Nel's New Day

March 30, 2019

DDT: Week 114 – Off the Rails without Attention to the Barr Report

This week should have been all about the release of the Mueller investigation, now known as the Barr Report after he put out four pages of misleading information for the real report that might have been almost 1,000 pages long. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) did start off with self-congratulatory claims for misleading information but managed to wander off track into the weeds and infuriate the GOP members of Congress.

Presented with a friendly—and irrational—court decision to nullify the Affordable Care Act, DDT ordered his AG lapdog to not defend the law because his own plan is better. He has no plan so he told GOP legislators to prepare one: they are refusing. Republicans even told DDT to drop his elimination of the ACA because healthcare issues brought a majority Democratic House. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) called DDT to tell him that his plan won’t work, and two cabinet members, HHS Secretary Alex Azar and AG Bill Barr, disagreed with destroying the ACA. Yet DDT is calling the GOP the “party of health care” when he plans to destroy healthcare for tens of millions of people.

Effects of no ACA and no other health plan:

Two million young people will no longer need to be covered by their parents’ plans.

Twelve million people in poverty could be taken off Medicaid.

The number of uninsured people would increase by 21 million people, or 70 percent. Some states will suffer more; for example, Kentucky, state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will see an increase of 151 percent in uninsured to 379,000 people.

Medicare beneficiaries, as many as 60 million, would face higher costs for medical care, premiums, and medications. The coverage gap on medications, slowly closing because of ACA, will open up again, and people will pay more for preventive care such as wellness visits and diabetes checks. Cuts in government payment for hospitals and other providers, including private Medicare Advantage plans, will increase premiums. An experimental program to save money for 12 million people may disappear. Medicare’s revenue may drop by $346 billion without the ACA.

As many as 133 million U.S. residents with pre-existing conditions could be denied insurance coverage—52 million people—or face far higher premiums. These include common medical issues such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Being a woman was a “pre-existing condition” before the ACA because females could be denied health coverage or charged higher premiums. Before ACA, women were charged at least 30 percent more than men but denied maternity coverage.

Up to 171 million people will no longer be protected from caps used by insurers and employers to limit costs in coverage each year or for a lifetime.

Hospitals and doctors can lose $50 billion with the disappearance of health insurance. Rural areas may need to close hospitals, giving people less heath care for more money.

People forced back into junk health plans with little coverage will end up in medical bankruptcy, the #1 reason for bankruptcy in the United States.

The DOJ declaration that ACA is unconstitutional may give $1 billion to a Florida healthcare executive on trial for Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Lawyers filed a motion for dismissal for accusations of kickbacks, fraud, and services that were not provided or medically unnecessary with the claim that the DOJ claimed that these offenses are unconstitutional. They want a mistrial. Either prosecutors contradict DDT’s position or agree with the executive’s claim that he should be exonerated. Releasing him from charges could result in everyone else convicted of this fraud under the ACA would demand release.

While DDT waits for the courts to destroy more people’s lives with lack of health care, a judge has struck down DDT’s rule to expand insurance plans not meeting the ACA requirements. The ruling references permission for small businesses and self-employed people to gather for association health plans. Lower costs in the “junk” plan means highly reduced health coverage, something that the ACA originally blocked.

In another health-related case, a federal judge threw out DDT’s Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky. Judge James E. Boasberg ruled that the purpose of Medicaid is to extend health care benefits to low-income people, and the work requirements don’t fit with this goal.

A federal judge overturned DDT’s attempt to open 120 million acres in the Arctic Ocean and parts of the Atlantic Ocean for fossil fuel drilling and declared his action illegal. Plaintiffs had argued that presidents may issue bans to withdraw from offshore oil leasing and development, but other presidents are not permitted to reinstate that development. Only Congress can take that action. Appeals could face the 9th Circuit Court and perhaps the Supreme Court. Oregon has also passed a law blocking drilling off its coast.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court blocked a lethal injection in Texas because the prison refused to permit a Buddhist priest to be with a man in the death chamber. Last month, the same court allowed the death penalty to be executed on an Alabama convict for the same reason. Brett Kavanaugh changed his position about religious freedom for all religions in a month.

More bad press followed DDT and his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos with public protests that they had cut the entire $17.6 million budget for Special Olympics. DeVos made a fool of herself trying to defend the action in a congressional hearing and later explaining that she really liked the program after DDT claimed that he had “overridden my people” to give money to the program. DeVos joins at least 19 other DDT cabinet members to end up under the bus. No matter what, the decision isn’t theirs: only Congress can authorize the final budget.

DeVos had not only eliminated 29 education programs essential to kids with disabilities, including after-school programs for low-income kids, professional development for teachers, and mental health services, but is also attempting to convince people that bigger classes sizes are better for students.

After threatening to close “large chunks” of the southern border, DDT now says he will close the entire border to all trade if Mexico “doesn’t immediately stop all illegal immigration coming into the United States.” Five million people can lose their jobs if he goes through with his threat, and millions more can lose their health care and cheaper prescriptions obtained in Mexico. He also plans to slash almost $500 million in aid to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras in a misguided attempt to cut down on the number of migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. His plans will exacerbate current problems of violence, poverty, and lack of jobs—driving more migrants north. The U.S. doesn’t give funding to the government; it provides for programs, many of them administered by nonprofit groups trying to stop migration.

DDT said that pointing machine guns at immigrants seeking asylum would be more efficient than a wall. He also said, “I wouldn’t want to do it,” but he’s also known for changing his mind hourly—and maybe some of his followers will follow through on the suggestion. DDT is already “housing” immigrants in cages under a bridge.

In a follow-up to the closeness between the airline industry and acting FAA chair Daniel Elwell, ProPublica published emails between Elwell and his industry buddies showing how he protects them. Appointed as deputy administrator on June 26, 2017, Elwell continued his “support” of his former lobbying clients. On his federal financial disclosure, Elwell failed to list clients who paid him $282,500 in 2016 and part of 2017. Unlike other oversight agencies, the FAA both regulates and promotes the airline industry; Elwell takes the latter much more seriously. A Senate committee has scheduled Elwell to testify on airline safety next Wednesday.

“How Donald Trump Inflated His Net Worth to Lenders and Investors,” a must read, details his financial lies that could lead to charges of fraud and corruption.

A federal judge ordered the DOJ and FBI to turn over former FBI Director James Comey’s memos so that he can determine whether to release them to the public.

Twitter, which allows world leaders to violate their terms of service because of being “newsworthy,” may start labeling DDT’s tweets as “offensive” if others would not be allowed to send them.

Putting people at risk of identity theft and fraud, FEMA gave personal data of 2.3 million disaster victims to an outside contractor. Information included birth dates, partial Social Security numbers, full names, addresses, and financial information with details of banking information.

February’s national debt of $234 billion was 46 percent higher than for the entire year 2007, making an average monthly deficit under DDT at $117 billion, higher than the average monthly deficits during President Obama’s both terms. DDT said both said “I love debt” and promised to eliminate the national debt.

Polls in states that supported DDT in January 2017 are now opposed to him, shown by approval ratings above and below 50 percent:

  • Pennsylvania: 1/17: +10; 2/19: -7
  • Ohio: 1/17: +14; 2/19: -5
  • Michigan: 1/17: +7; 2/19: -15
  • Wisconsin: 1/17: +6; 2/19: -14
  • Iowa: 1/17: +9; 2/19: -10
  • Florida: 1/17: +22; 2/19: -2
  • Arizona: 1/17: +19; 2/19: -6
  • North Carolina: 1/17: +17; 2/19: EVEN
  • Georgia: 1/17: +18; 2/19: -1

DDT hoped that the Barr Report would help his ratings, but he’s in exactly the same place he was before its release—42 percent approval and 55 percent disapproval. Nothing seems to help him.

March 22, 2019

DDT: Week 113, Part 1 – Raging, Losing

The biggest news today is that Robert Mueller has finished his report, but no one except AG Bill Barr knows what’s in it. More news when some is released.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) doesn’t know what his officials are doing. He tweeted:

“It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea. I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!”

Technically, the Treasury Department announced the sanctions yesterday, not today, but Fox may not have told DDT. Asked about DDT’s change, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said, “President Trump likes Chairman Kim.” Sanctions on Chinese shipping companies that helped North Korea evade international sanctions fought North Korea denuclearization. Even national security adviser John Bolton considered the sanctions “important.”

DDT started the week with 29 raging tweets on Sunday before and after he made a rare appearance at church where he wore a red tie to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day green. His fury was directed  against General Motors, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Saturday Night Live (the Christmas rerun), some Fox hosts (while supporting Jeanine Pirro), President Obama (along with FBI, DOJ, and CIA), Google, the Paris Climate Agreement, and others. DDT’s vitriol against McCain continued for the entire week during a press conference with his South American doppelganger, Brazil’s new autocrat Jair Bolonsaro, and in front of a Lima (OH) audience at a tank factory. By Wednesday, he began whining about how he didn’t get a “thank you” for McCain’s funeral and claimed that he had to “approve” the event. Congress approved McCain’s lying in state in the U.S. Capitol for three days; DDT only arranged for transport. After that diatribe, McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, shared a hate-filled tweet sent her that used obscenities to attack McCain and their daughter Meghan McCain.

Some Fox shows criticized DDT for his McCain comments. Neil Cavuto called out Republicans for not offending McCain, especially Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has gone all out in defending DDT as part of Graham’s re-election campaign. In a Friday interview with Fox Business Maria Bartiromo, DDT attacked her for asking him about his attacks:

“You shouldn’t have brought it up. Actually, I thought you weren’t supposed to bring it up, but that’s okay. Fake news every once in a while.”

Fox is officially fake news, according to DDT. His anger continued during his departure to Mar-a-Lago later that day when he ignored Fox reporters other than glaring at them. Republicans who have kept quiet about DDT’s diatribes may struggle with their votes if Sen. Chuck Schumer introduces a bill renaming the Russell Senate Building for McCain, especially because it would switch the name from honoring a Democrat, Richard Russell, to a Republican. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) may not let the bill come up for a vote.

With Congress on recess and everyone waiting for the Mueller report, DDT had nothing to do this week except rant, sometimes against the husband of his counselor, Kellyanne Conway. The courts, however, sometimes ruled against him.

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch swung to the left in supporting the rights of Native Americans, permitting the Yakama Tribe’s 1855 Treat rights to travel the public roads without being taxed on the goods brought to the reservation to Washington from Oregon, agreed when the U.S. took most of the Yakima land.

A U.S. District judge blocked drilling on 300,000 acres of public land in Wyoming because the Department of Interior auctioned the land for fossil fuel leasing without any consideration of climate change risks, violating the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. The decision is the first ruling against DDT’s business-first, climate-last agenda and will certainly be appealed.

A federal judge ruled against implementation of DDT’s transgender military ban because one of the injunctions against the ban still exists. In all four federal cases against the ban last year, judges issued injunctions. One injunction was lifted in March, and the Supreme Court overturned two others. Although An appeals court overturned another injunction in January, the judge said that the appeals court ruling could change because plaintiffs have until March 29 to ask for a rehearing. The Defense Department had set April 12, 2019 as the date to block transgender recruits signing up for the military, and military service members are already prevented from transitioning.

The Connecticut supreme court ruled that victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre can sue Remington Arms on the basis that the company irresponsibly marketed the weapon used in the shooting to high-risk individuals, violating state law. One argument was one of standing, whether a person without a business relationship with the defendant can sue for unfair trade practices, but the court ruled that people injured by unfair trade practices—in this case, families killed in the shooting—can sue. Manufacturers of weapons are the only U.S. companies that cannot be sued for their products’ deaths and injuries, according to a law passed in 2005.

The government has dropped charges for all 191 protesters at DDT’s inauguration who did not plead guilty, removing the possibility that each one could serve over 60 years in prison. Twenty-one of those arrested took guilty pleas.

The U.S. Supreme Court reversed an Alabama court by unanimously agreeing to recognize a lesbian couple’s legal adoption of a child in Georgia. The couple has separated, and the one who gave birth to three children argued that Georgia was wrong in granting joint custody to her former partner. Justices required that Alabama must give “full faith and credit” to another state’s court decision. Thirty states grant “second-parent adoptions” to same-gender couples through laws or court rulings. Hundreds of thousands of adoptions have been granted since the mid-1980s, and approximately 65,000 adopted children live with a lesbian or gay parent.

By not hearing an appeal from a Hawaii B&B, the high court ended a 12-year-old lawsuit. A lesbian couple won their suit after they were turned away from the lodging because of their sexual orientation. The decision may affirm non-discrimination laws against Q people despite “religious freedom” claims.

The second blow against Monsanto, this one a unanimous decision from a federal jury that weedkiller Roundup was a large factor in causing a man’s cancer, might end up in over 4,000 lawsuits against the company. A second phase of the trial concerns whether Monsanto is responsible. Another cancer patient was awarded $78 million. Recent analysis of glyphosate, an ingredient in Roundup, shows that the EPA was wrong in declaring it safe by disregarding the scientific evidence about its carcinogenic dangers.

DDT sees most of his policies knocked down by federal judges because they don’t meet minimums of legal reasoning. Normal win rate is 70 percent; DDT’s rate is 6 percent. Judges point out that policies lack legitimate explanations for policy shifts, facts, and public input while putting ideology over governance.

German officials have called for the expulsion of U.S. Ambassador to Germany, DDT-appointed Richard Grenell, for his interference in Germany’s politics. Wolfgang Kubicki, speaker of Germany’s Bundestag, asked the German foreign minister to “declare Richard Grenell persona non grata immediately.” Carsten Schneider, parliamentary manager of the Social Democrats Party, said Grenell is a “total diplomatic failure” who was acting like a “brat.” Grenell claims he wants to “empower” conservative movements in Europe, threatens sanctions regarding a German-backed pipeline, and urges German companies to stop operations in Iran.

Marine commandant, Gen. Robert Neller, told acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan that DDT’s deployments of troops to the southern border posed “unacceptable risk to Marine Corps combat readiness and solvency.” Neller also wrote that the “unplanned/unbudgeted” deployment and funding shifts to support border security forced him to cancel or reduce planned military training in at least five countries and delay urgent repairs at bases. According to Neller, hurricanes severely damaged Marine Corps facilities and housing in North Carolina and Georgia, and Marines are already short $1.3 billion for recovery operations requiring service members to work “in compromised structures” as hurricane season is three months away. In their testimony next week before the House Armed Services Committee, Shanahan and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, may be asked questions about Neller’s statements.

DDT’s new privatized VA program is so flawed that it threatens to disrupt health care for about 75,000 veterans every day, according to an independent study from U.S. Digital Service, hired to help federal agencies improve their technology. The software to determine who is eligible for the program can lengthen each appointment by five to ten minutes by generating errors, running slowly, or crashing. The report also indicated that there is insufficient time to test the tool and address errors. Last year, the VA’s software caused veterans to be evicted and ruined their credit scores. Last year, three men from Mar-a-Lago oversaw the IT division because it lacked a permanent chief.

The Republicans in some states are trying to put DDT on the ballot in the general election with no primary, but 18 states are considering legislation that would keep candidates for president and VP off the 2020 general election ballots if they don’t release their income tax returns.

DDT’s approval rating from the conservative Gallup poll is back down to 39 percent in the first half of March. Not a good week for DDT.

January 6, 2018

The U.S. Headed for the Gutter

Left alone this weekend, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is still angrily tweeting about Michael Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury and describing himself as “a very stable genius”:

“Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart….”

Former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum describes DDT as “the country’s leading racist conspiracy theorist,” “the multi-bankrupt least trusted name in real estate,” and “the protege of Roy Cohn’s repeatedly accused of ties to organized crime.”  According to Frum, DDT’s danger is “not the man, but the system of power surrounding the man.”

DDT’s power system in just the past month:

Despite Department of Defense opposition, DDT wants to open drilling in all but one 26 areas currently off limits in the Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans and the Gulf of Mexico—over 90% of U.S. oceans. Atlantic-coast governors and legislators of both parties oppose the drilling from Maine to the Florida Keys. An oil spill the size of the Deepwater Horizon spill off the coast of North Carolina would cost almost 350,000 jobs and $35 billion in revenue. Even avid DDT supporters oppose his plan.

Republicans gave oil companies $500 billion this week when they let a tax of nine cents per barrel on domestic crude oil and imported crude oil and petroleum products expire, a tax used to respond to accidents. The current administration also plans to reverse safety rules created after the horrific Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and spill in 2010.

The Interior Department revoked a requirement for fossil fuel companies to reveal the chemicals in fracking fluids and regulations that tightened standards for well construction and wastewater. It also suspended a study on the safety of offshore drilling platforms and health risks of mountaintop-removal coal mining in central Appalachia. On February 8, 2018, two million acres of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are available to mining and drilling for free. Gone are the wild red rock canyons, valued hunting and fishing, and tens of thousands of Native American archaeological sites while private companies reap the profits of the nation’s fossil fuel resources.

In addition to these rollbacks, the Interior Department renewed copper and nickel mining leases in the pristine Boundary Waters Wilderness Area, opening up the area to one of the most toxic industries. The leases are a gift to Chilean mining billionaire Andrónico Luksic, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s landlord for their house in Washington, D.C. People can oppose the decision by signing this petition and contact the Interior Department.

Other destructive administrative actions in December:

  • A plan to replace the Clean Power Plan.
  • Removal of climate change from global threats to national security, one of the Pentagon’s concerns. Exemption of the Endangered Species Act requirements in the $81 billion disaster bill.
  • Indefinite postponement of a previously announced ban of highly toxic chemicals methylene chloride, N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP), and trichloroethylene (TCE).
  • Executive order “streamlining” the leasing and permitting processes for exploration, production and refining of vaguely defined “critical minerals.”
  • Revocation of the Resource Management Planning Rule white advocated new technologies to improve transparency related to mining on public lands by stating that this rule “shall be treated as if it had never taken effect.”
  • Lack of prosecution for “incidental” killings of 1,000 migratory bird species by oil, gas, wind, and solar operators, illegal under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
  • Dramatic expansion of the neonicotinoid insecticide thiamethoxam proved damaging or deadly to bees.
  • Prioritization of oil and gas leasing and development near and inside greater sage-grouse habitat management areas.
  • Extinction of the beaverpond marstonia snail extinct, the first in DDT’s administration.

The DOJ may ask people about their citizenship status in the 2020 census, a move to skew the census’ ability to determine population for voting and federal funds. Since 1790, the decennial census, mandated by the U.S. Constitution, has been an effort to count everyone living in the nation, legally or otherwise. The question will further undercount the Hispanic population, giving white people an even greater advantage in elections. Families in the U.S. legally might decline to answer if they house friends or relatives who are not, increasing census costs for following up on nonresponders.

DDT is easing up fines for nursing homes that hurt or put residents in grave risk of injury. Since 2013, 40 percent of nursing homes—almost 6,500—have been cited at least once for a serious violation, and Medicare fined two-thirds of these homes. Some of these violations have led to the deaths of residents. DDT’s action follows the overturning of a ban on nursing homes from requiring residents to settle disputes through arbitration instead of court action.

Churches don’t pay taxes, but they’ll get tax money from the federal government after FEMA changed its guidelines to send them disaster relief funds. Religious institutions are now “community centers, without regard to their secular or religious nature,” FEMA said although “facilities primarily used for political, athletic, religious, recreational, vocational, or academic training, conferences, or similar activities are ineligible” for FEMA funds, according to the agency.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development will encourage continued racial segregation in housing by delaying until 2020 a requirement that communities submit plans to reverse patterns of racial residential segregation in applications for block grants and housing aid. Plans already filed will no longer be reviewed for segregation.

DDT erased the deal for federal funds to pay for half the multi-billion-dollar Amtrak tunnel connecting New Jersey to Penn Station.

Continued sabotage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) comes from encouraging substandard healthcare plans for small businesses and self-employed people that could defraud customers, refuse coverage for basic needs, and leave people with pre-exiting conditions and serious health needs with much higher premiums and fewer choices.

DDT has disbanded his election fraud committee after multiple lawsuits, including one from a Democratic member who sued to find out when the group would meet and what it’s agenda would be. An executive order turns the findings over to the DHS that will decide what to do next. Panel members were directed to keep their materials for future lawsuits. During the committee tenure, a 52-year-old Democratic commissioner died during surgery, and a staff member was arrested for possessing child pornography. The dissolution of this commission is less than a week after DDT fired every member of his advisory council on HIV/AIDS.

After DDT disbanded the voting fraud commission designed to suppress minority, women, and lower-income voting rights, he again claimed that a large number of people are voting illegally and called for voter suppression through mandated IDs:

“As Americans, you need identification, sometimes in a very strong and accurate form, for almost everything you do…..except when it comes to the most important thing, VOTING for the people that run your country. Push hard for Voter Identification!”

The DOJ is now supporting strict voter ID laws.

AG Jeff Sessions gave more money to employees by reversing a guideline about disabled people that requires them a greater chance at being in an integrated setting. Employing people in a segregated setting means that employees can be paid pennies on the dollar.

One DDT administrative plan with bipartisanship opposition is Sessions’ crackdown on state cannabis legislation. Despite federal belief that cannabis is equal to heroin, 46 states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes, sometimes reducing opioid and alcohol addiction, and eight states have legalized cannabis for recreational use. A law prohibiting the federal government from blocking state laws expires on January 19 with the end of the temporary spending bill, and Sessions is eliminating the “Cole memo” that stopped federal resources from interfering if states didn’t spread cannabis beyond their borders. Beyond the advantages of medical use, legalized cannabis has helped the economy through increased taxes and jobs. Legalization of cannabis could boost the market to $20 billion in annual sales that fund schools and other public services.

During his campaign, DDT promised that he would not use federal resources to block state laws; now he’s supporting Sessions, in opposition to 64 percent of the people in the U.S. who support cannabis legalization.

Conservatives are riled about Sessions impinging on states’ rights—usually a GOP position. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), known for supporting DDT almost 100 percent of the time, has said that he will put holds on all DOJ nominees in the six divisions needing senate confirmation if Sessions goes through with his crackdown. Gardner tweeted:

“This reported action directly contradicts what Attorney General Sessions told me prior to his confirmation. With no prior notice to Congress, the Justice Department has trampled on the will of the voters in CO and other states.”

Within less than a year, DDT has declared war on all the offices that were created to protect people. He has trampled on endangered species, the nation’s resources, human rights, states’ rights, consumer protection, integration, health, open communication, transparency of government, any vestige of peace, and honor—every area that makes people’s lives better. He hates President Obama so much that he plans to destroy every accomplishment that benefits people while using his office to enrich himself personally and cause war around the world. The leader of the United States, a man filled with hate and revenge, is determined to drag the United States into the gutter. The question is whether the people in the nation will allow him to accomplish this goal.

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