Nel's New Day

May 1, 2020

DDT Does Nothing about COVID-19, Brags about It

Filed under: Health Care — trp2011 @ 9:21 PM
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The first 100 disastrous days of do-nothing Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in his non-response to COVID-19. A must read!

At her first formal press briefing today, Kayleigh McEnany’s biggest news was that she wouldn’t lie to journalists. Mostly she stuck to spin, misrepresentations, and (possibly) ignorance of the facts, but 15 minutes after her claim, she lied, calling the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh in his Senate confirmation for Supreme Court hearings “verifiably false.” The last White House press briefing was one year, one month, and three weeks ago.

DDT has declared himself a success regarding the virus, claiming that he had saved hundreds of thousands of lives through “aggressive response.” Last week, he considered fewer than 60,000 deaths a success. When the number went above 60,000, he switched to a success of under 100,000 deaths. If the U.S. continues its daily average of 2,000 or more deaths, DDT will be forced to again change his goalposts in under three weeks. DDT said:

“The testing and the masks and all of the things, we solved every problem. We solved it quickly. It’s been really spectacular. So, yeah, I don’t think anybody has done a better job with testing, with ventilator, with all of the things that we’ve done. And death totals, our numbers per million people are really very, very strong. We’re very proud of the job we’ve done.”

DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner joined him in crowing about the “success” of COVID-19 on the day that the economy contracted (aka dropped) by 4.8 percent in the first quarter with much worse results predicted for the second. May 1, the confirmed cases are 1,131,452 and deaths, 65,776. A prediction of deaths two days ago was 73,000, a total possibly reached in the first week of May. Kushner said on Fox & Friends:

“The federal government rose to the challenge, and this is a great success story. And I think that that’s really, you know, what needs to be told.”

The White House Gift Shop is selling commemorative coin for only $125 to demonstrate DDT’s only “success” during his first term. Another coin in the collection has DDT’s face. Advertising states the coin “symbolizes the genius level thinking & proven successes of President Donald J. Trump.” DDT’s campaign also plans to advertise COVID-19 with a red face mask

Afraid of what Dr. Anthony Fauci knows, DDT is blocking him from testifying before an Appropriations Committee about the administration’s response to the pandemic now. Maybe another time.

The federal government believes that the death rate will continue to be “really very, very strong”: it has ordered over 100,000 more body bags—the biggest order on April 21, the day after DDT said the COVID-19 death toll might not be over 50,000 or 60,000 people. At the same time, FEMA opened bidding for 200 rented 53-feet refrigerated trailers throughout the country. Each one would be 3,600 cubic feet; a human body is 1.76 cubic feet. Although Republicans follow DDT’s lead in saying that COVID-19 is no worse than the annual flu, the U.S. doesn’t normally have bodies lying around in U-Haul trucks; rent large numbers of refrigerated truck trailers; and order hundreds of thousands of body bags in a few months for one disease. 

A requirement for opening up businesses and states is extensive testing. Contravening DDT’s claim that “testing is not going to be a problem at all,” FEMA and HHS listed these problems:

“Limited number of diagnostic supplies. Limited capacity of test facilities. Limited trained response personnel to administer the tests. Unknown epidemiological information regarding COVID-19. Access to testing sites by underserved areas and at-risk populations. Effective vaccines and therapeutics will not be available in sufficient quantities to meet the need. PPE is required by [medical countermeasures] developers and manufacturers.”

Tuesday, DDT said that the U.S. can carry out 5 million tests a day, but Brett Giroir, the federal testing official, said current technology doesn’t allow that number. In the U.S., a total of five million people have been tested since March 21—40 days. When the Senate returns to Washington, D.C. in a couple of days, there aren’t enough tests for those 100 people.

DDT refuses to tell where his administration sends supplies for the COVID-19 response and permits six multi-billion medical supply companies receiving taxpayer money to block the data. Also secret is information about financial terms with these companies that reported over $2 billion in profits last year. The White House has also ordered all resource request forms from state, local, and private-sector officials to be routed though the White House.

Maryland first lady Yumi Hogan (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

The federal government is still stealing supplies ordered by state and local governments, but in one case it failed. DDT was furious with Maryland’s governor Larry Hogan who finalized a purchase of 500,000 test kits from South Korea because DDT believes that all COVID-19 belong to him. Yumi Hogan, the governor’s wife who was born in South Korea, used her native language to negotiate the sale of the kits to Maryland. The Hogans and members of the state National Guard met the chartered 777 Korean Air flight at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to take the kits and lock them up in an undisclosed place where the Guard is still watching over them. Larry Hogan said: 

“The administration made it clear over and over again they want the states to take the lead, …, and that’s exactly what we did.”

The federal government succeeded in hijacking one million N95 masks for firefighters in a Florida program to test people in their homes if they cannot get to drive-through testing. The company told them that the federal government took them, according to Frank Rollason, director of Emergency Management for Miami-Dade County. FEMA denied that they had seized any PPE from hospitals, states, or local governments but then said they seize the supplies “from individual bad actors and businesses hoarding PPE.” Yes, and from governments.

While DDT constantly denies that hospitals have any supplies shortages, Richard Stone, in charge of the VA healthcare, admitted that the country’s largest health-care system has a serious shortage because masks and other supplies were diverted to what Jared Kushner calls “our stockpile.” FEMA ordered vendors to send the masks to them instead of the VA. After VA Secretary Robert Wilkie begged, FEMA gave VA ten percent of their order so that employees working with COVID-19 could have more than one mask a day.

ProPublica has an in-depth piece on VA’s effort to find six million N95 respirators, the dissolving of a $34.5 million deal to get them to the VA hospitals, and the deaths of 20 VA staff from COVID-19 without the masks. The company given the procurement contract was inexperienced, and the VA agreed to a 350 percent markup for the costs of the masks. This contract wasn’t an isolated instance: DDT’s administration has paid $5.1 billion in no-bid contracts for COVID-19 supplies. Yet the VA has awarded most large contracts to little-known vendors for orders in which local, state, and federal agencies bid against each other. The end of the exposé:

“On the up side, the VA paid no money to [the company promising to procure masks for the VA] …

“As of [April 29], more than 2,200 VA employees had tested positive for COVID-19.”

New York wasn’t as fortunate. Based on advice from the White House coronavirus task force, the state paid an electrical engineer in Silicon Valley, Yaron Oren-Pines, $69 million for ventilators but never received them. Oren-Pines had tweeted the task force he could make the ventilators for $47,656 apiece—at least three times the going price for ventilators.

DDT blamed Sweden’s large mortality rate for no “lock-down. Late last month, he called on states to “liberate” its resident by lifting shelter-in-place and said he would not continue that recommendation in the U.S.

According to DDT, however, the people who go to Michigan to force their way into the capital with assault rifles and without masks, who violate the social distancing policy and scream at law enforcement, are “very good people.” As satirist Andy Borowitz wrote In “Michigan Governor Arrogantly Forcing Residents to Remain Alive,” satirist Andy Borowitz wrote:

“In a blistering takedown, Attorney General William Barr said the governor was ‘depriving Michiganders of their constitutionally enshrined right to die before their time.’”

The protests came the day after a Michigan court ruled that stay-at-home directives do not violate residents’ constitutional rights. In Kentucky, COVID-19 cases spiked after a week of protests.

 It’s Election Year, and DDT’s blame game goes on while he does nothing to contain the coronavirus.

DDT also declares he will retaliate against China for deliberately creating COVID-19 in a lab, something that U.S. intelligence agencies said did not happen after an investigation. Nevertheless, DDT believes the conspiracy theory and sent his agents to find “proof.” Under DDT’s orders, U.S. officials are exploring demands of financial compensation from China or considering not paying back debts to them. DDT also considers stripping China of “sovereign immunity” so that the U.S. government and virus victims can sue China, an action that might be illegal or require congressional approval. This threat came after DDT’s accusation that President Obama was responsible for “broken tests” for a virus that wasn’t discovered three years after DDT was elected.

DDT wants to go to Arizona this coming week. No doubt he’ll be back to rallying.

March 2, 2020

DDT: Week 162 – Courts Giveth, Taketh Away

Last week while Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) tried to dodge covid-19 problems and bring up the stock market by lying, lots of other things happened. Here’s a listing:

Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, 67, was been found guilty of two of five charges: criminal sexual act in the first degree (maximum 4 years) and rape in the third degree (maximum 25 years). His legal woes aren’t over: the LA County DA has charged Weinstein with four felony counts of sexual assault. Weinstein was the center of the #MeToo movement that erupted on October 15, 2017.

GOP-appointed judges on the Ninth Circuit Court permits DDT’s “gag rule” which bans federal funding from the low-income Title X program for clinics that inform patients of places where they can obtain abortions. The ruling overturns lower court injunctions in California, Oregon, and Washington. Plaintiffs argued that the rule violates “nondirective” pregnancy counseling and referrals for patients who request them, a 1996 congressional mandate.

Overturning a lower court, the 2nd Circuit Court ruled that DDT can withhold millions of dollars in law enforcement grants to force states to cooperate with U.S. immigration enforcement. The decision requires cities and states to give federal immigration authorities access to jails and advance notice before releasing undocumented immigrants before getting grant money. Federal appeals courts in Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco disagree and uphold lower-court injunctions.

In a blow against the U.S. Constitution, the District of Columbia Circuit Court panel overturned a lower court and ruled that former White House counsel Don McGahn can defy a congressional subpoena for his testimony. The Democrats can appeal the 2-1 ruling.

On the same day, the 9th Circuit Court reversed DDT’s “remain in Mexico” order, ruling that the administration must stop requiring Central American asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico pending US approval. Since DDT’s order, there have been more than 800 reports of kidnapping, rape and other violent crimes against migrants waiting in Mexico. Another 9th Circuit decision also blocked the program but suspended its decision until tonight so that the government could respond. Plaintiffs have until the end of tomorow.

A Portland (OR) jury accepted a climate necessity defense and refused to convict five Extinction Rebellion activists who blockaded a train track use to transport oil. Because one of the six jury members voted to convict, the criminal trespassing cased ended in a mistrial. Multnomah will need to decide whether to re-prosecute the case.

Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, is leading the purge at the White House with the aid of 29-year-old Johnny McEntee. Fired as DDT’s personal aide in 2018 for “serious financial crimes,” he now heads up DDT’s personnel office. Thomas’ group Groundswell sends requests to fire officials classified as “Never Trump” and “Deep State” and recommends the replacements of DDT loyalists, several hired by Fox to tout (aka lie) about DDT’s accomplishments. A top official for McEntee in the Presidential Personnel Office to help him vet employees is a college senior who was earlier HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s confidential assistant. The big purge comes in an administration with 82 percent more turnover in its first three years than any of the previous five presidents. Almost 40 percent of senior positions have two or more replacements.

DDT wants to purge Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. He tweeted that they “should recuse themselves on all Trump, or Trump related, matters!” Paul Waldman wrote:

“In other words: A Supreme Court justice who likes me, whom I appointed, who shares my agenda, who rules in my favor at every opportunity, or whose wife acts as an adviser to my White House? Those justices should absolutely be voting in cases involving me personally and my administration. But any hint of disagreement with me over anything means that a justice should be removed from considering any case in which I’m involved.”

DDT appointed Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) as the new Director of Intelligence to replace Richard Grenell. Ratcliffe was an earlier choice for the job but withdrew his name from appointment because even GOP senators were not pleased with the choice. Ratcliffe falsely took entire credit for a multistate, multiagency operation when he wrote on his website that he “arrested over 300 illegal aliens on a single day.” Prosecutors charged only 45 workers, and six of the cases were dismissed, two of them U.S. citizens. A.J. Irwin, a former immigration investigator involved in planning stages, called the operation “a costly failure, … a waste of money and hype.” In another website claim, Ratcliffe wrote he had tried suspects accused of funneling money to the Hamas terrorist group, but in reality, he investigated side issues related to an initial mistrial but did not prosecute the case. Ratcliffe also promoted a company accused of reprisal against a whistleblower and their cybersecurity efforts in shutting down a critical government cybersecurity office. The company was Ratcliffe’s third-largest campaign donor for his upcoming re-election. DDT tweeted that he “is an outstanding man of great talent.”

House Democrats are looking into why DDT told the VA to “corner the market on a new antidepressant from Johnson & Johnson and whether DDT’s shadow advisory group to VA from Mar-a-Lago have stakes in the company. In 2018, DDT gave the three men influence (aka control) over the VA despite their lack of relevant experience. The drug Spravato was developed as a treatment to stop veterans from committing suicide, but the FDA restricted the drug because of “the risk of serious adverse outcomes” and “the potential for abuse and misuse.” In one trial, six people taking the drug died, including three by suicide. There were no deaths among the patients taking a placebo. The Government Accountability Office is also investigating the Mar-a-Lago trio.

J. Wesley Boyd, a psychiatry professor specializing in bioethics at Harvard Medical School, cited the drug’s similarity to the anesthetic ketamine and said, “[Spravato] was derived from a very inexpensive drug with a minor chemical tweak and then marketed at an outrageously high price.” DDT was reported to say about Spravato:

“I had seen it somewhere, and I’ve read it, regularly, quite a bit about it. I said, ‘Order — corner the market on it and give it to anybody that has the problem.’”

Trump told a crowd at the Economic Club of New York that his daughter Ivanka has personally created 14 million new jobs. From the New York Magazine:

“The entire U.S. economy has created fewer than 6 million new jobs since Trump took office. So Trump is crediting his daughter with having personally created more than 200 percent of all new jobs in the United States. This is like supply-side economics but for authoritarian nepotism. Exactly how she did this remains a subject of some confusion. The mechanism involves the ‘Pledge to America’s Workers,’ in which the chief executives of various firms promise to create some arbitrary number of training and other opportunities … Some of the companies … admitted they had simply credited all real (or, in some cases, hypothetical) job openings to the Ivanka initiative.”

AG Bill Barr and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos attended the National Religious Broadcasters Convention and preached their ideology of making the U.S. into a theocracy. Barr’s speech, sponsored by Save the Persecuted Christians headed by far-right conspiracy theorist and Islamophobe Frank Gaffney Jr, railed against secularism. DeVos called for more government support for religious schools. DDT’s attorney Jay Sekulow, part of DDT’s defense team at the impeachment trial, had to cancel his appearance because of illness.

History may give Stephen Miller an idea to disenfranchise and deport more people. The 1907 Expatriation Act took citizenship from women who married noncitizens; they could become naturalized citizens if their husbands did. This law did not apply to men who married non-citizens. The Supreme Court upheld the law in Mackenzie v. Hare (1915) because women knew the consequence of their marriages. During World War I, U.S. women who married Germans and lost their citizenship were forced to register as enemy aliens. Women’s suffrage in 1920 led to the Cable Act in 1922 allowing women to keep their citizenship if married to men who could become citizens. Married women, however, had to petition the government to regain their citizenship and could be denied if husbands weren’t eligible for citizenship, for example all Asians. Females lost citizenship if married to a non-citizen and living away from the U.S. for two years. In 1931 women kept their citizenship even if they married an Asian although not all Asians gained naturalization rights until 1952. Finally, an act in 1940 provided that all women could regain their citizenship by taking an oath of allegiance, but only if they resided continuously in the U.S. since their marriage.  

November 11, 2019

DDT’s Record about Veterans Belies Speech about Them

In a normal world, the United States would be honoring the veterans on the day set aside to commemorate their service, and the commander-in-chief would join in the appreciation for their service. We no longer have a “normal world”: Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is sitting in the Oval Office.

DDT abused veterans even during his campaign. In January 2016, DDT boycotted a debate other GOP presidential candidates over a feud with Fox’s Megyn Kelly and held his own rally at the same time, ostensibly to raise money for veterans. According to DDT, it was wildly successful, and he claimed he got $6 million. He promised the money to 20 different groups, but a little less than half the money was donated to veterans’ charities, much of it directly from donors to the groups instead of funneled through DDT. The other $3 million apparently stayed with DDT. 

Almost four years later, a few days before Veterans Day, a judge in New York ordered DDT to pay $2 million for misuse of his “charitable” foundation after DDT admitted that his fundraiser for veterans was designed “to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign,” according to Judge Saliann Scarpulla. DDT, however, issued a statement that he was not sorry or wrong after tweeting in June 2018, “I won’t settle this case!” DDT also confessed that he used the charity’s donated money to settle $100,000 in legal claims over an 80-foot flagpole at Mar-a-Lago, $158,000 to resolve a lawsuit over a contest at his golf course, $5,000 for ads promoting his hotels, and more money buying sports memorabilia and his portrait for his personal use. Eight organizations receiving DDT’s fine and the disbanded charity’s funds include Citymeals on Wheels, the United Negro College Fund, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The veterans are still missing their $3 million.

Any other president of the United States would have been pilloried for this fraud, especially targeting veterans. For DDT and his supporters, it’s just another day.

DDT is also trying to undermine the Uniform Code of Military Justice that details non-judicial punishment, Article 15. After Navy Chief Edward Gallagher was charged on ten criminal counts with fellow Navy SEALS as witnesses, DDT took up his cause, claiming that he should be exonerated. In the end, one witness changed his story after not being charged for a crime, and Gallagher lost his trial on one minor charge. For that, he was reduced in grade to E-1. Chief of Naval Operations has now reduced his grade but not his pay grade by keeping him a petty officer first class. In other cases which also either convicted or charged soldiers for violating the military’s rules of engagement and war crimes, DDT plans to “take action” for two convicted war criminals. He has been asked to disapprove findings in one case and dismiss the charges in the other. Any action from DDT will undermine the chain of command and the military justice system. Law-abiding veterans will be insulted if DDT dismisses charges, restores rank, and pardons war criminals.

During his campaign, DDT continued to denigrate honored veterans. He slammed then Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), repeatedly saying, “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” Gold Star family Khizr and Ghazala Khan were frequent objects of DDT’s attacks after Khizr Khan spoke at the Democratic convention. Their son, U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, was killed in 2004 while he served in Iraq.

Two years ago, he called Myeshia, wife of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson with condolences after Johnson was killed in an ambush in Niger following his being missing for 48 hours. Myeshia said that DDT didn’t even know her husband’s name.

Last year on Veterans Day, DDT traveled to France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. He was a no-show at a key ceremony because he didn’t want to go in the rain. He has visited the troops overseas only once in almost three years, finding it not “overly necessary,” according to his statement. After Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified to the House about DDT’s July 25 phone call to the Ukrainian president, DDT tried to smear Vindman and called him a “Never Trumper.”  

DDT promised to improve the VA, but he made decisions that hurt the agency. One of them was his vaunted whistleblower protection office that deliberately put whistleblowers at risk. The agency’s inspector general reported that the office not only outed whistleblowers but also kept poorly performing senior officials and didn’t investigate issues in an accurate or unbiased manner. DDT’s political appointments have scorned career employees, according to the report, and acted in ways that demonstrated a lack of respect for people they considered “career” whistleblowers.

In 2017, DDT put three of his Mar-a-Lago buddies as shadow rulers for the VA who threatened health care of veterans: a Palm Beach doctor who provides “concierge” medical care for the wealthy, the chair of Marvel Entertainment, and a lawyer. None of the three has ever served in the U.S. military or the government, and they operated in private with no transparency, accountability, or oversight. Taxpayers provided for the cost of officials’ travel to visit with the triumvirate at Mar-a-Lago. One of the beliefs of the “Mar-a-Lago crowd” was privatization of health care, known to be dangerous for veterans’ wellbeing. They were responsible for the appointment of David Shulkin as VA director and then told him what to do.

Once Shulkin was fired in 2018, DDT wanted to appoint Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the military doctor who gave him the glowing report including the possibility that DDT could live to be 200 years old.  for another 200 years. Any appointment disappeared after allegations that Jackson provided an excessive amount of an opioid to a White House staff member, wrote himself prescriptions for the same medication, distributed the sleep aid Ambien to White House and media members on overseas trips followed by prescriptions for wakefulness, got drunk and “wrecked a government vehicle” after a Secret Service going away party, and demonstrated workplace misconduct. After investigations into his behavior, including an issue with VP Mike Pence’s wife, Karen, and her doctor, Jackson faded away. Now Jackson is back, thinking about a run for the U.S. House after DDT-supporter Texan Mac Thornberry declared it quits for the 2020 election.

Another DDT attack on veterans is to end the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program (FWVP) that helps reunited Filipino veterans and their families while they wait for federal decisions about their visas. These elderly veterans from World War II need support from family members. Over 250,000 Filipino soldiers enlisted in the U.S. army, but fewer were permitted to move to the U.S. and become citizens. Despite their service and sacrifice in World War II, they lack full benefits afforded to military veterans and their families in the states. Japan occupied Manila after they attacked the Philippines on December 7, 1941. The U.S. and Filipino resistance lasted for months, and the Bataan Death March of 60,000-100,000 U.S. and Filipino prisoners of war, leading to death of thousands, was decried as a war crime. During Japan’s occupation of Japan for the entire war, the Philippines suffered almost 60,000 casualties.

Thus far this year, the U.S. House passed 56 bills for veterans, 25 of them bipartisan, after 32 hearings. These include VA mental health funding and suicide prevention, inequitable taxes on military families, and “expanded benefits for Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange,” according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has not allowed any of these bills to move through the Senate.

Today, DDT went back to the state he rejected in favor of Florida and gave his first speech in New York City. He had wanted to be Grand Marshall for the Veterans Day parade there for almost 25 years, but that honor goes only to people who served in the military. This Veterans Day is the third one in which he did not follow the presidential tradition of going to Arlington Cemetery.

According to news reports, DDT put on his pretend-president hat and sounded presentable. He listed specific American military victories, recounted stories of individual veterans, and told Gold Star families that he will “stand by your side forever.” The event included a moment of silence and a wreath-laying ceremony honoring fallen soldiers.

DDT’s speech was not uneventful. Like sporting events that he attended, he was greeted with chants of “lock him up” and “impeach and remove.” Signs in the buildings surrounding him in Madison Square including “Convict” and “Impeach” in a Murdoch building. Several dozen people holding banners reading “Traitor, criminal, lock him up!”, “Sexist in chief” and “Impeach Trump” gathered close to Madison Square Park in downtown Manhattan ahead of his speech.

Now that DDT has had the attention he craves, he can continue to send soldiers into places around the world to protect other authoritarians and create more disabled veterans.

November 10, 2015

The Tragedy of Veterans Day

Tomorrow is Veterans’ Day, a designated time to honor U.S. veterans for their willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. For many years, being a vet meant moving toward the middle class, a benefit for struggling citizens. Yet today’s United States is a very sad place for many veterans.

One serious problem is health care for veterans who were sexually assaulted while in the military, ten times the rate for women as for men. Reporting these assaults while in the military is frequently ignored which impacts the lack of care later on, especially when military officials warn television stations to not air these stories.

Col. (Ret.) Kathy Platoni, a U.S. Army psychologist for more than three decades, cited problems such as hostile physicians and violations of HIPAA privacy regulations in the VA. Susan Avila Smith, advocate for raped and sexual abused women in the military, told about a woman placed on a VA co-ed psych ward who was forced to watch a New Year’s Day football game with a group of male patients. They cheered their team, and she screamed in fear, remembering her rape by a serviceman. She was strapped to a gurney, legs spread, and left alone in a quiet room instead of receiving appropriate care and support. Only 55 percent of the 150 major VA hospitals have women’s clinics.

Female service members account for about 15 percent of the armed forces, but 46 percent of military sexual assault victims. Of the victims who reported attacks, 62 percent said they received retaliation both professionally and socially because of their reports. According to an estimation, fewer than three out of every 100 sexual assaults in 2012 were prosecuted.

Among the homeless, veterans represent 8.6 percent, down from five years earlier because of efforts to end veterans’ homelessness. Overrepresented are black veterans who comprise 39 percent of the homeless veteran population but only 11 percent of the total veteran population. Feeding America reports that “20 percent of families served by its food banks and pantries include someone who has served in the U.S. military.”

At least ten percent of people on death row today—over 300 inmates—are military veterans although only seven percent of the population has ever served in the military. Many more veterans have been executed, according to a report from the Death Penalty Information Center. Researcher Richard C. Dieter reports that this disturbing statistic may be related to the serious traumas that veterans have suffered, receiving poor treatment or none at all. One-third of homicide victims killed by veterans back from Iraq and Afghanistan were family members or girlfriends. Another 25 percent were fellow service members.

Jeffrey Toobin points out the difference between recent and past veterans:

“Earlier generations of veterans came home from war to ticker-tape parades, a generous G.I. Bill, and a growing economy that offered them a chance at upward mobility. Younger veterans returned to P.T.S.D., a relatively stagnant economy, especially in rural and semi-rural areas, and an epidemic of drug abuse. And they came home to a society where widening income inequality suggested the futility of their engagement with the contemporary world.”

Veterans also have a suicide rate 50 percent higher than those who didn’t serve in the military. Because the suicide rate is higher among veterans who didn’t deploy to Afghanistan or Iraq, the causes of suicide for the veteran population may not be limited to the trauma of war. Suicide among women veterans is much higher than men, almost six times the rate of other women. Suicide for women veterans ages 18 to 29 is 12 times the rate of nonveterans, and every other age group of women veterans is between four and eight times higher. In the general population, women tend to attempt suicide more often than men but use pills or methods other than guns. Female veterans, however, are more likely to have guns; 40% of female veterans use guns to commit suicide.

Veterans, like the elderly, disabled, and others on Social Security, won’t receive a cost of living this coming year, for the third time since 1975. In introducing the Seniors and Emergency (SAVE) Benefits Act—a one-time increase of 3.9 percent or about $581—Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) selected that percentage because it’s equal to the average annual increase in CEO pay at the top 350 U.S. companies. Taxpayers subsidize CEO pay packages because they are considered a business expense. Closing that loophole would pay for this increase veterans and Social Security payments while still leaving funding for the Social Security Trust Fund.

Tonight the GOP presidential candidates met to debate issues. Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) supports privatizing the VA health care system, removing government-connecting negotiating power for prices. He also “advocated for leniency in the U.S. Department of Education’s investigation of Corinthian Colleges and its job placement claims” although Corinthian Colleges illegally used official military seals “in its advertising in an effort to recruit recently discharged service men and women” before abruptly shutting down “under the weight of regulatory and legal pressure.” The company was also accused of advertising programs that it didn’t offer and misrepresenting job placement rates to students and investors.

While governor of Florida, Jeb Bush tried to privatize health care for veterans, but the private company providing nursing and food services—a company that donated to Bush’s campaign—went into bankruptcy two years later. The facilities using the private companies provided substandard care and were ranked in the bottom 20 percent of facilities in the county. Records showed that nine out of ten patients did not receive proper care.

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson wants to do away with the VA and put their care into facilities for the general population. Although not all VA-enrolled veterans seek health care during a given year, the U.S. had 9,111,955 VA-enrolled Veterans in 2014, a number equivalent to the combined populations of Nebraska, West Virginia, Idaho, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and both Dakotas.

Back in 1998, Sen.Lindsey Graham (SC) lied about seeing action while in the military when he claimed to be “an Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm veteran although he never got closer to the war than McEntire Air National Guard Base near Columbia where he was a military lawyer.” Later he said that he “didn’t mean to mislead people.” His job while in South Carolina was to make wills for soldiers sent to the Gulf War.

Sens. Rand Paul (KY), Ted Cruz (TX), and Rubio voted against spousal benefits for legally married same-gender spouses of veterans. The amendment would “establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to ensuring all legally married same-sex spouses have equal access to the Social Security and veterans benefits they have earned and receive equal treatment under the law pursuant to the Constitution of the United States.” It passed without the votes from the GOP presidential candidates.

In opposing giving veterans access to affordable housing, Paul was also one of 11 senators who voted against considering a bill that would “provide $142 billion in fiscal 2012 for the Department of Veterans Affairs, military construction, military housing and related operations. The bill also includes $52.5 billion in advance fiscal 2013 appropriations for VA medical programs.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill to set aside 3 percent of all state contracts for veteran-owned businesses. President Obama signed the Veterans Entrepreneurship Act this past summer, but Christie refused to hire them for state projects. During the debate, Christie said, “Hillary Clinton doesn’t respect [veterans] service.

Candidates in the debate were eager to create more crisis situations in the Middle East which would force more death and disaster for military members, but they did not go beyond empty words in helping them. Last spring, 41 Senate Republicans voted against a measure that would have expanded education and health care, including 27 new medical facilities, for veterans. The bill proposed the guarantee of in-state tuition rates at all public universities for post-9/11 veterans. Conservatives are ready to cause wars but reluctant to care for the “collateral damage” of their decisions.

In a recent poll, two-thirds of the surveyed veterans opposed privatization of VA health care. In addition, 57 percent of them said that this issue would determine the presidential candidate that they choose. The GOP presidential candidates might want to take notice.

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily News

Transformational News; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

Rainbow round table news

Official News Outlet for the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

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