children living in poverty along with a horrible health care system, bad public schools, climate-changing coal fired plants with no regulations, lower drinking water standards and other ways to damage its residents.

Only one of the least-dependent ten states, those receiving less money from the federal government that it sends, is red. In short, the lower the financial benefit of federal government in a state, the more likely it is to vote for federal government.

The practice of sending more federal money to Southern states than the government receives is an inheritance from the 20th century when that region voted Democrat, and senior members of Congress sent federal money to their states with contracts, projects, and installations. The other part of the equation is the extreme poverty in those areas. The need for a “safety net” in red states requires hundreds of billions of dollars annually to help the neediest because their own states won’t provide aid.

GOP-controlled red states belie the fantasy that cutting taxes drives growth. Blue states accomplish growth from investments in education, infrastructure, urban quality of life, and human services. These states have nine of the 10 top-ranked universities in the country, the highest median household income in nine of ten states, the greatest generation of technological innovation, and the highest average life expectancy. Despite globalization, local conditions of education, research and development, and promotion of idea exchange and talent development are vital. North Dakota’s oil helped its economy, but it looks more like Saudi Arabia than Silicon Valley. Hubs of “blueness” like Austin (TX) can exist in red states, but are forced to fight against government repression of wage rules and public investments.

Possibilities for blue states? A Bluexit (“Bloo-ksit”) along the lines of Brexit, the British exit from the European Union. If red states want only the U.S. military, paper currency, and the national anthem determined at the federal level, blue states can keep its resources to build up its cities and states.

Happy Tax Day!

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