Nel's New Day

May 15, 2022

Republicans: The Cult of Death

David Barnhart, a pastor in Alabama, wrote the following about the anti-abortion, so-called “right-to-life” movement banning abortions:

“’The unborn’ are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; they don’t resent your condescension or complain that you are not politically correct; unlike widows, they don’t ask you to question patriarchy; unlike orphans, they don’t need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don’t bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn. You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus, but actually dislike people who breathe. Prisoners? Immigrants? The sick? The poor? Widows? Orphans? All the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible? They all get thrown under the bus for the unborn.”

The anti-abortion movement—actually the anti-choice movement because they don’t want to give rights to people—calls itself the “right to life,” but it’s actually only rights for the human zygote, embryo, or fetus. Conservatives’ respect for life by conservatives disappears at the instant a fetus emerges from the uterus. From then on, they embrace death:

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wants to starve migrant babies held in custody for crossing the southern border because selfish baby formula manufacturers have caused a shortage.

New state anti-abortion laws block treatment for ectopic pregnancies in the fallopian tube, cervix, abdominal cavity, ovary or scar from a cesarean section instead of in the uterus. They never result in a birth and are guaranteed to kill the pregnant woman without surgery. A Louisiana bill would permit the charge of murder for anyone who miscarries or needs surgery for ectopic pregnancies. An Ohio bill would mandate doctors to “reimplant” an ectopic pregnancy, medically impossible. An Oklahoma state senator disagreed with permitting surgeries for these pregnancies. Texas law does not define exceptions for medical emergencies, and a doctor denied a woman treatment for her ectopic pregnancy before she was rejected at an emergency room. At least one pharmacy refused to fill prescriptions for this condition. Ignorant legislators create these bills which are then supported by more ignorant people. If laws allow ectopic pregnancies, the confusion may keep women from seeking help. In some states, medical students receive limited education about abortion which means they also don’t know how to care for patients who have had miscarriages. The women who die don’t have the “right to life.”

The Supreme Court supporting “right to fetuses” opposed life for Clarence Dixon, a schizophrenic executed in Arizona last week. His lawyers said he didn’t understand why he was being put to death and suffered for over 25 minutes during the procedure. Age 66 and blind, Dixon is the first execution since Joseph Wood was given 15 doses of a two-drug combination over two hours, repeated gasping until he died. Witnesses reported that prison had trouble finding a vein for the lethal injection, and Dixon was in pain for 25 minutes until they injected him in the groin. An AP journalist said, “They did have to wipe up a fair amount of blood.” Arizona also has a gas chamber which uses hydrogen cyanide, the same gas used at Auschwitz during the Holocaust. Arizona can still kill another 112 people on death row. Supreme Court decisions determined justices shouldn’t meddle in state lethal injections so Arizona can handle the situation any way it wants.  

Republicans virtuously permit people with COVID to infect and kill others with the ridiculous claim of needing freedom from wearing masks. Studies have shown over and over that social distancing, vaccinations, and masks will block the transmission of the disease killing people in a little over two years. Even those who refuse all these precautions have learned how their loved ones have died the hard way, and many of them have admitted this fact. 

In another way to kill people, Republicans block any kind of sex education for young people so that they can protect themselves. Without that knowledge, girls employ myths to avoid pregnancy, myths that don’t work. Their solution is sometimes self-induced abortions, killing the young girls.

In 2008, before President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, over 26,000 people died because they lacked health insurance. Since it passed in 2010, the Republicans have tried non-stop to block health insurance for the poor. Even ten years after the law passed, 45,000 people are still dying each year from lack of health insurance. Even if they don’t die, 25 percent of people in the U.S delay health care for serious illnesses.

GOP hatred for LGBTQ people also promote violent deaths by those with anti-LGBTQ fear and loathing with the attitude that they are following God’s will.   

The deaths of at least ten people in a Buffalo story also shows how cavalier conservatives are permitting mass shootings through the freedom to buy guns. An 18-year-old who had previously threatened a school shooting and posted a “manifesto” on the website murdered people peacefully shopping because they were black. The GOP party line will be that he was a “lone wolf” although the persuasion to stop white people from being “replaced” by minorities has come for the far-right media, especially Fox’s Tucker Carlson, and GOP leaders. This mass shooting was #198 in the first 19 weeks of 2022.

Deliberate income inequality in which Republicans ensure that the wealthy and big business collect the vast majority of assets while people in poverty die from lack of resources.

The conservative anti-science aggression is also causing hunger and starvation by refusing to recognize climate change. Republicans also permit toxic chemicals and other pollution to kill people—if they are poor—to benefit big business.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), possibly the biggest liar in the Senate, said the loss of abortion rights won’t bother most voters although it “might be a little messy for some people.” He blithely commented that women can just drive across state lines for the procedure. No worry about lack of resources, distances from blocks of states banning choice, laws blocking getting an abortion in another state, prosecution for getting an abortion at all. Republicans want to have it both ways—get rid of all abortions while persuading the 70 percent of pro-choice voters that he’s not really against women having reproductive rights. The GOP just wants the discussion to disappear before the 2022 election.

House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agrees with Johnson that voters for congressional members don’t really care. And Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that “angry leftists … don’t even know that overturning Roe means.” They haven’t noticed that 26 percent of respondents to a Monmouth University poll rated their top concern, only one percent below the economic policy. That’s far above the nine percent of them rating abortion policy as the top concern a year ago. McConnell also tries to persuade people that getting an abortion won’t be any problem because it’s up to the states. People who have seen their rights disintegrate won’t believe that either.

In Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked draft of the ruling that overturns Roe, he bases part of his opinion on the “great” and “eminent” legal authority, Sir Matthew Hale. The English judge and lawyer who died in 1676 at the age of 67, he presided over a witchcraft trial in which he sentenced two “witches” to death.  His “History of the Pleas of the Crown,” published posthumously in 1736, stated that authorities should distrust women who claimed to have been raped, a position still popular in the second half of the 20th century and used even in the 21st century. He wrote the marital rape exemption protecting a man from prosecution if he raped his wife because marriage means the woman has put her body under her husband’s permanent dominion “which she cannot retract.” In the U.S., no state could prosecute a man for raping his wife—even brutally—until 1970. At the current time, 21 states are still more lenient toward marital rape than rape outside the marriage. Men will cling to a legal system in which men complete control their wives.  

His claim about the “deep roots” of history ignores common law in the first decades of the United States that did not regulate abortion before “quickening”—the first feeling of fetal movement occurring as late as 25 weeks into pregnancy. Alito ignored Hale’s description declaring abortion as a crime “if a woman be quick or great with child.” And he uses as his justification the man who sentences women to death as witches, knows women are liars, and believes women own their wives’ bodies.

Blocking abortion will lead to preventing other human rights such as contraception, same-gender relationships and marriage, biracial marriage, transgenderism, etc. All these rights will be blocked by Republican legislators and their activist partisan judges in a huge government overreach eliminating freedom and liberty for half the people in the country. The GOP has claimed they objected to this practice with Democrats but are now allowing only Christian evangelical laws.  

January 8, 2022

Progress Post-January 6?

Yesterday’s blog post railed against the ignorance of the Fox network. It seems that at least one of the Supreme Court justices is using that ignorance to support his opposition to any mandates for COVID vaccinations. Neil Goruch said during the arguments—on the record—that the flu kills “hundreds, thousands of people every year.” His message is that COVID isn’t really a big deal. CDC reports that influenza kills between 12,000 and 52,000 annually. By the time, Gorsuch made that statement, COVID had officially killed over 850,000 people, 385,000 in 2020 and the remainder in 2021. This figure doesn’t count the deaths that coroners refused to acknowledge as being from COVID or didn’t pay for testing to determine the cause of the people who died. The Economist’s Supreme Court reporter Steven Mazie wrote that Goursuch actually laughed when the U.S. Solicitor General called the coronavirus pandemic “terrible.” The day before Gorsuch made that statement, 870,702 people became infected, and 2,056 people died of COVID–in the U.S. He was also the only justice present who didn’t wear a mask. 

The time of the January 6 anniversary, however, may show some optimism.

Headlines repeat that December added “only” 199,000 jobs, but the they skipped a couple of important—and positive—facts. First the unemployment dropped to a  new unemployment low of 3.9 percent from the 4.2 percent of November, almost to the 50-year-old of 3.5 percent of February 2020. The two jobs reports for October and November, a total of 766,000, were also revised upward by 141,000 jobs. The person in charge of figuring the initial number of new jobs is an appointment by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) has consistently lowballed the numbers for headlines, perhaps to make President Joe Biden look bad, before quietly correcting them later. Biden’s first year averaged 537,000 new jobs per month, making it one of he best years for the labor market in U.S. history. Manufacturing also continues to grow.

Since Biden was inaugurated, an additional four million people have health insurance, and families who have coverage through the Affordable Care Act are saving an average of $2,400 in annual premiums. Eighty percent of ACA consumers are paying $10 a month for good coverage. Under DDT, the number of uninsured increased by seven million. [visual – health insurance Trump]

Justice has been accomplished in the killing of a young Black jogger in Georgia by three White men who chased him in pickups before fatally shooting the unarmed man. Three of them have been sentenced to life in prison, two of them without parole. All three wee convicted of felony murder or committing felonies causing Ahmaud Arbery’s death, and one of them was also convicted of malice murder, intent to kill. They were also convicted of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit a felony.

Originally seen as a citizens’ arrest, the murder of Ahmaud Arbery might have gone unpunished if not for the dogged research of a local journalist. The first DA to handle the case faces allegations of bias and instruction against arrest, rare charges. The three convicted killers also face hate-crime charges in a trial to begin next month. The federal indictment includes interference with Arbery’s rights and attempted kidnapping, alleging the defendants used “force and threats of force to intimidate and interfere with Arbery’s right to use a public street because of his race.”

Cyber Ninjas, the Florida private company paid $5.6 million by Arizona’s state GOP Senate to count ballots for Maricopa County, faces sanctions of $50,000 a day until it turns over records that the Arizona Republic has requested. On January 6, a court found the firm in contempt of court because the Ninjas had continually refused to follow court orders. Cyber Ninjas has terminated its employees and plans to shut down.

Maricopa GOP officials has issued a 93-page report debunking all frivolous claims of voter fraud and a four-hour livestreamed rebuttal of 76 out of 77 accusations as mistaken, misleading, or completely false. The one claim not rejected involved 50 votes that may have been double-counted. GOP Senate President Karen Fann said Maricopa County finally admitted it had “erred.” The company’s examination of ballots revealed a few more votes for Biden and a few less for DDT. Doug Logan, the Ninjas’ chief executive, began his so-called audit with the false assertion that Arizona’s voting machines were rigged. Of the county’s 2.1 million votes, the ballot count found only 37 possible ballots among the 53,304 labeled suspect; the 37 were referred to the state attorney general.

Devin Nunes is no longer a member of the House of Representatives as he moves to become CEO of DDT’s new tech company, Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG). The new minority leader of the House Intelligence Committee, Ohio’s Mike Turner, plans to move away from the past partisanship by being more independent of DDT. In 2019, Turner had signed a letter to oust Rep. Adam Schiff but no longer wishes to do so. Instead, Turner wants “to work across the aisle and to try to advance what’s important to our country.” 

Having been a dairy farmer, Nunes has no experience as either an executive or in the technology industry. TMTG plans to merge with Digital World Acquisition Corp. (DWAC), a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), a type of shell business raising money from investors to acquire a private start-up with strong growth prospects, being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Also being investigated by SEC is Arc Capital, the Chinese firm helping DDT take TMTG public. Federal securities regulators allege the firm misrepresents shell companies with no products and few products as ambitious, growing enterprises. Their office locations are usually PO boxes.

Founded in 2015, Arc helped create DWAC that raised over $1.2 billion to complete its merger with TMTG. If the deal is approved by shareholders and regulators, it can make DDT a great deal of month by turning TMTG into a public company overnight. DDT’s name pushed DWAC’s shares to five times the listing price despite no information about the business. Little information about TMTG has been released. A securities lawyer said it’s “a shell company basically merging with another shell company.” In 2017, the SEC topped three Arc-backed companies from publicly selling shares and suspended trading in a fourth Arc-financed business. Mexican entrepreneur Abraham Cinta, Arc’s founder, said U.S. securities regulators are looser in registering companies than those in China and Hong Kong, making it easier to take unproven companies public.  

DDT’s company will present “Truth Social” as a competitor to Twitter and partner with Rumble, a video-sharing site spreading anti-vaxxer and QAnon conspiracy theories for its video and streaming services. The Canadian tech company launched in 2013 saw its popularity skyrocket last year after support by DDT and others such as Dan Bongino. Financial backing comes from Silicon Valley’s Peter Thiel and Senate candidate JD Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy. Rumble’s channels are run by QAnon influencers banned by YouTube and Facebook.

Other DDT ventures have been investigated, including his charitable foundation, shut down by New York’s AG, and Trump University, closed with a $25 million settlement to former students. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is also checking into DWAC’s share trading.

 According to Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), former Trump White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham has provided names in connection with the January 6 insurrection not previously known and “identified some minds of inquiry that had never occurred to me.” Grisham also said she and over a dozen other former DDT officials are meeting next week in an effort to “stop” DDT from destroying democracy and getting re-elected.

According to other reports, DDT laughed at members of Congress when they were relating the trauma of January 6, sometimes accusing them of faking their emotion for attention, and calling some of the police officers at the Capitol that day “pussies.” Grisham said DDT “was in the dining room [on January 6] gleefully watching on his TV as he often did. ‘Look at all of the people fighting for me.’ Hitting rewind, watching it again.”

Republican lawmakers said nothing happened to the Capitol on January 6 because they went back the next day and it looked fine. They ignored the hard work of maintenance people who cleaned the insurrectionists fecal matter off the walls, picked up the debris from destroyed objects, repaired the broken windows and doors, and more. And they weren’t the only ones. Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) not only posted a Twitter thread about his thoughts when he returned to the House chamber after the destruction but also knelt to pick up the glass and other debris. It wasn’t for a photo op, and many reporters passing him didn’t realize the man in the blue suit was a member of Congress. The photographer, AP’s Andrew Harnick, didn’t know Kim’s identity until Reps. Dean Phillips (D-MN) and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) told him.

September 23, 2021

COVID Unvaccinated Leads to Less Health Care, Increased Costs

Over four years ago, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) appointed Michael Flynn as his national security adviser. Flynn lasted three weeks before DDT fired him, ostensibly because Flynn “lied” to VP Mike Pence although there were several other reasons. Before DDT left the Oval Office he pardoned Flynn who had pled guilty to lying to the FBI as well as other multiple charges and who plotted the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. Now Flynn stated that the “deep state” (aka people who don’t believe in QAnon conspiracy theories) plans to put COVID vaccine in salad dressing to impose their will on “us.”

Flynn is part of the cabal bringing death to people in the United States through the anti-vax movement. Over a decade ago, one of my friends complained that the Affordable Care Act would kill people because it would cause a shortage of doctors. People didn’t die, however, because millions more people had health insurance. But in 2021, conservatives are killing people because they refuse to be vaccinated.

A huge influx of seriously ill—unvaccinated—people has been inundating the hospitals for months, blocking necessary access for those who need medical care such as dialysis and ventilators as well as for others who have cancer, heart issues, dialysis, etc. from necessary access. Now hospitals are denying this care in at least three states—Alaska, Idaho, and Montana—where hospitals are rationing health care. And all because people refuse to be vaccinated. These three states have declared “crisis standards,” which uses legal protection in prioritizing care. Qualifications include both health issues and roles in society, i.e., higher status for health-care workers or politicians with essential responsibilities. Arizona and New Mexico had declared crisis standards in some hospitals for short periods in 2020.

Only 40 percent of people in Idaho are vaccinated, and the state has no mandated masks or other health requirements. A regional health board just appointed a doctor who called COVID vaccinates “fake.” One hospital still not declaring the crisis standard has delayed elective and nonurgent surgeries and checks vital signs less often. The state’s crisis plan prioritizes children through 17 years old, pregnant women, adults from younger to older, and patients who “perform tasks that are vital to the public health response of the crisis at hand.” Those who don’t meet the standards will receive palliative care. One patient suffering a major trauma was sent 800 miles away to Sacramento.

In Montana one hospital said its ICU was operating at 150 percent, and another said shortage of medications keeps them from treating everyone. Oxygen may be administered without monitoring. People going to Providence Alaska Medical Center emergency room must wait in their cars for care, and the hospital has no more staffed beds. Only 48 percent of people in the state are vaccinated.

Another reason for overloaded hospitals is the myth that Ivermectin will protect people from COVID. In rural Oklahoma, emergency rooms and ambulances are backed up because people are taking doses meant for a 1,000-pound horse. One doctor said that gunshot victims have trouble getting into places where they can get care, and ambulances have to wait at the hospital for beds to open up. Symptoms in minor Ivermectin cases are nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, cramping, and don’t forget the inability to control bowels. Worse than that is vision loss, coming from a medication with no evidence of being effective against COVID. A recent review of 14 Ivermectin studies, with more than 1,600 participants, show no help for preventing COVID, and another 31 studies are still underway. One of the biggest trials, the Together Trial, was stopped on August 6 because Ivermectin was no better at a placebo in preventing hospitalization of a longer stay in the emergency room. The leader of the study said that the study would have been halted earlier for no evidence except for the public interest in the drug.

Even states with more vaccinated people, such as California and Washington, are experiencing the “tipping point” of care as people from those crisis states flood into other areas. Hawaii’s governor signed an order releasing health-care facilities and workers from liability if they must ration health care. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told Idaho Governor to stop “clogging up my hospitals.”

This week, the U.S. averaged 153,000 new covid cases and 1,940 deaths each day. Today, clearly identified COVID deaths are 252 short of 700,000, and 2,228 people died in the past day. The so-called Spanish flu of 1918-19 killed 675,000 people, and fewer than the number of those who died from combat in all the American wars.

  WellSpan Health, a health care system covering South-Central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland reports younger and sicker COVID patients—and  90 percent of them are unvaccinated. Despite this knowledge, the stupidity and ignorance of anti-vaxxers and their leaders continues.

While unvaccinated people block those with vaccinations from hospitals, the latter is paying hospital expenses for the 98 percent of people who want the freedom to infect themselves and others. The average hospitalization cost of between $20,000 and $24,000 with ventilators far more expensive is paid by taxpayers and insurance that increases because of vastly higher premiums. An analysis of data shows 32,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations in June, 68,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations in July, and another 187,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations among unvaccinated adults in the U.S. in August, for a total of 287,000 across the three months. These costs do not reflect the medical expenses of “long-haul” COVID and welfare for those who cannot work because of the aftereffects of the disease that unvaccinated people chose to contract.

Insurance companies, however, are getting fed up with make huge payments for unvaccinated people. Most of the private and group health plans no longer waive “cost-sharing,” co-pays and deductibles, for COVID treatment, including hospitalization. The change could mean thousands of dollars sick people may have to pay. Preventable hospitalization for June through August ran over $5 billion.

This story sounds like satire, but the mind of conservatives can sometimes be hard to fathom.  Breitbart News’ John Nolte talked with Howard Stern about a conspiracy theory that vaccine-believers are using “reverse psychology” to kill off “Trump supporters.” By pushing vaccines, conservatives won’t take them, and they will die.  Nolte wrote:

“Do you want to know why I think Howard Stern is going full-monster with his mockery of three fellow human beings who died of the coronavirus? Because leftists like Stern and CNNLOL and Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi and Anthony Fauci are deliberately looking to manipulate Trump supporters into not getting vaccinated. If I wanted to use reverse psychology to convince people not to get a life-saving vaccination, I would do exactly what Stern and the left are doing…. I would bully and taunt and mock and ridicule you for not getting vaccinated, knowing the human response would be: Hey, f**k you, I’m never getting vaccinated! And why is that a perfectly human response? Because no one ever wants to feel like they are being bullied or ridiculed or mocked or pushed into doing anything.”

With religious exemptions from mandated vaccinations growing popular, Arkansas’ hospital system Conway Regional Health System now gives those exemptions only to people who swear off medications and other vaccinations with the same issues as the COVID vaccine. Their objection to put a substance with fetal cell lines into their bodies also applies to over-the-counter medications including Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, aspirin, Lipitor, Senokot, ibuprofen, Maalox, Benadryl, Sudafed, Claritin, Zoloft, etc. People signing up for religious exemptions to COVID vaccines are also prevented from vaccines such as those for measles, mumps, and rubella. All these medications/vaccines and more were developed using fetal cell lines. A religious exemption also lasts as long as it takes the person time to get another job.

The number of people objecting to vaccine mandates is shrinking. Across the U.S. between 53 and 61 percent of people want proof of vaccination for restaurants, hotels, offices or work sites, events with large crowds, and flying, percentages all up from April.

One reason people say they won’t get vaccinated is that it leads to sterility and sexual disfunction. Studies, however, show they are wrong; instead, contracting the virus causes problems in pregnancy, menstrual cycles, erectile performance, or sperm quality. Pregnant women will get infected more quickly without vaccinations. So not getting vaccinated leads to the sexual problems they fear as well as possibly death.

January 26, 2021

Biden: An Amazing Week

In his first 100 days, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) signed 32 executive orders—fewer than President Joe Biden signed in his first week. Both of them overturned the previous person’s rulings, but Biden did his signings with much less fanfare. DDT always insisted on a large media gathering while he held up his signature each time. He also chose to make policy by himself instead of working with Congress to enshrine his wishes into law.

Within his first week, Biden reversed DDT’s orders to destroy the environment, immigration, and LGBTQ rights. Other documents initiated the management of COVID-19 response, began a movement toward racial equality, undid regulatory restrictions on federal agencies, reinstated ethics pledge for government appointees, terminated building of the wall, paused federal student loan payments, expanded food assistance programs, helped veterans with debt, and provided other federal aid in the midst of the pandemic. A recent order bolsters his “Buy American” agenda and “close loopholes that allow companies to offshore production and jobs while still qualifying for domestic preferences.” Another called for evaluation of DDT’s housing policies and ordered private prison contracts to not be renewed. Biden also emphasized a commitment of Native American tribal sovereignty and denounced anti-Asian discrimination and xenophobia.

Biden revoked DDT’s ban on federal agencies, contractors, and other recipients of federal funding from conducting diversity training exploring racism and privilege. DDT had deemed these trainings harmful to White workers. The Department of Labor had suspended the order’s enforcement after a federal court in California granted a preliminary injunction against it after Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit, but departments including State, DOJ, EPA, and Veterans Affairs had already suspended diversity and inclusion training. The lawsuit will continue in order to ensure organizations suffer no adverse consequences from diversity practices they might have pursued while the order was in effect.

The president also plans to reopen federal marketplaces for the Affordable Care Act for a few months and lower DDT’s barriers to joining Medicaid. DDT had put much greater restrictions on participating in the ACA and dropped all advertising about it.

Biden will also review DDT’s February 2020 “peace” deal with the Taliban to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. According to National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne, Biden wants to ensure the Taliban is “living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan, and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders.” Despite the agreement, Afghanistan has seen surging violence, and the country thinks “the Taliban did not live up to its commitments.”

Domestic terrorism is another threat that Biden is tackling. After DDT spent four years praising these people, considered the most serious threat to the U.S. by a survey of law enforcement, Biden announced a major initiative overhauling the federal approach by ordering intelligence agencies to conduct a “comprehensive threat assessment” in cooperation with the FBI and the DHS. Press Secretary said the National Security Council wants “fact-based analysis” for policy to counter the domestic terrorism.

One Biden order started the process of amending or reversing over 100 of DDT’s almost 200 anti-environment decisions by stopping them while they are under review.  A major policy is DDT’s alteration of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when DDT eliminated environmental impact reports for many projects and shortened the time for evaluations’ reviews as well as restrictions on public input. A major DDT focus was expanding use and extraction of coal, oil and natural gas. He dropped a provision permitting state and tribal government to reject federal permit decisions on fossil fuel projects. In his last days, DDT destroyed protections by the Endangered Species Act.

Biden plans to put a moratorium on new federal oil and gas leasing although about 10,000 approved applications are still not in use, meaning companies can proceed with them.

The new president also plans to revoke DDT’s order changing career employees into political appointees. Affecting tens of thousands of career employees, DDT’s order would have removed all rights from career employees and allow him to fire them at will with no justification. DDT’s orders also removed paid time for fulfilling certain union responsibilities and gave agencies the ability to decide on their own penalties for perceived poor performance or misconduct.

Other changes are replacing Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, something DDT delayed for several years into the future, and using an American Sign Language interpreter at all press conferences. DDT had refused to have an ASL interpreter. Biden is also replacing White House Dr. Sean Conley, who admitted lying to the public about DDT’s COVID-19 treatment and condition. Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Conley’s replacement, has treated Biden since 2009.

A federal judge in Texas appointed by DDT blocked Biden’s 100-day deportation “pause” for 14 days. Texas AG Ken Paxton, Paxton, under investigation for alleged state securities fraud, bribery, etc., cheered at his “victory.”

In one victory, however, the DOJ rescinded he DHS “zero tolerance” policy, causing family separations among asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants crossing the border. Acting AG Monty Wilkinson ordered federal prosecutors to return to return to the previous policy of acting on merits of each case. DDT’s policy required every adult illegally crossing the border be prosecuted.

While all except five GOP senators think that DDT should be put on trial for his crimes, confirmations for Biden’s appointments are still gradually moving forward. One reason for the decision to put a Republican elected as president above the law may be fear. Instead of starting a third party to re-elect him, DDT plans to control the GOP and promises vengeance against any Republican who isn’t his loyalist. DDT has already threatened non-loyalists with primary challengers. According to rumors, Ivanka Trump may primary Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in 2022.Most GOP senators are weaseling out of convicting DDT by calling the impeachment “unconstitutional.” In Florida, DDT has established “The Office of the Former President” for political action. 

After confirming Avril Haines for Intelligence Director, it is leisurely confirming more Biden appointments. It confirmed the first Black secretary of the Defense Department, Lloyd Austin, by 93-2 with only Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Mike Lee (R-UT) as holdouts. Biden has ordered a 90-day commission to pursue solutions to sexual assault in the military. Janet Yellen was confirmed, 84 to 15, as the first female secretary of the Treasury Department and faces the worst economy in decades. Antony Blinken, Biden’s pick for secretary of state, won Senate confirmation by 78-22.

After Biden had his first call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the White House, for the first time in four years, is releasing information about the conversation. Topics of the call:

  • Concern about the Russian SolarWinds hacking campaign breaching DOJ email accounts.
  • Reports of Russian bounties on U.S. troops.
  • Russian interference in the 2020 presidential election.
  • Concerns about the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
  • The Kremlin’s recent treatment of peaceful protesters demonstrating in support of Navalny.
  • Support for Ukrainian sovereignty.
  • A goal of extending a nuclear arms treaty for five years with Russia.

According to the White House press release:

“President Biden made clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies. The two presidents agreed to maintain transparent and consistent communication going forward.”

Biden’s first approval rating since his inauguration shows 63 percent support from registered voters. He received 61 percent support for the economy, stimulating jobs and fighting terrorism, 60 percent for foreign affairs, and 57 percent for immigration. The highest ratings came from administering the government, 65 percent, and handling the pandemic, 69 percent. https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/13/trump-approval-rating-poll-458602  DDT’s last approval rating was 34 percent, the lowest of his four years. Disapproval was at 63 percent for DDT, the same as Biden’s approval rating.

Up ten percent from a week ago, 50 percent of people have confidence in the government’s information about COVID-19. False information, however, comes from pro-DDT areas. Studies of “excess deaths” show the number of deaths from COVID-19 is 31 percent higher than currently reported, with most of these “excess deaths” in areas leaning toward DDT, especially rural areas. According to an analysis, “25 percent of counties with the most Trump voters in 2020 [have] 163 excess deaths for every 100 Covid-19 deaths.”

One reason for high disparities is that deaths might be counted as COVID-19 related only if people are tested for the virus, and DDT’s poor testing infrastructure led to ignorance. The highest correlations were between high excess deaths and elected non-medical coroners, especially when rural coroners must pay for post-mortem testing from their own budgets. These officials also suffer from pressure by families’ beliefs about how their relatives die. People claim they don’t have COVID-19 when they are dying from the disease, and officials in pro-DDT areas lie about the cause of death.

As of January 26, 2021, world cases have topped 100 million and deaths are over two million. Today another 148,265 infections in the U.S. top the total over 26 million in a year, and the 4,045 deaths in the U.S. bring the total to 435,452—with another 135,000 “excess deaths.”

October 2, 2020

DDT, Melania Trump Test Positive for COVID-19

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 12:24 AM
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Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his wife Melania have become statistics. They joined the almost 7.5 million people in the U.S. diagnosed with COVID-19. Fortunately, they have health insurance for their illness, unlike the 44 million people in this country with no health insurance, and another 38 million with inadequate health insurance.

Tests for people coming to the White House were stopped months ago, and people who have not been tested interact with those who were tested. Boris Johnson, UK prime minister, and Jair Bolsonaro, Brazilian president, also contacted the coronavirus; Johnson was in intensive care with the disease.

According to public health experts, COVID-19 patients may carry the virus for several days before testing positive. DDT may have exposed people to the virus for the past week, including the people at the debate on Tuesday night as his shouting may have projected airborne particles farther than the recommended social distancing of six feet. In addition to DDT’s aide, Hope Hicks, several people at the White House have tested positive to COVID-19.

The 25th Amendment (1967) declares if DDT were to become medically incapacitated, he could temporarily transfer power to VP Mike Pence until he deems himself fit for duty. If Pence became ill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) would step in.

Global markets dropped after the announcement, and U.S. futures market stocks indicate the indexes will open 1.5 percent lower on Friday. Crude oil prices and Treasury bonds also fell. All DDT rallies and fundraisers have been canceled.

January 30, 2020

Health on Downward Slide under DDT

While many people fixate on the impeachment trial of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), he is further destroying health care while causing illnesses. After polling shows that Democrats received higher approval for healthcare than Republicans, DDT attacked his HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Then he tweeted:

“I was the person who saved Pre-Existing Conditions in your Healthcare. I will always protect your Pre-Existing Conditions, the Dems will not!”

DDT fought to take healthcare protections for people in his repeal-and-replace proposals and in his support for a federal lawsuit that removes pre-existing protections in healthcare. When DDT couldn’t repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), he moved to take Medicaid from millions of people by giving states block grants for Medicaid that caps federal funding for coverage. The badly named “Healthy Adult Opportunity” allows states to turn away qualified applicants, deprive people of needed medication, and limit health benefits. Medicare/Medicaid administrator Seema Verma, who wants to remove as many people as possible from Medicaid, said, “This policy is about helping people achieve the American Dream.” Her argument is that people who can’t get Medicaid is a “good outcome” because “they don’t need the program anymore.” DDT’s plan will force many people out of nursing homes.

The GOP and DDT hope that they can wait until after this year’s election to deal with the Affordable Care Act so people won’t know that they will lose their health care with no replacement by electing GOP control. A majority of the Supreme Court has helped by denying a request to expedite the challenge to the ACA from the House of Representatives and Democratic-led states. 

A serious problem with current healthcare in the U.S. is that it allows health insurance that provides little more than “thoughts and prayers”—and the purchasers don’t know that the companies may not pay for their medical costs. “Traditional” insurance has legal requirements because of the ACA, but “alternative” coverage doesn’t have these regulations, many of them from “faith-based” providers. This fake insurance will expand with DDT’s possible new rules with workplace Health Savings Accounts. Denial of payment can come from “lifestyle” choices, “preexisting conditions” prevented in traditional insurance, and caps in coverage. For example, the Aliera plan requiring purchasers to belong to a religious group and oppose abortion, appears to have coverage. One client, however, was told to “trust in God” when the company refused to pay the $200,000 for back surgery after it told the purchaser that the cost was covered. “Faith-based” healthcare sharing “ministries” take monthly contributions from over a million people and work like GoFundMe programs. These inexpensive plans use misleading—sometime fraudulent—advertising because DDT’s executive orders give them that permission.

The religious plans were exempted from the ACA individual mandate to get votes from Democratic senators representing conservative states, and DDT succeeded in repealing the individual mandate in 2017. He also took executive action to promote insurance with substandard coverage, and the plans flourished with little or no oversight. They can refuse any claim and define “pre-existing” any way they wish, such as a broken arm. Preventative and mental health care are also not covered. Their customers lack any recourse because of no regulations and the contracts they sign.

Even people with traditional insurance pay higher premiums than anticipated from the ACA because the law lost the individual mandate that everyone have health insurance. “Healthy” people decide to not get health insurance, with their assumption that they will never need it. When they need care, they go to emergency rooms and leave the costs to the hospitals or the government.

An increasing number of people with traditional health care can’t afford medical care such as visits to doctors and medication. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine reports that more people in the U.S. lack funds for medical care than twenty years ago. Problems come from the rise of “narrow networks, high-deductible plans, and higher co-pays.” Between 1998 and 2017, the share of adults 18-64 unable to visit doctors increased from 11 percent to 16 percent, and those with health insurance, the share rose from seven percent to almost 12 percent. Adult Canadians reported only 1 percent of adults over 45 with a chronic disease unable to meet medical needs because of high costs compared to 18.7 percent in the U.S.

Last year, 25 percent of people in the U.S. said that they or a family member postponed treatment for a serious medical condition in the past year because of cost, compared to 19 percent in the previous year. Another 8 percent reported a delay for a less serious condition, bringing the total to one-third of the U.S. population. The percentage tied that in 2014, the first year of complete ACA implementation.

Meanwhile, health insurance and drug industries make a huge profit. Insurance premiums increased 22 percent since 2014 and 54 percent in the past decade while wages remained largely flat. Deductibles increased by 36 percent since 2014 and 100 percent in the past decade. In 2018, people in the U.S. borrowed $88 billion for healthcare costs, and healthcare costs–the leading cause of bankruptcies–force 530,000 people to annually go into bankruptcy. 

Many people prefer for-profit “Medicare Advantage” plans because they get dental and eye coverage that people on traditional Medigap plans lack. This year, the program added even more “advantages” to help older people. Those who use these plans, however, may be unfamiliar with government audits showing that Medicare Advantage plans pose “an imminent and serious risk to the health of… enrollees” and overcharge taxpayers by $10 billion a year. Another report shows that the plans are not submitting accurate claims data, and they may be paid for services that they provide.  Last year, six senators described wrongdoings by several corporations including UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, Cigna and Humana—tens of billions of dollars in overcharges, failure to cover required care, inaccurate provider directories, etc.

Conservatives argue against single-payer health care with two primary reasons—they want freedom to not have health care and the system costs too much. In just 2017, U.S. insurers and healthcare providers spent $812 billion on paperwork and other administrative activities, according to a study reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine. These costs are 34.2 percent of U.S. total national health expenditures in that year and twice what Canada spends on healthcare administration in the same year. U.S. insurers and providers pent $2,497 per person on healthcare administration in 2017 compared to Canada’s cost of $551 per capita. The study found that “Medicare for All” could save over $600 billion per year, just on bureaucracy.

While DDT removes healthcare from people, he makes health worse in the United States. For decades, health professional believe that exposure to radiation can cause cancer; now DDT wants to “relax” regulations for radiation in the U.S. to “have a positive effect on human health.” According to a witness at a congressional hearing, exposure to radiation and other carcinogen that stress the body makes people healthier by putting bodies’ repair mechanisms work better, like exercise and exposure to sunlight. DDT’s transition team member Steven Milloy, who supports this idea, also denies human-made climate change and any health risks from tobacco. Milloy, a Fox consultant, also supports the use of pesticide DDT and asbestos.

DDT makes people sick in other ways. Anxiety, depression, and anger are the highest since 2007. People in the U.S. have a 20 percent higher stress rate than most of the 143 countries in the 143 countries in the Gallup poll, including Venezuela and Rwanda. For the first time, counselors see patients in therapy because of politics.

A report from the New York University Law Schools State Energy and Environmental Impact projects that the rollback of about 100 environmental protection rules will cause, in the next decade, “1,630 more incidences of premature deaths, 120,000 additional asthma attacks, and 140,000 missed school days and 48,000 lost work days.” The EPA estimates an additional 300 to 1,500 human death each year from air pollution.

A 2019 study shows that fracking is tied to skin, genital, and urinary diseases. Researchers theorize that drilling activity may be related to risky sexual behaviors. Disruptions to buried bacteria and chemical exposures in drinking water may be an affect. Other studies show links to cardiovascular and respiratory issues such as asthma.

DDT has also scrapped regulations to define “organic” beef, pork, and chicken and loosened inspections for pork which can also affect health.

A major problem from DDT’s focus rejection of education about sexual and reproductive health is the spike in rates of STI (sexually transmitted infections) within the United States. For example, gonorrhea infections increased by 82.6 percent within a decade. Almost half the states lack both sex education and HIV education, and Title X funding has been taken from many health care providers. DDT’s administration increased the budget for abstinence-only programs by 67 percent although these programs don’t work.

Much less health care with increased illness. What can go wrong?

December 22, 2019

Week 152 – World, Domestic Affairs

World and domestic affairs beyond impeachment affect the United States through decisions that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) makes.

DDT stayed silent during violent protests from India’s attempt to eliminate secularization. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a conservative re-elected in May, the parliament permits citizenship for undocumented migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh who moved to India before 2014 and belong to one of six religious minorities, excluding Islam. Modi claims that the law protects persecuted religious groups, much like DDT said about his executive order protecting only Jewish people. India is now trying to control protests by shutting down phone and internet access in parts of the country.

Shortly before DDT was elected, Russian interference helped an anti-immigrant movement in Britain pass Brexit, a separation from the European Union. After agonizing over the process for over three years, the Brits elected Boris Johnson as prime minister to finish the process, much to the possible detriment of almost everyone in the country. Like DDT, Johnson is connected to corruption and sexual misconduct. The UK will leave the EU by the last day of 2020 no matter how disastrous, and the UK may have to pay the EU up to £39 billion. Northern Ireland stayed with the EU and will have a customs and regulatory border with Great Britain; Scotland voted to stay with the EU and may separate from the UK.

DDT, close friends with the autocratic Turkish president Recip Tayyip Erdogan, rejected the congressional votes to recognize that the Ottoman’s killing of Armenians in 1915-16 to support Germany in World War I was genocide. In retribution for the congressional resolution, Erdogan threatens to shut down Incirlik air base where the U.S. stores nuclear warheads. DDT called resolution criticizing the killing of 1.5 million Armenians “worthless” and the “biggest insult” to Turkish people. Erdogan also tried to prevent sanctions against Turkey after its military offensive in Syria by threatening to close the Kurecik radar base. Following DDT’s wishes, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tried to block the resolution. On December 12, the Senate unanimously passed the resolution after the House did so with only one no vote. Because resolutions do not have the weight of law, they do not require a president’s signature. 

Israel is headed for its third election in less than a year after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to put together a winning coalition but plans to stay prime minister. The national election to determine the Israeli prime minister is next March, but on December 26, 100,000 Likud party members, Netanyahu’s party, vote for their leaders. Gideon Sa’ar is challenging Netanyahu to represent Likud; the winner is in line to become prime minister.Christians in the Gaza Strip are banned from visiting holy cities such as Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Nazareth for Christmas. Last year, almost 700 Gazan Christians received permits to travel the holy cities.

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor is investigating Israeli war crimes allegedly committed in the Palestinian territories. Netanyahu claims that the ICC has jurisdiction only for sovereign states and denies any Palestinian state. He plans to illegally take over the Jordan Valley, composing one-fourth of the West Bank. In the ICC, Palestine is suing the U.S. for DDT’s moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Two courts, one in the EU and the other in Canada, have also decided that Israel “an occupying power” and “not … a sovereign entity” in determining labeling of products from Jewish settlements in the West Bank.   

The end of the year means tax preparation. Last year the 2017 tax cuts hurt a large percentage of people in the U.S., but large corporations are making out like bandits from their 40-percent tax rate cut. Approximately 400 of the largest corporations in the U.S. paid an average federal tax rate of about 11 percent on their profits last year, roughly half the official rate set by the tax law and half the rate that they averaged between 2008 and 2015. In 2018, corporations averaged 11.3 percent in taxes, the lowest level in over 30 years, while the deficit hit $984 billion, unusual in a supposedly strong economy. There is no evidence of the GOP claim of lower taxes’ cut causing economic growth and boosting business investment. The unemployment rate has stayed low in some areas, but higher wages are largely caused by blue states increasing the minimum wage rate.

In the Fortune 500, 91 corporations earning $101 billion paid no federal taxes last year. Amazon paid no taxes on $10.8 billion in profits and got a $129 million rebate. Firing 800 people, Activision Blizzard made $447 million and received a tax rebate of $243 million, giving them a -54.4 percent.

Overturning the Affordable Care Act would give the wealthy and pharmaceutical companies a huge tax break. The top 1,400 highest-earning taxpayers would receive $3.8 billion, and pharmaceutical companies would pay $2.8 billion less in taxes. People on Medicare would pay more for prescription drugs, and U.S. drug costs are already the highest in the developed world. Twenty million people would lose health insurance, and the poverty rate would increase. Causing a crack in the ACA, a state judge overturned the individual mandate in the ACA despite a Supreme Court ruling that accepted it.

DDT plans to reduce aid to the 39.7 million people in the United States living in poverty by allowing sports stadiums and arenas to use opportunities designed to meet the needs of middle- and low-income people. The 1977 Community Reinvestment Act requires financial institutions to meet the credit needs of all communities where they do business so that they can’t refuse to serve people based on income level and demographics rather than credit worthiness. Under DDT’s plan, investors can delay taxes or reduce tax payments on their capital gains while building stadiums that displace people of color. 

Eating pork may be dangerous under DDT’s new rules, according to Food Safety and Inspection Service inspectors Jill Mauer and Anthony Vallone, who filed whistleblower disclosure forms. A pilot program for over 92 percent of U.S. pork plants will provide fewer inspectors who must stand at a distance while untrained plants’ employees check carcasses and still try to maintain line speeds. Defects can include feces, sex organs, toenails, bladders, and unwanted hair—think Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Beef processing may suffer from the same MO.  

The U.S. Forest Service is permitting Canada’s Midas Gold to write the environmental report necessary to obtain approval for mining in Idaho after a “collaborative” meeting that included Midas. In that way, Midas can avoid habitat restoration work to protect the surrounding area.

In a software failure, Boeing’s Starliner, intended to fly NASA astronauts to space, didn’t get to the right orbit. A few days earlier, Boeing announced it was stopping the production of the 737 Max that killed 346 people in two crashes and demonstrated multiple other problems. The planes have been grounded since March 11, pending approval for planes being built. Almost 400 737 Max jets at the Renton (WA) facility are costing the company about $4.4 billion every three months for production, storage, and maintenance. Although Boeing may not have any work stoppage, hundreds of other U.S. manufacturers in its supply chain may be forced to lay off workers. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that Boeing’s problems had taken 0.4 percent off the GDP for the year.

For years, the FAA allowed Boeing to perform its own inspections. High level Boeing officials knew about the planes’ problems and lied to the FAA. Earlier this month, the FAA fined Boeing $3.9 million for “knowingly submitted aircraft” to the agency for safety certification even after learning that crucial wing components “could not be used due to a failed strength test.”

State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo not only fired Bill Taylor, acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, but also told him to get out of the country early because he didn’t want to be photographed with the highly respected career diplomat. Pompeo urged Taylor to take the job, and Taylor then testified to the House Intelligence Committee about DDT’s attempts to extort Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Taylor believes his obligation is to the country, not DDT, and Pompeo wants to be the senator from Kansas.

Another of DDT’s circle of associates is now heading for prison, but Rick Gates, associate of DDT’s campaign manager Paul Manafort, gets only 45 days after evading taxes and concealing millions of dollars representing pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine after Gates’ cooperation. Manafort, DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, and DDT’s first national security adviser are in the slammer. George Papadopoulos, DDT’s former campaign adviser on foreign policy, and Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who worked with Manafort and Gates, have finished their prison sentences. Roger Stone, longtime DDT adviser and confidant, awaits sentencing. DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani faces a criminal investigation. Others connected to DDT include Richard Pinedo, who has a prison sentence for fraudulently trying to hurt Clinton’s campaign; Sam Patten and Maria Butina, who were charged with being unregistered foreign agents; and those on this long list of indicted Russian individuals and entities. 

New Jersey’s Rep. Jeff Van Drew switched from Republican to Democrat and swore “undying support” to DDT—until someone asked him about it. He said he didn’t say “undying.” Republicans don’t want him.

September 20, 2017

GOP Desperate to Pass Bad Bill to Get Re-elected

“We need to pass something–anything. We promised.” That’s the excuse behind the most recent care bill, the fourth one this year, that is the worst one thus far. And GOP senators admit that their bill is worse than the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Asked why the GOP bill is better, John Barrasso (R-WY) said that there “shouldn’t be” essential health care benefits in a health care bill.  Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that some “big blue states” would be hit with huge cuts. “The CBO scoring is just a detail,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI). “[States] can do it with less money,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), but he didn’t explain how—probably by not providing health care to as many people.

The bill, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) myopically said, “wouldn’t cut Alabama.” (Not everyone is that lucky: Louisiana, co-author Sen. Bill Cassidy’s state, will lose health insurance for 433,000 people.) Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said “it’s an improvement over Obamacare” because he will “get to vote for repeal it.” Kennedy has one concern about states’ rights in health care: he’s afraid that they may decide to have single-payer plans. He doesn’t want money from the “American taxpayer” to go toward single-payer plans despite the fact that “blue” states pay more to the federal government than they get back. When Kennedy asked for an amendment to stop these states’ rights, Lindsey Graham assured him it was in the bill. Republicans want state innovation but only by their rules.

But Graham may not know what’s in the bill. A senior GOP aide commented, “If there was an oral exam on the contents of the proposal, graded on a generous curve, only two Republicans could pass it. And one of them isn’t Lindsey Graham.” It was obvious he knew nothing about the bill that he “co-authored” during questions from a reporter. The aide added, “You could do a post office renaming and call it ‘repeal-replace’ and 48 Republican senators would vote for it sight unseen.”

Sen. Bill Cassidy, co-author of the bill, has this reason for justifying a bad bill.

“We must [pass the bill by September 30] because there is a mother and father whose child will have insurance because of Graham Cassidy Heller Johnson.”

Otherwise Cassidy flat-out lied in defense of his bill by claiming that it gives more coverage to people and protects people with preexisting conditions. His office claims that the bill, which slashes funding, will provide more funding to every state. Only 15 states will benefit financially. The plan carries the nickname “Screw Blue Bill” because it removes $57,547 per Californian and $33,058 per New Yorker. But states that hurt the most are the ones in poverty that supported Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and expanded Medicaid under the ACA—Louisiana, Arkansas, Arizona, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Maine, Iowa, Alaska, New Mexico, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Montana. And it hurt seniors, disabled, and the poor everywhere. They all have GOP Senators who will vote to take health insurance from their constituents. (More about these states here.) These are the winners and losers in the next decade.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who will push the bill through the House if the Senate passes it, tweeted in favor of the bill:

“I’ll take federalism over Obamacare any day.”

It’s not “federal”: the bill turns money over to states, some of which will feed the funding into balancing their budgets instead of health care. This message comes from the man who has lived off federal money since he was 16 and got Social Security.

The Congressional Budget Office doesn’t have time to score the bill, but experts believe it will throw the same tens of millions of people off health care insurance as earlier GOP bills or be worse. A CBO scoring is mandated for Senate bills, but they plan to vote without “point estimates of the effects on the deficit, health insurance coverage, or premiums for at least several weeks.” Without this knowledge and without reading the bill, senators will be blindly voting on the bill using their personal assumptions.

Cassidy-Graham health care bill would have these impacts:

  • Proposed block grants for states that are below current funding will eliminate marketplace subsidies and enhanced matching rate for the Medicaid expansion and disappear in 2026. States have no requirement to provide coverage or financial assistance to low- and moderate-income people.
  • A per capita cap will replace Medicaid’s federal-state financial partnership that cuts funding for seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children.
  • People with preexisting conditions will lose coverage because the only stipulation for premiums is “affordable” with no consideration for a person’s income.
  • Withdrawal of mandated coverage for essential health benefits means people can purchase health insurance without provisions for mental health, substance abuse treatment, maternity care, and hospitalization.
  • People with preexisting conditions will lose coverage because the only stipulation for premiums is “affordable” with no consideration for a person’s income.
  • States can waive age rating rules, essential health benefits, the prohibition on medical underwriting, prohibition on annual and lifetime limits, and the required medical loss ratio for plans and enrollees who receive some benefit from the state’s block grant funding.
  • The loss of subsidies and insurance mandate destabilize the individual insurance market, risking its collapse.
  • The bill prevents any impetus to fix the ACA, proposed by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) that had a September 27 deadline to stabilize health care for the coming year.

States that created fewer uninsured under the ACA will lose their money to states that were failures. (Another version of winners and losers)

 

Just ignore protesters. That’s the position of GOP senators and DDT who are committed to passing this bill. DDT blocked a 41-year-old woman with State 4 cancer on his Twitter feed because of her appeals to him. The Cassidy-Graham bill would place a $140,510 surcharge on an annual health premium for a 40-year-old woman with metastatic cancer.

Half the governors signing a letter opposing the Cassidy-Graham bill to decimate health care are not Democrats. They were joined in opposition by GOP Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland. Sixteen patient and provider groups, from the American Heart Association to the March of Dimes, criticized the bill for destroying Medicaid and protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Other medical groups urged Republicans to fix the Affordable Care Act instead of the repeal and were joined by hospitals and insurers, appalled by the unworkable and irresponsible concept of 50 insanely different state health care systems.

Senators supporting the Cassidy-Graham bill are pushing hard because September 30 is the deadline to pass any bill with a simple majority. After that the filibuster goes into effect.

Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ)  governor, Doug Ducey, asked him to vote for the bill despite Ducey’s not knowing how much money his state will lose. (Governor Ducey, you’ll lose over $1 million a year until 2026 when you’ll start losing lots more. Does that make a difference?) Twelve days ago, McCain said that health care reform “must” follow regular order. He may rationalize a couple of hearings, on before the Senate Homeland Security Committee with no jurisdiction over the issue, as “regular.” The bill has two witnesses—co-author Cassidy and Graham. GOP Senators plan to change almost 20 percent of the world’s largest economy and endanger the health security of tens of millions of people without minimal committee hearings and no testimony from experts, debates, or public input—all for a partisan win.

A reporter who interviewed nine GOP senators found these five lies, according to Forbes: (1) States will be more “efficient”; (2) It’s the last chance to do anything; (3) The ACA is responsible for rising healthcare premiums; (4) The decrease in future rates of growth is not a cut; (5) States need to be the innovators; and (6) The problem is some states get the lion’s share of the federal money. As the conservative magazine pointed out, the one truth is that the entire issue with the Republicans is “about politics and not public policy.”

Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of the Nation wrote:

“GOP legislators … assume low-wage and moderate-income families should have less health-care protection than the wealthy…. Republicans want to strip millions of health insurance, including seniors in the last days of life, the disabled and women with infants. Democrats want everyone to have the right to affordable health care. There is a choice.”

Passing the Cassidy-Graham bill destroys both health care and the democratic process.

May 4, 2017

Make America Suffer Again

The House passed its “We Don’t Care” bill this morning to take health insurance away from tens of millions of people in the United States. The 217-213 had 20 GOP “no” votes from those smart enough to know how furious their constituents would be with a “yes” vote. Only one of them belonged to the scorched-earth Freedom Caucus. Voters didn’t even have an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office to help them make a decision.

In their race to the bottom, the GOP also ignored the impact the 100+ million people who get insurance from employers. Because the bill allows large employers to offer the same benefits as state requirements, companies can skimp on benefit standards in states that get waivers to opt out of current ACA regulations. The same employers can also bypass any limits on out-of-pocket expenses for expensive illnesses and impose lifetime limits of cost. Premiums may cost less, as Republicans promised, people would have little health care covered. Congressional members and staff are lucky: the new bill exempts them from losing quality insurance.

In the time of DDT and the GOP, governance means voting for a bill that has a life-or-death impact with no information on costs and other affects. The legislators who voted for it hadn’t even read it and don’t want to know the outcome of their legislation that affects one-sixth of the U.S. economy. Republicans leaders didn’t let anyone read the legislation in advance. All people know about the bill is that gives massive tax breaks to the wealthiest in the nation and guts protections for everyone else. Now that it’s passed, people know what’s in the bill, and it looks even worse than previously believed.

Trumpcare winners:

  • The rich and corporations getting $600 billion in tax breaks.
  • Millionaires getting a $50,000 tax break each year for a total of $275 billion to the richest two percent.
  • The 400 richest families each getting an average $7 million each year.
  • Insurance companies getting $145 billion in tax breaks over ten years.
  • Drug companies rewarded with $25 million in tax breaks over ten years.
  • The richest two percent getting a $117 billion tax cut.

Trumpcare losers are the 24+ million low-income sometimes DDT supporters who lose health care (24 million) or people who will pay up to $13,000 more for premiums. No one will have protection from huge increases in drug costs, and the loss of $117 billion in revenue shortens Medicare’s ability to pay full benefits by at least three years.

Eight years ago, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said this about the Affordable Care Act on MSNBC:

“I don’t think we should pass bills that we haven’t read, that we don’t know what they cost.”

At the same time, Mike Pence ridiculed the Democrats:

“Don’t blame us, we didn’t read the bill we voted for.”

In 2009, House Republicans had a fit about the possibility of voting for the ACA without a CBO score, and Ryan demanded that the CBO analysis be expedited before a vote. In fact, Congress and President Obama and spent 14 months writing that bill in 2009 and 2010 with dozens of hearings, committee markups, and consultation with the health care system that won support from hospitals and doctors while waiting for multiple CBO scores. No one in the health care system wants Trumpcare, and Republicans’ only rationale for voting in favor of the bill is that they promised to do it. Oh yes, and it gives massive cuts to the wealthy.

Perhaps most prescient is DDT’s 2014 tweet:

“It’s Thursday. How many people have lost their healthcare today?”

Today is Thursday, and we don’t know the affect of the House vote, but it’s sure to be tens of millions of people if the House bill passes the Senate.

According to DDT’s statements last Sunday, he hasn’t read the revised plan to satisfy the scorched-earth Republicans. On Face the Nation, DDT told John Dickerson that the bill keeps pre-existing conditions and “I mandate it.” Pressed for clarification, DDT added, “We actually have a clause that guarantees [protections to those with pre-existing conditions].” [No, “we” don’t.] The GOP bill clears the way for states to remove this benefit. DDT said that “Obamacare” “doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions.” [Yes, it does.] Even VP Mike Pence said that Republican policymakers are “keeping our promises to protect people who have pre-existing conditions.” Of course, he believed that Michael Flynn didn’t have anything to do with the Russians.

According to a Harvard study about the health care bill, Trumpcare would “effectively end enrollment in the insurance markets for families that make less than $75,000 a year.” In 2015, that was over 70 percent of the people in the United States.

Another population that would suffer from Trumpcare are students needing special education help. Medicaid provides schools districts with such services as physical therapists and feeding tubes as well as preventative care like vision and hearing screenings. Republicans voting to do away with these services may not know about this issue because the House did not allow any public testimony before the vote.

If DDT and Congress are successful in repealing the ACA, discrimination can be the law of the land. One section is the ACA stops federal funds from going to anyone or any group discriminating on the basis of race, skin color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. That includes pregnancy, sex stereotyping, gender identity; religious-connected providers could deny contraception, sterilization, in vitro fertilization, or anything else against “religious” beliefs. People could be turned away from emergency rooms for any reason. At this time, 20 percent of the hospitals in the nation have an affiliation with religion—up 50 percent since 2010, and many times small communities have only these hospitals. At the same time, the federal and state governments are rapidly closing non-religious clinics such as those operated by Planned Parenthood.

In addition to ethical reasons to keep and repair the ACA, its loss will result in the loss of 1.8 billion jobs.

Oregon’s only GOP representative was a leader in destroying the ACA. Greg Walden is now proud of his part in doing away with the small hospitals in his rural district and losing insurance for the largest number of people in his state. DDT acknowledged the part that Ryan and Walden played in taking insurance from Walden’s constituent when he said, “This is the group.” Walden’s district added more Medicaid recipients than any other GOP district and more than all except three Democrat-held districts. That makes it fourth out of 435 districts in helping people under the ACA.  One of Walden’s colleagues pointed out that 640,000 people with pre-existing conditions could lose their insurance, but Walden claimed, “We are protecting people with pre-existing conditions. Those conditions continue to be protected.” Either he has not read the bill, or he lies. People have said he’s a nice man. So sad.

The GOP is backing a losing horse with its argument for less government. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that a majority of people, 57 percent, thinks that government should do more—not less—to help solve the nation’s problems. That’s an increase of 14 percent in just two years and almost double the percentage since 1996. In that time the number of people who think that the government should do less has dropped by over one-third. A study from Baylor University has also found that more government enhances human happiness.

Last month the New York Times’ hired climate denier Bret Stephens. Now the NYT equates Ryan’s lie (“under no circumstance can people be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition”) and Pelosi’s statement (“up to 17 million children … who have pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage by insurers” thanks to the ACA) as both “misleading.” It may be possible that Rupert Murdoch bought the newspaper while I wasn’t paying attention.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) (3rd L)  after signing legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and to cut off federal funding of Planned Parenthood at the U.S. Capitol January 7, 2016 in Washington, DC.

The bill that passed today and moved on to the Senate was even more draconian that the earlier bill, and that one got only 17 percent approval. Yet Republicans are celebrating their success at taking insurance away from 24 million people and allocating much higher charges for people with pre-existing conditions with cases of Bud Light rolled into the Capitol. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and the other GOP leaders are even giddier than they were over a repeal in January 2016. Following their beer-bust in the Capitol, Republicans took buses for more celebration in the White House Rose Garden, historically a place where bills are signed into law. Never before have House Republicans reveled in passing a bill that may not survive the Senate. And certainly not a bill designed to create misery for millions of people in the United States.

It’s a new time: Make America Suffer Again.

March 14, 2017

Trumpcare: The GOP Killer Plan

The Congressional Budget Office has come out with the numbers for Trumpcare (excuse me, The American Health Care Act), and here’s the good news. The deficit could be lowered by $33.7 billion a year. Of course, that accomplishment come from moving costs to the state as well as taking people off Medicaid and government subsidies. For example, Oregon will have to pay 35 percent of health costs instead of the 95 percent that the federal government now covers.

The bad news for Trumpcare by the numbers:

  • 54 million individuals uninsured in ten years, double projections for ACA, according to a leaked White House analysis.
  • 24 million fewer people with coverage by next year.
  • 14 million more uninsured people in one year.
  • 14 million fewer people with Medicaid coverage in 10 years.
  • 7 million fewer people with employer-sponsored coverage in 10 years.
  • 2 million fewer people not buying health insurance each year.
  • 15-20 percent higher premiums in the first year than with ACA.
  • $880 billion cut from Medicaid over 10 years.
  • 15 percent of low income people without services to help women avert pregnancy because of defunding Planned Parenthood that results in thousands of more births. (Savings of $178 million for no care for these women would be offset by increase in Medicaid that pays for 45 percent of all U.S. births.)

Older Americans pay “substantially” more. At the same time, Trumpcare also takes away from the Medicare fund, causing it to become insolvent three or four years earlier than formerly projected unless positive action is taken.

Health insurance companies are encouraged to pay CEOs more because Trumpcare removes the ACA limit on corporate tax deductions for compensation. Under ACA, health insurance companies could deduct only $500,000 of the pay for each top executive making deductions for the companies only 27 percent instead of 96 percent. This limitation has been enough to buy dental insurance under the ACA for 262,000 people or pay the silver plan deductibles for 28,000. The 10 biggest insurance companies paid their top 57 executives a total of $300 in 2013. The provision to give them back the 96 percent was buried in six lines on p. 67, and even Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services, seemed unaware of it until reporters inquired.

Republicans, claiming to be the part of smaller government, also have a provision in Trumpcare that employees without genetic testing as part of their workplace wellness programs can face large penalties in premiums. Existing federal laws don’t have this power because genetic privacy is protected. For example, the Kaiser Family Foundation could charge an additional $5,443 in annual premiums employer-sponsored family health coverage.

An oddity in Trumpcare is its obsession with lottery players, mentioned 11 times, the same number as Medicaid. Six of the 67 pages in the replacement plan focus on lottery winnings. Anyone getting at least $80,000 from the lottery or lotto would be kicked off Medicaid. To give you an idea of the savings, Michigan’s plan, withholding part of lotto winnings over $1,000 and not $80,000—saved $2 million.

Republicans have spent lots of time and energy criticizing the mandate that everyone purchase insurance. Trumpcare’s new system allows insurance companies to charge a 30-percent penalty after a break in purchasing coverage. It’s still a penalty: the only difference is that the money goes to insurance companies and not to the government. It also threatens destabilization of the individual insurance market.

Geographically, Trumpcare is disastrous for DDT supporters. The plan’s elimination of 0.9 percent for additional Medicare tax on wages and 3.8 percent surtax on investment income are only people in the top income stratum. John McCormick’s independent analysis of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan for Bloomberg states:

“Counties that backed him would get less than a third of the relief that would go to counties where Hillary Clinton won. The two individual tax cuts contained in the Republican plan to replace Obamacare apply only to high-earning workers and investors, roughly those with incomes of at least $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for married couples. Taxpayers in counties that backed Trump would see an annual windfall of about $6.6 billion, (an) analysis of Internal Revenue Service data shows. In counties that backed Clinton, it’d be about $21.9 billion.”

The refund of this tax to the wealthy is what keeps the deficit reduction only $33.7 million when the massive cuts to benefits, including Medicaid, should come to much more. Getting rid of ACA’s taxes and annual fees would reduce revenues to the federal government by $592 billion over ten years. Just one person in the top 0.01 percent, for example, will get an extra $197,000 if the bill passes, and people in the top one percent will each get $33,000.

How Trumpers—and people at the same income level—will suffer from Trumpcare: A 64-year-old person with an annual income of $26,500 pays $1,700 a year in annual insurance premiums. Trumpcare will change that annual premium to $14,600 for equivalent insurance. The math makes it an increase of $12,900.

Ryan has made two strategic problems. He tried to push the bill through the House in three weeks; the ACA took over 16 months to pass after four months of groundwork. He also failed to involve any stakeholders. To pass ACA, Democrats developed support by convening health-care groups, largely the same groups that now strongly oppose Trumpcare. In retaliation, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is trying to minimize opposition from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) as just another flawed interest group. Their 37 million members comprise over one-third of the U.S. population over 50 years of age and are likely to be DDT voters. Bush’s 2005 struggle to privatize Social Security failed after AARP’s opposition.

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/why-the-white-house-isnt-sharing-health-care-numbers-its-own?cid=eml_mra_20170314   The White House has its own analysis of Trumpcare. A leaked report from Office of Management and Budget (OMB) shows numbers are even grimmer than those from CBO with 26 million people losing coverage within the next decade instead of CBO’s 24 million. Although the White House called that report wrong, it hasn’t released anything in its place. GOP-confirmed OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, in charge of the health care legislation instead of the Secretary of Health, called the CBO estimates “just absurd” and said that “I don’t believe facts are correct.” DDT may have moved Price because Mulvaney, a founding member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus and former South Carolina U.S. representative, is more conservative than either Ryan or Price.

Congress may also take both health insurance and pensions from retired coal miners. After 22,600 miners retired, the company in charge of their health care gave it to another company that declared bankruptcy and was relieved of responsibility for retiree health care. Both companies finally agreed to pay into a special fund for retiree health care benefits, but one of them stopped contributing. In addition, UMWA’s multi-employer pension plan, serving more than 90,000 retirees and their widows, became severely underfunded. The Miners Protection Act (MPA) uses federal funds to pay for threatened health benefits and strength the pension plan, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked its inclusion for his own constituents in an omnibus budget bill. The four-month extension of health benefits is due to expire on May 1, 2017 if Congress doesn’t act on the bill. Democrats wrote DDT for support in January, but he didn’t respond.

Yesterday Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) talked to some of these miners during a panel discussion in West Virginia. One of them thanked Sanders for his support regarding the bill and said to applause:

“I never dreamt that I’d get to thank you personally for the bill that you are co-sponsoring. I’m one of those miners that will lose his health care at the end of April if they don’t pass that law. I think it’s kind of ironic that a senator from the northeast takes care of my benefits better than someone like Mitch McConnell.”

Sanders told the crowd:

“The Republican bill, it should not be seen as a health care bill, because throwing millions of people off of health care [is not] health care legislation. What it should be seen as is a huge tax break for the wealthiest people in this country.”

Two months ago, DDT promised “insurance for everybody.” He and other Republicans claim insurance access to all—probably the same way that everyone has access to buy a Mercedes-Benz but don’t have the money. Price claimed that Trumpcare would “cover more individuals at a lower cost.” The only way that they can be right is for people to be consigned to crappy insurance plans that may not even cover hospital costs, just as they were before the ACA. To show how obvious DDT is about killing ACA, he sent out an email asking people to “share your Obamacare disaster story.” They have no interest in any success stories or needs from “hard-working Americans like you,” but people have been sending them anyway.

The clearest description of Trumpcare has been provided by comedian John Oliver..

 

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