Nel's New Day

April 5, 2019

DDT: Week 115 – ‘Zombie’ News Stories

Highlighted with flip-flops from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), new revelations, and retribution, the past week has seen a number of stories that just won’t go away—executions, health care, the southern border, the Barr Report, and more.

Texas determined that people being legally executed will not be permitted to have the company of a spiritual adviser during their last moments after the Supreme Court ruled that Patrick Henry Murphy should be permitted the company of his spiritual adviser, a Buddhist. Murphy, however, can still have his spiritual adviser present because the supreme Court made this decision. The Texas death penalty killed half those executed last year.

Boeing finally admitted that the fault lies with the manufacturer in the problems with its 737 MAX 8 with a report that the Ethiopian Airlines crew followed Boeing recommendations but could still not save the jet from its March 10 crash that killed all 157 people on board. The plane’s uncontrollable dive, like that of Lion Air’s plane with another 189 deaths, was caused by a faulty angle-of-attack sensor. A defective sensor in the earlier crash was replaced, but the replacement may also have been defective. An internal review by engineers not connected to the MAX has pushed back Boeing’s fixes to the software by several weeks. The delay could mean months before the aircraft flies again, and sales have been indefinitely delayed.

The Air Force, also concerned about Boeing’s competency, again refused to accept the manufacturer’s KC-46 Pegasus tankers “because of foreign object debris we found in some closed compartments,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said. The tankers were due in 2017, but the Air Force didn’t get its first one until January 2019. The second decision to stop accepting the plans occurred on March 23. Boeing has paid the government over $3 billion for delays and cost overruns. Congress approved $2.4 billion for 25 jets this year, and the Air Force has requested another $2.3 billion for 12 KC-46 tankers in fiscal 2020.

Last week, DDT loved a judge’s ruling that the Affordable Care Act should be overturned and told his DOJ to support the decision in court. For a week, the panicked GOP tried to talk him out of the idea, terrified that more Democrats could win in Congress with the support of the ACA. After DDT was unable to convince people that he had a “beautiful” new healthcare plan, he gave up—until 2021 following the 2020 presidential election. No matter what Republicans say, surveys show that a majority of people like “Obamacare” when polled on its name and an even larger percentage like its benefits to them such no discrimination against them from pre-existing conditions and caps on payouts. [Visual – healthcare]

Congress and DDT battled throughout last week with each telling the other to write the bill and DDT going farther to tout a proposed bill that didn’t exist. In getting rid of healthcare insurance for tens of millions of people, DDT announced that the Republican Party “will soon be known as the party of health care.” DDT finally caved in when Senate Majority Leader told him that the chamber would not work on any replacement for ACA. A day later, less than a week after DDT  tweeted that placement legislation was “moving forward,” he tweeted that he had never intended to repeal ACA at this time:

“I was never planning a vote prior to the 2020 Election on the wonderful HealthCare package that some very talented people are now developing for me & the Republican Party.”

Polling shows why DDT would put off overturning the ACA.  Fifty-four percent of respondents said that they have a lot or some trust in Democratic lawmakers to protect or improve health care compared to 41 percent who prefer Republicans. A strong majority—59 percent—have little or no trust in DDT regarding health care.

The border was another place for DDT’s backtracking. Last week, he said he would close large parts of the southern border, before changing the terminology to “all” the border. Despite warnings that this action would cost $1.5 billion in trade each day—not to count the disappearance of avocados in three weeks—he stuck to his guns by claiming that security is far more important than the economy. The next day he said that Congress could solve the problem of asylum-seekers in 45 minutes. Get rid of all the judges, he suggested.

By yesterday, he decided he would wait a year to close the border so that Mexico could stop the flow of drugs, DDT’s claim for his reasons to stop asylum-seekers. There seems to be a theme of “wait” for DDT’s changes in “policy.” He explained his flip-flop by saying that Mexico had been doing a good job “the last three or four days.” First, he plans to “put the tariffs on the cars” before closing the border, but hours later he denied that he said the border would stay open for a year.

This afternoon, DDT took a few GOP House members on a short tour of border replacement barriers at Calexico that he calls a “new wall.” He talked about the California politicians complaining about forest fires but did praise the new “anti-climb” wall that “looks fantastic—very see-through.” Calexico, about 40,000 population, is considered a “suburb” of Mexicali, capital Mexico’s state of Baja California, that sends many of its 1.5 million population to the U.S. to shop and work. Instead of security needs, Calexico identifies its serious problems from a polluted river and air plus other health issues such as high obesity and diabetes rates. DDT had a good reason for picking Calexico to talk about the wall: it’s a short trip to his California golf club outside Los Angeles. That’s where DDT headed after a couple of hours at Calexico to look at the wall that President Obama initiated.

House Democrats have filed a lawsuit against DDT’s unconstitutionally taking money for his wall. The suit names Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and the departments they oversee. Democrats are using the same position as Republicans who argued that officials couldn’t use federal funds without appropriations. That case tried to eliminate the ACA by not paying insurers. In another lawsuit, the ACLU, the Sierra Club, and 20 states are suing DDT because he tried to use a national emergency to override the congressional refusal to allot him the funding that he demanded. The filing requested a preliminary injunction because of DDT’s “disregard of the will of Congress and violation of fundamental separation of powers principles.” They declare standing because DDT will remove fund from state projects to build his wall. DDT’s declaration resulted in at least five separate lawsuits; the DOJ claims that at least two of them “raise political questions that courts are not equipped to answer.”

The Barr Report is a story that won’t go away for a long time. For almost two years, Robert Mueller meticulously investigated people involved with DDT and their Russian connections before submitting his report to DDT’s lapdog DOJ AG Bill Barr along with summaries for the public. Stephen Colbert’s description of Barr’s four-page “summary” of Mueller’s work:

“That’s like tuning in to see the new season of ‘Game of Thrones,’ and it’s just Barr holding a sign that says, ‘Dragons did some stuff. The end.’”

After more than a week of listening to DDT and other conservatives crowing about the exoneration of DDT by the Mueller investigation, leaks reveal that members of Mueller’s team complained that they had discovered significant and alarming evidence about DDT’s obstruction while he has been in office that Barr excluded from his brief comments. Team members also indicated that information in Mueller’s report is far more damning than the four-page Barr Report reveals.

DDT’s meltdown since Barr released his first statement about the Mueller report hints at DDT’s slow discovery that life might not be as rosy as he hoped. At first, DDT cheered Barr’s report and supporting the release of the complete Mueller report. Then he said he would give Barr the decision whether to release it. A week ago, DDT said “I have nothing to hide.” Four days ago, he complained that “NOTHING WILL EVER SATISY” Democrats, indicating that he doesn’t want them to see the full report.  His earlier “Let the people see” has disappeared. To repeat millions of GOP responses to hiding the Mueller report, why hide the report if it doesn’t damage DDT.

The House Judiciary Committee voted to subpoena the unredacted Mueller report if Barr refuses to give it to them, and Chair Jerry Nadler requested all communication documents between Mueller’s office and the DOJ about the report. Meanwhile GOP senators have five times blocked a vote to release the Mueller report after a bill to do so passed the House by 420-0. Their reasons indicate they hope to protect DDT.

More disastrous news tomorrow about DDT’s tax returns, clearances for family and friends, GOP votes against him as well as fallouts from his decisions in Part II.

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.

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